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In For A Penny: Eye for the District Court Guy


Straight Eye for the District Court Guy

By Simon Pound

First published on In for a penny.....

I said a while ago that I'd try to get round to posting about a brilliant morning spent at the District Court. It comes highly recommended by this attendee, combining as it does two of my favourite interests: absurdity and strife.

The visit was occasioned by some over-exuberance on the job from a doorman I used to work with. He excluded someone from the bar, was called a 'nigger faggot" and gave the smartmouth guy such a slap that the Police came back hours later to see that they hadn't left behind any fragments of his jaw.

Just another night in hospo.

Anyhow, in the presence of many witnesses something had to be done and unfortunately for the very good, but occasionally too handy for his own good, man in question, they arrested him. And so in a moral support capacity, although the morality of heading along to support that is questionable, I found myself for first time at the District Court.

It was absolute gold from the moment of arrival. Two very harried looking court officials were manning (personing?) a metal detector. Just like in airports or Dangerous liaisons or whatever that god awful film with Michele Phiffer in the badass school was called.

Anyhow, after losing my belt, contents of pockets, etc to clear the quite seriously taken security I found myself in a building that managed to personify (buildingingfy?), well epitomise maybe, 'drab'. Everything was shades of awful. Impersonal scale, escalators like bad shopping malls from the seventies, the soul and countenance of begrudgingly provided public goods, the kind of place where ugly and unwanted shades of brown go to die.

And it only got better. Accompanying my escalator ride were the battle cries of the soon to be sentenced but resoundingly, and kidding-themselvesly, indifferent. "Eh whatever, eh. Fuck da system, fuck da piggies, fuck da judge, can't do shit to me cause I'm keeping it real, I'm living the thug life"

Honestly. It was awesome, I haven't heard the like of it since Mt Roskill Grammar School and even then most of it was self-deprecating.

Not this guy. Talking to, I hope, himself, because otherwise it was me, and streaming soon to be absolutely disproved bravado. If it wasn't the exact opposite about to happen to him then what was he doing in court, looking for all his life like this was the most presentable he has been in years.

Which was the other fascinating thing about the place. Every single person there was doing themselves a real disservice by how they tidied themselves up for their big days. We are talking about a bunch of the roughest looking dudes trying to look Sunday best and ending up looking worse for it because it makes it all too apparent that if that is the best they can do then they really are bad-eggs indeed.

Now I'm not trying to do a queer eye for the off-the-straight-and-narrow-guy, (let us call it then a straight eye for th........) but these guys need help. I saw, as an example of what constituted as dressed up, a Maori man in his late fifties, obviously homeless, missing all his front teeth, wearing tight-as black jeans, a well worn out tee-shirt, boots older than me and a cap. This was all with that distressed look that may well be fashionable right now but generally not if you achieved it by sleeping rough. But that was not the worst of it. For a homeless person to turn up to court is fair enough. The man has enough problems without having to attain sartorial accomplishment while on the hunt for food, cardboard boxes and got-a-dollar-bros. That I grant him. Problem was he set off his look with a single nod to surroundings: an electric blue tie. The most incongruous eighties fluro tie I have ever seen. It made, I am sad to say, my day. I am a bad person who will in future try not to laugh at homeless people, even privately, unless they are at least as funny as this guy was.

But he wasn't the end of it. Every defendant there came off looking worse for the fact that they had tried and failed. It made all of them that little bit more intimidating too, like the nine-foot Tongan guy who was staring at me with a just-you-think-about-smiling-about-my-too- small-dress-shirt-tucked-in-to-my-too-big- dress-pants-that-are-still-two-feet-too- short-for-my-legs-so-you-can-see-my-whole- socks-rising-out-of-my-Burgundy-winklepickers- just-you-think-about-smiling-and-I'll-break- your-neck-look. Add to that the fact that he looked just like the guy who killed Murray Stretch and I didn't even think about smiling. Not even now, safe at home.

Cause some things aren't funny. Which is completely not what the kids there with their fuming parents were. They were hilarious. Angry, angry, angry mothers and 17 year old sons trying to explain that they thought they were allowed to paint on that fence and take the car-stereo -'the car was not even locked mum." Classic.

The worst presented, and ultimately scariest person in this whole scenario was this one guy wearing a polyester suit so shiny it was actually reflective. To top it off he was wearing big black and purple basketball shoes with big shock-absorber type things at the heel. He was running around madly, so we called him Speedy. At one stage he ran off without a tie and came out of the toilet with one on, inexpertly tied. Thing was that now his belt was undone and flapping everywhere, and as he circled the waiting room again I looked on in interest to see if any of his clients might point it out to him. That is right clients. This man, looking after no less than six of these poor souls, was a legal-aid lawyer, a very real Lionel Hutz type ambulance-chaser-looking lawyer. The very saddest thing of the day. Apparently no-one worth their salt looks after minor legal-aid cases because they earn a third of their normal wage.

My friend got his case put off for another day, and as we left I noticed that the metal detector that we had all filed through, that they had taken so seriously just an hour before, was gone. Vanished completely. A funny day, unless Speedy was defending you. I like my legal professionals to pay attention to detail, little things, like whether their pants are slowly coming-down, as his were, exposing more and more of his novelty xmas boxers.

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