Part 1 - Chapter 3 - Sing's Day in Court

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The lockup at the local police station wasn't as bad as I thought. You hear all kinds of stories about jail and prison, but as it turned out, I had my own cell and nobody bothered me. Seeing as how I was still a juvie, they probably kept me separated from the older thugs.

The next morning the cops hauled me into court. An arraignment they called it. They sat me down at a long table next to a fat, old guy in a suit who stared at me over the top rim of his glasses.

I asked, "Who are you?"

"I'm your attorney. Name's Mr. Dunwoody."

Glancing around, I saw Mama and Jacko enter the courtroom. They took a seat behind me. Mama smiled at me with her lips but not her eyes. I could tell from that look she was worried. Jacko looked scared. I wondered how Mama could afford to get an attorney for me. I learned later that she couldn't and Dunwoody was a court appointed lawyer.

"You gonna get me off, right?" I asked Dunwoody.

He shuffled some papers and studied them. "Says here you assaulted your classmate with a scalpel. Cut him."

"But Pockets is twice my size. He started it. I was afraid he'd kill me."

Dunwoody stopped reading what was on the papers and gave me another condescending look from over the rim of his glasses. "Did you do it? Did you cut him?"

"I was just defending myself-"

"Then we'll try pleading nolo contendere."

My knowledge of court proceedings was limited to what I saw on TV while watching Judge Judy. I never heard those words before.

"What's that mean?"

"It means no contest."

"What does that mean?"

"Look, kid, I know this judge. He's a busy man and appreciates expediency. If we don't make waves and throw your case onto the mercy of the court, he's likely to go easy on you."

Expediency? That was an important sounding word. Anyway, I had no choice but to trust that Dunwoody knew what he was doing. I hoped to walk out of there a free man.

An old lady who reminded me of Betty White pounded a stick against the floor and told us to, "all rise for the honorable judge so-and-so."

I forget his name but remember what he looked like. The judge entered the room, a big guy wearing a long, black choir robe with a sourpuss expression. The judge motioned for us to sit. I have to admit the ceremony of it all kind of impressed me. Made me feel like I was starring in a movie.

My case came up first. The judge sat on his tall chair all stooped over, his forearms resting on the big desk in front of him. He peered down at me. "Son, you're charged with aggravated assault. Do you understand the charges?"

I didn't, but remembered what Dunwoody said about expediency. "Yes, sir."

"Have you been informed of your rights and do you understand them?"

"I believe so, sir."

He asked me a bunch of other questions that just sounded like blah-blah to me. I told him what I thought he wanted to hear so I could get it over with and get out of there.

Finally, he asked, "How do you plead?"

About time we got down to it. Just like on Judge Judy, I expected to give a detailed explanation of how Pockets harassed me and ruined my bio experiment. I'd finally be able to tell how he came at me with that scalpel and I had knocked it out of his hand and got to it first, was only just defending myself, and the cut on his chin was just an accident.

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