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.
For several years, there were numerous satellite courtrooms in downtown L.A. Most were in Chinatown on obscure side streets with no parking and most in double-wide trailers. I got stuck in one for several days one summer. The air conditioner was working overtime and not doing well. It was h o t !!
The bailiff told me that the judge was able to manage so well due to the fact he wore only underwear under his robe and had a fan under his bench blowing up his robe. I verified that when I saw his bare legs as he left the bench.
While working as a robbery detective, I once had an elderly female victim who was terrified of the thought of going to court.
We got there early and I showed her how the system worked. I tried to bolster her courage and reassured her that the District Attorney would ask her some easy questions and to just tell the truth and not to volunteer any information.
We were in the courtroom early and our defendant was seated in the unused jury box along with several other prisoners. I asked my victim if she could find him in the courtroom. After some hints, she looked to the jury box and saw him. So far so good.
Later, on the stand, she was asked if she saw the man in the courtroom who robbed her. She naturally looked to the last place she saw him, the jury box.
Even though he was seated at the counsel table in front of her, she leaned over in her chair and even half stood when the defendant (God bless him) waved at her as though to say, I’m over here.
Don’t you just love it??