Saturday, September 01, 2007

Good News/Bad News

By Keith Fisher

Do you remember the old cliché of the mechanic who assessed the damage on your car and said, "I’ve got some good news and some bad news . . ."

I went to court the other day. Before you start worrying about me, I was there to give moral support to my friend who was being charged.

The bad news is he didn’t show up, the judge issued a bench warrant and set bail. The good news is I stayed for awhile and watched the human drama unfold for longer than I had intended to be there.

I work nights and the session was cutting into my valuable sleep time, but I watched as ordinary people dealt with some of the more difficult circumstances in their lives.

I found myself wishing I’d brought a notebook because the stories unfolding before my eyes were rich with conflict and reality more than I could ever dream up. The characters standing before me were as diverse as they were complicated.

I stayed until I absolutely had to leave or suffer from sleep deprivation, but I’ve got material for many stories to come. I have ideas for plots that I may never be able to write.

I also gained insight into how court is conducted these days. I sat in on court sessions before, but things have changed. For one thing, they show a DVD before they begin. It tells the accused about their rights and explains the procedure. Another is the addition in the state of Utah of an interpreter.

I watched a police officer and the bailiff stand up and approach the clerk in an effort (I assume) to protect the court from the more volatile of the accused. Others may have missed the drama in that moment, but I wrote whole stories about it in my head.

The point, if you missed it, is take notice of simple moments. Glean something from every event. Get out and experience life. It will help in your writing.

4 comments:

Tristi Pinkston said...

That sounds fascinating. I've never been inside a courtroom -- sounds like I may have to give it a try sometime. As an observer.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I might have to give it a try sometime. It would be interesting to attend court here in Canada and then attend court in Utah the next time I am down. The differences would be interesting.

Keith Fisher said...

Thanks for the comments. Yes the differences might be interesting. I think I'm going to tour the County Jail next.

Darvell Hunt said...

I once served as a jury foreman for a cocaine possession case in Utah County. It was an interesting experience. When the judge asked if we had reached a unanimous verdict, what could I say but what I’ve heard on so many television shows and in movies: “Yes, you’re honor, we have.” It was so surreal. Very educational, though.