You have the right to SHUT UP!

Had a gentleman picked up last night for Fail To Appear on a traffic infraction issued by a DPS trooper for 112 in a 65 last January.

I go and fetch the gentleman from the jail and stand him in front of the bench, the judge tells him that this a formal hearing, he has the right to have an attorney to aid him in his defense, so on and so forth.

Then the judge produces the warrant with the citation stapled to it, hands it to me, I give it to the gentleman and the judge tells him that he can enter a plea of “Guilty”, “Nolo Contendre”, or “Not Guilty”. He goes on to say that if the gentleman pleads “Guilty” or “Nolo Contendre” the judge will hit him with a fine that he can either sit-out in jail, pay or make other arrangements to deal with, and if he pleads “Not Guilty”, the judge will set him a bond and a court date.

The gentleman contemplates for a bit, then nods in agreement.

The judge asks him which plea he would like to enter with the court.

The gentleman ponders.

The judge waits, then gently prompts him, “Sir, what plea do you wish to enter?”

The gentleman looks up with his brow all scrunched up, “I’m … not sure.”

The judge blinks at him, sighs, and says, “Sir, there is a copy of the citation in front of you. Do you own the car listed on the citation?”

“Yes,” sayeth the defendant.

“Okay,” responds the judge, “There is a signature on the citation. Does it resemble your signature?”

“Pretty much,” is the response.

“Okay,” continues the judge, “If there is a doubt that you received that citation, you should plea ‘Not Guilty’ and request a trial.”

“It’s not that, Your Honour, it’s just that I was doing so much dope that month that everything after Christmas is pretty hazy.”

“Okay, court will set a bond in the amount …what?

I feel my eyebrow slide up.

“I was smoking so much hash, that I honestly can’t remember anything that happened that week.”

“Sir, I can not advise you, but you should ruminate on the fact that it is never a bad idea to exercise your right to remain silent. That’s a hint, by the way.”

“Wait … had I met Two-Step then? It might have been ecstacy.”

“Sir, it is in your …”

“No. No, I remember, now. I started doing the ecstacy in February, so it was hash. I think. Unless …”


“Your Honour,” I said, “A moment?”

Not waiting for a reply, I stepped in front of the defendant, smiled real big and said, “You need to think about shutting up.”

The defendant gave me a puzzled look, “You want me to lie to the judge? I thought that was an offense?”

“I want you to shut up.”

“But …”



“Shush. Your honour, I believe that the defendant is ready to enter a plea. ‘Guilty’. ‘Not Guilty’. Or ‘No Contest’. In the traffic case.

“All right. How do you plea? To the traffic case.

“Well, I guess … he can’t tell me to shush! I have rights!”

“Yes,” said the judge, firmly,”And one of those rights is the right not to incriminate yourself.”

The defendant nodded. The judge waited a bit.

“Now, to the reason why were are all gathered here: how do you plea to the speeding ticket?”

The defendant took a deep breath. The judge nodded encouragingly. I sighed in relief.

“I can waive any goddamned right I want to.”

The judge gently, and with the greatest of precision and care, laid his gavel on the bench, placed his elbow on the bench and performed a classic Migraine Salute. I considered the tactical application of police brutality.

“Sir,” grated the judge, firmly kneading the bridge of his nose, “The next words out of your mouth better either be: ‘Guilty’; ‘Not Guilty’; or ‘No Contest’.”

“I have my rights …”

“You have the right to SHUT UP! No, you cannot waive any rights! I will not allow you to waive any rights! I require you to assert your rights! I order you to flaunt your rights with your head held high! Now plead and get out of my courtroom!”


“Any word coming out of your mouth that isn’t ‘Guilty’ or ‘No Contest’ will be considered a plea of ‘Not Guilty’.”

“No contest?”

“The court accepts your plea. Five days. Goodbye. Good luck. Don’t ever darken my doorway again.”

“Wait, can you actually …”

“Deputy. Clear the court. Good day, sir.”


I love Traffic Day at JP court.


Meditations on emergency training

16 thoughts on “You have the right to SHUT UP!”

  1. Are you sure that guy wasn’t smoking hash in the courtroom?

    He probably had a whole pharmacy on him.

    That was pretty damn funny story.

  2. That’s just… *shaking my head*

    I have spent the last seven years of my life editing just about everything my husband says. The man simply doesn’t know what to leave out. But I’d like to think even he, if he were a criminal of some sort, would know to keep his mouth shut in front of the judge. I’ve always assumed that’s part of why he’s a law-abiding citizen… he knows his mouth would get him in too much trouble. After reading this, I think my husband may just have good moral fiber.

  3. I can hear it now….

    “I sentence you to a vasectomy and time served. Bailiff, deliver the prisoner to the county hospital for the operation, then turn him loose.”

  4. I hate these types. These are the guys that get guys like me subpeonaed in trials I had nothing to do with.

    This is par with the “Do you think the judge will give me a P.R. bond because…..” crowd. Most memorable of those was the guy, sitting in front of a running DVD recorder mind you, that looks at me and follows the preceding statement with “I didn’t mean to kill the guy. I was just shooting at him to scare him.”

    [shakes head]…Anthing else you’d like to admit to while were here?

  5. Wow. You just know that upon release, he will post on an internet forum somewhere about how he was railroaded, and meant to plead not guilty but the judge wouldn’t listen. Not to mention that the conviction shouldn’t stand because of fringe on the flag, and the sun was in his eyes, and the dog ate his homework …

  6. Unbelievable!!! I’m surprised the guy didn’t tell the officer issuing the ticket how high he was. I can see it now: “uh, ocifer, I honestly didn’t know how fast I was going, ’cause I am, you know, really f*cked up!” Like Ron White said “I had the RIGHT to remain silent, but not the ABILITY”!!!!!

  7. Some time back I got a parking ticket. I checked the local regs and felt that it was a bad ticket since only a foot or two of my vehicle protruded into the ‘No Parking’ zone (I’d left room for the person in front of me to exit).

    Went to court, had to wait until the final person in my bit. The ticketing officer had walked out with the previous defendant to discuss places she might be able to legally park near her work (since the judge had nicely said he’d forgive this ticket since she’d been parking there for years). My name was too long for the docket to print properly so we had a brief discussion of that. He read the charge, I plead ‘Not Guilty’ so I could explain my ‘protruding isn’t covered’ theory. Prosecuter looks at the door where the ticketing officer has yet to return. Looks at judge. We all look at door. No sign of officer. Judges rules ‘Case dismissed!’. I wisely stayed silent and so never did get to find out if my theory is correct or not. Unlike some folks I’ve learned that if I win I should immediately quit arguing (rare occurrance though that is)

    As a bonus, I found $10 blowing along the street so I actually made money on the day.

  8. Reality is for the people who can’t handle the drugs – apparently Mr. Brainiac hasn’t figured that out yet.

    Great post, Lawdog. I LMAO!

  9. Lawdog;
    Sir, you live in a most civilized part of the world. My compliments to you and the JP.

  10. LD, why didn’t you and the judge just let the guy shovel away digging a deeper hole? I mean instead of giving us law abiding people a break for only 5 days, I’m sure you could have stretched it out to a couple months at least at the rate he was going….

    Hey, it is a matter of public safety after all, that idiot might just kill somebody doing stupid shit like that. The fewer chances he has to do it, the better in my book.

  11. During my stint as an unsworn security officer for University of California Police, baby-sitting dormlings, one of my more enjoyable sergeants favored the term “JERKUS ERECTUS”: an idiot standing tall. The phrase “I know my rights!” is one of the most reliable cues to recognition.

  12. ROTFLMAO!! It’s been a few days since I’ve had a good laugh. Thank you. And the reason it’s SO DANG FUNNY is that IT HAPPENS all the TIME. It’s just amazing the intelligence of the criminal mind (read SARCASM here, please!)
    I’m glad I’ve found your page…very entertaining reading.

  13. I love this:
    “I considered the tactical application of police brutality…” excellent stuff, Sir. Stay safe and check six.

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