‘You can forget your wife’s birthday but you won’t go to jail for it’

Defendants having trouble making it to their court dates

By the Evening Times News Staff news@theeveningtimes.com

“I hope that all you people who came in late and missed my speech know how to plead,” said Judge Fred Thorne. Because the jail television feed wasn’t working, names of people in the courtroom were called first. A man in court was charged with driving on suspended and no insurance and pled guilty to both charges. “I got insurance but no driver’s license.” “Your policy shows a one-year policy. Bailiff go call the insurance. Is your insurance good?” “It is good but I missed one payment.” “$275 plus court costs on the driving on suspended and $275 plus court costs on the insurance.” The next man was also charged with no proof of insurance. He pled guilty. “Did you have insurance then?” “No.” “Do you have insurance now?” “Yes.” “$225 plus court costs.” A young man who was back with his parent was asked, “How old are you?” “18.” His mother was with him and was asked by Judge Thorne, “Did you know he had a ticket?” “He just told me this morning.” “That is why I wanted him to bring his parent. Do you work?” He asked the young man. “I work at Big Star.” “Full time?” “Around 30 hours a week.” “Do you go to school?” “Yes. West Memphis High School.” “What kind of grades, mom?” “B’s and C’s.” “These days you get a C for just putting your name on the paper. Go to driver’s school and I’ll dismiss it this time. Next time, if you don’t bring your parent you will go to jail.” Another young man was also asked his age. “18.” “How do you plead to driving on suspended?” “No contest.” “This was because of a DWI? You are only 18 and already have a DWI and a driving on suspended.” “Yes.” “Can’t you see that you are going the wrong direction?” “No, sir.” “Mom, don’t you see that he is going the wrong direction.” “He is getting it together.” “Are you going to school?” “Yes. Mid-South.” “Do you work?” “Yes. At Walmart.” “Did you know this offense carries a 10-day house arrest or 10 days jail time?” “No.” “If you want me to change your plea to ‘not guilty,’ we can have a trial and then see if you get 10 days jail or 10 days house arrest. Which do you want me to do?” “10 days house arrest.” A man charged with suspended driver’s license pled no contest. “You didn’t pay your fine and we suspended your license. $195 plus court costs. Go pay. Did you pay your other fine?” “Yes.” A woman was charged with failure to yield. She pled no contest. “I hit the side of the car and my insurance will pay for it.” “Is your husband here?” “No he is in rehab.” “Let’s explain that. Your husband is not in drug rehab.” “Go easy on me judge.” “Your husband has plenty of money. Okay, listen to me. Go to your eye doctor and get a letter from him saying whether you are able to see to drive.” “I just had my eyes tested.” “Be back here on March 11th with a letter saying you can see well enough to drive.” A woman involved in an accident was charged with failure to yield. She pled no contest. “The light was green and the other car hit me.” “So you are really saying you are not guilty? Let’s change your plea to ‘not guilty.’ Come back for trial and we will hear what the people involved have to say.” A man whose name was called was asked by Judge Thorne, “Did you bring your insurance this time?” “It is in the car.” “Go get it! Does that make sense? You were told to come back and bring your insurance.” A woman started to get up and go with him. “Sit down. That way he should come back in. I’m holding you hostage.” A woman charged with no headlight, no insurance and failure to come to court pled guilty. “You have a problem. You had a ticket and didn’t show up for court and then you got another ticket.” “I thought both tickets were for March 18.” “The first ticket was in November and you were to appear on December 14th. The next ticket says for you to appear on it on March 18. We will just handle both of them today. $275 plus court costs times two for the insurance. $105 plus court costs on the failure to appear. I’ll dismiss the headlight.” A man charged with no seatbelt, driving on suspended, failure to appear and speeding pled guilty to all charges. “I was moving and I called and got a new court date.” “And you missed that date.” “I forgot.” “You can forget your wife’s birthday but you won’t go to jail for it. Here you will go to jail. $275 plus court costs on the driving on suspended. $45 plus court costs on the speeding. $105 plus court costs on the failure to appear. I’ll dismiss the seatbelt.” “Can I get a pass to drive?” “No. Pay all your fines and reinstatement fees. I guess this is excuse day.” A man charged with no driver’s license pled guilty. “We will keep your money on the bond and you can go.” The man hesitated. “Do you want me to give your money back and give you 10 days jail?” “No.” A woman charged with interfering with an emergency carrier pled no contest. “Why did you call the police and tell them you got shot?” “I don’t remember calling the police.” “You called them and said you had been shot and they sent an ambulance.” “I had been drinking all day.” “How many police showed up at your house?” “I don’t know.” “$250 plus court costs. One year suspended to six months probation.” A man had his felony charge changed to a misdeameanor. “How do you plead to criminal trespass?” “No contest.” “Did somebody beat the hell out of you?” “I believe I fell down.” “How much had you had to drink?” “About four glasses of Vodka.” “Do you work?” “Yes. I am an electrician.” “He was walking home,” said his attorney. “He also has a public intoxication charge.” “$250 plus court costs on the public intoxication. $250 plus costs on the criminal trespass. What are you going to do about your drinking problem?” “We are working on that,” said the attorney.

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