By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
The 1958 TV season gave us a show wherein the narrator intoned, “There are seven million stories in the naked city. This is one.”
I am willing to bet out there in “Copland,” there are at least that many stories just concerning the courts: quirky judges, inept attorneys, naïve victims, witless witnesses and dumb defendants.
I am going to share some of mine with you.
When I worked vice as a young officer I spent a lot of time in court—two, three, sometimes four times a week. Most of our “morals” cases were heard by Judge Ida Mae Adams. A sweet, tough, no-nonsense widow, she was tall and slender. She wore a pigtails wig, usually askew. She opened every court session with a prayer and woe unto those who did not show proper reverence. She would clasp her hands in prayer put her head down and pray aloud. She would also sneak a peek over the top of her specs. All us vice guys—usually eight or ten of us—all sat together front row right. Believe me, we “prayed up a storm.” She loved us.
This one day she must have seen something she didn’t like. All the guilty pleas were taken first (probably 95 % of the cases). Then she heard short quick trials— “he said, she said,” sort of thing. The “non-believer or non-prayer” defendant decided to test his luck. Five minutes later, he was found guilty. The judge asked his wife’s name and phone number then had the bailiff call her. The bailiff then handed the phone to the judge who told the wife that her husband had just been found guilty in her court of “resorting for the purpose of sexual intercourse with a prostitute.” She then told the wife, “He will be home in three days.”
Isn’t that double jeopardy?
Come back next Wednesday, March 1 for more Copland stories!