Bitten, Part 3

The DA’s office requested my presence when the owner of the dog that bit me appeared in court.  Stepping into General Sessions Court is akin to entering another universe. I arrived early to find a mass of cops and people in suits standing at the front of the courtroom.  They all seemed to be trying to talk to the seated suits—the District Attorney and her assistants, I assume.  Most of the younger suits were sharply dressed men and women.  Some of the older guys, though, looked like they were wearing suit jackets twenty years out of style and made to fit someone a hundred pounds lighter. Apparently not all law practices are lucrative.

I sat behind the railing with the defendants, witnesses, and victims.  A lot were like folks in my neighborhood such as the dog’s owner, Kathryn, who sat beside me. Some seemed nervous, some looked lackadaisical, and others were downright scary looking.

We stood when the judge entered and then the clerk ran through the docket, naming defendants and stating their charges.  I heard lots of probation violations, driving without a license, shoplifting, DUI, drug possession, theft, and, of course, my case:  “dog bite.”

Several attorneys said their clients’ cases were up for discussion with the DA, while others said their clients were in “lock up.” The case related to me was up for discussion and I was very glad Kathryn, the dog owner, was not in lock up.

A woman from the DA’s office ushered the victims and witnesses to the lobby, and then called me to a private room to get details about my case.  She gave me brochures about victim rights, looked at my medical receipts, and made notes about the attack.

I’d had enough of dealing with the attack and its aftermath.  The pain, the weeks with limited mobility, the doctor visits, the court appearance, and the time stolen from things I would have preferred doing, had worn me out. On top of that, I hurt for Kathryn, who lost her dog and was reeling with guilt about my injury.  At the same time I was relieved that there were no longer worries about children in the neighborhood being attacked.  It was a very mixed bag of feelings.

“The dog’s owner is facing jail time or probation,” the DA’s representative finally said.  “What would you like to see happen to her?”

That startled me.  I had not expected to be asked for input, nor had I expected such severe consequences.

“I don’t want either of those!” I said. “Things like this happen in a neighborhood.  I didn’t call the police to get Kathryn punished.  I only wanted the dog controlled before it hurt someone else.”

The victim advocate left to talk with the DA after suggesting I go get some coffee; she would text me when needed.

Miss out on the drama?  No way.  I simply sat outside the courtroom to watch the show.

One woman was wearing a black dress made of thin lace with an unnecessarily large amount of cleavage bursting from her chest. It looked like she was wearing a bustier in addition to her five-inch stilettos.  I didn’t hear what her charges were.  Driving without a license?

Another woman obviously had on a pushup bra under her shirt.  Or maybe she was wearing a bustier, as well.  Problem was, it pushed her up so high, she looked abnormal, like someone had hung a shelf on her chest, almost level with her shoulders.  Her charges?  Criminal impersonation?

And then there was the heavy girl wearing skin-tight white knit shorts over an obvious thong.  Nothing was left to the imagination since the shorts were almost transparent.  Tax evasion?

A few middle-aged people were dressed in their Sunday best, while a frail old man in worn khakis was wearing a very full fanny pack (I wondered what he had stashed in there).  There were clean jeans and dirty jeans.  Dress shirts and muscle shirts.  I saw dreadlocks, purple hair, and baldheads, all races, all ages, all manner of tattoos and piercings, and what appeared to be a wide variety of income levels.

People were constantly in and out of the courtroom. They stepped out with their attorneys when they needed to confer.  One lady was being grilled by her public defender about the dates she had, or had not, appeared before her probation officer.  The lady’s husband, sitting right beside me, listened to their exchange and as soon as the attorney returned to the courtroom, he angrily spewed to his wife, “That bitch don’t give a shit ‘bout cha!”

Which was my observation, as well.  There are good attorneys and bad attorneys.  I suspect you get what you can afford.

After a couple hours, the victim advocate called me again to the private room.  She advised that they had agreed to shelve Kathryn’s charges for six months–if she had no further violations and made full financial restitution to me during that time, the criminal charges would be dropped.

Sounded fair to me.

Thankfully the case was resolved without Kathryn being thrown in jail, but, in spite of being relieved that I was nearing the end of my dog bite drama, I wasn’t quite ready to leave.  No telling what excitement might emanate from General Sessions Court.

Hmm…. maybe I should hang there every day.  It would provide great fodder for stories.

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