Thursday, February 15, 2007

Back, maybe

I was debating whether or not to post here ever again. I am still in law school and still have one year left, after I finish this semester. So I should still have at least 18 months of interesting stuff to tell (at least in theory). The problem was, would I tell it? It has been almost two months since my last post. I do not know where to go with that, it is just fact. No genuine issue there. I could easily just forget about this blog and all the irrelevant things I have had to say to the people that never read this thing. So the question is, have I lost my desire to write? The answer is a resounding no. Shit, I have spent the last two months writing (and editing and revising and researching and editing and writing and checking my galleys and reading and then reading some more and then doing more research and then writing some more and then editing a little bit followed by editing some more, though it really was not much editing; my wirting is perfect as is).

But it is not just my public that has been neglected. I looked through my cell phone. My last out-call before today was to the Chinese place for food delivery on Jan. 25. Before that (minus some calls to my parents about some legal troubles (fyi my troubles), stay tuned) was a call to accept a job offer on Dec. 29. That is pretty pathetic even for me. But on the plus side, I did write a kick ass comment for law review. So I got that going for me.

So why did I start writing again? (bear in mind, this is one entry and further entries are not guaranteed). I don’t know. Call it a compulsion. Call it nothing better to do now. Call it now that I am done with my comment, I have no idea what to do with myself and I need a reason to get out of bed because going to class just ain’t cutting it anymore (though I am fond of cutting class, though they do not really call it that anymore).

I do have some trepidations though. I do not want to shut down for a few months again. It seems that ever since my third semester started, I stopped writing. There was a post here, and another one over there, but never as regularly as when I first started. So just know, I am not guaranteeing any number of posts a week, but hopefully, it will be regularly.

So, enough with the boring disclaimer, let us get to what you all came for. Stories about me being a retard. So without further ado:

You may recall my last post. I think it said something about how it was the last day of finals and debauchery would soon ensue. I have said some prophetic things in my day, but that probably takes the cake. I wrote that post just before I went out for the night (I had internet in my house then, stolen or borrowed, whatever, I had it).

So I went to this party. I am not the most social person, but when I have had a few I can interact with most people, so long as I do not have to talk to them for too long and I can take a break every now and then. So the party was going along swimmingly, there was a keg, which is nice, and then suddenly, a bunch of cop cars show up outside. There was 8 if there was a dozen (hmm, bad cliché, there was maybe five or six cop cars). They just sat there, and we continued to have a good time. And of course, good times mean loud times. Add 20 minutes and several more beers equals louder times.

From what I can gather, cops do not like noise, even though they have those sirens on their cars. Apparently, the cops stormed the porch, and people stampeded inside, leaving a few unfortunate souls outside to deal with them. I was inside at the time, and quite inebriated. I got the gist of what was going on when the host said, “Shut up and get inside everyone, the cops are here. Be Quiet!” I asked the esteemed drunken host what the hell was going on, and I can only assume that he gave me an unsatisfactory answer.

Had I received a satisfactory answer, I surely would not have done what I did next.

Pissed off that some ornery cops would ruin the good time of a bunch of law students who had just suffered through two weeks of hell (first semester of second year still means something, I suppose), I decided to figure out what the hell was going on. I first tried the front door, but it was locked from the inside, and when I unlocked it, a cop on the porch told me to go back inside. This, of course, infuriated me. Why did it infuriate me? Probably for the same reason that I felt the need to defend my fellow students who were being subjected to the tyranny of the city police. I was drunk. There is no rational reason. In retrospect, I should have stayed inside, after all, the meek will inherit the Earth. Right? No, even now I would do the same thing that I was about to do. Was it a bad idea? Sure it was. I do not deny that. Were those folks on the porch capable of standing up for themselves? Probably, but even Mike Tyson had people in his corner when he boxed in the Olympics. Can you turn a blind eye to injustice? Most of the people at that party did, but I did not (or they were not so fucked up that they did not see an injustice or conversely, they were so fucked up they did not see an injustice).

So, because I am so damn altruistic (this is not the word I want to use, I need a word that says I believe that there is good in everyone (even Darth Vader, but I do not think believing in the force helps with the vocab situation going on here), help please), I figured that once I got on the porch and explained everything to the cops, they would see that they were being unreasonable and leave us the hell alone. But the front door was blocked, so I needed an alternate route. Thankfully, I had spent much of the party wandering around the house getting to know the lay of the land (people do not bother you much when you are walking around during a party if you look like you know where you are going). From my wanderings, I knew that I could exit out the back door, head around the house, and climb up onto the porch. So I did, and with a full cup of beer. Here is what happened (as best I can recall):

ME: What is going on here?
Cop#1: We have it taken care of.
ME: No, I want to know what is going on out here.
Cop#1: Just go back inside, this does not concern you.
ME: No, look, I am just curious what is going on out here, I want to figure this out. Ok, Ok, I know, wait, let me just do this.

[I pour my beer out over the porch railing into the shrubs]

ME: Ok, can we have a dialogue here now?
Cop#1: Go. Back. Inside.

[I see a cop in an intense conversation with a law student on the porch. The student looks upset]

ME: Are you charging anyone with anything here?
Cop#2: [gives me a look of contempt] Yes, public intoxication.
ME: What?
Cop#2: Public Intox.
ME: Are you kidding me?
Cop#2: What?

[I give Cop#2 a mixed look of pity and contempt for not understanding the law]

ME: Public Intox? They are on a porch.
Cop#2: Yeah . . .
ME: This is private property.
Cop#2: See that house over there [points across the street]. They can see you. That
makes it public.
ME: Are you serious? [I have lost all composure] We are on a porch. So wait, you are telling me, that if the people across the street . . . [I point to a window bordering the porch] If the shades were up on this window, and the people across the street could see me . . .
Cop#2: [Icy cold stare]
ME: inside the house and I was drunk, that would be a public intox? That does not make sense. There are . . .

[Cop#2 springs into action. He takes two steps, spins me around, and puts my hands behind my back. Smooth to, he must have practiced. He pushes (not really pushes, I do not know how to describe it because he is leading me, but he is behind me, guides maybe?) me down the stairs. My mind starts racing, more so than before. “He has not read me my Miranda Rights, so he cannot be arresting, but he is surely restricting my free movement. Actually, he does not need to read me my rights, because if he is right and I can be publicly intoxicated on a porch, then he has all the evidence he needs, except for a breathalyzer to prove I am in fact drunk, though I know I am.”

He pushes me off the stairs and towards the direction of a cop car. He leans me against the trunk, and frisks me. “Is this a Terry stop? No it is not, he has probable cause to frisk me, so I cannot argue that in court,” I think to myself. He takes my phone and my wallet, and opens the back door of the cop car and asks me to get in. I do. “Ahhh, you cold hard plastic seats, it has been six years since I felt your cold emotionless essence on my ass. By the way, you seats are very uncomfortable,” I say to the seats after Cop#2 closes the door.

So there I am, in the back of a cop car, again. My mind starts racing through what I learned from Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. Unfortunately, none of the cases focused on Public Intox on a porch. I think to what is “public.” Curtilage comes to mind, but I think that cops can search it if they have probable cause. Nothing like a crisis to fuck up the head. Hell, I got my second worst grade in Crim. Pro. and now here I am. Fuck Karma. Two deep breaths, I am not going anywhere for a while, make the most of it. I take out my pack of cigarettes and rip off the top. I pull out my pen, the cop did not take that, and start making notes on the cigarette box top. “Porch, Public? Look Into. Intox? No proof. Breathalyzer—not yet. Porch, not public area. § 1983, unlawful detainment. Lost Liberty. No Movement. Stuck in Cop Car for ___ min. Sue the Fuckers.”

After I finished my notes, roughly ten minutes or so after I was denied my freedom, I spied another officer walking by the car. I started to knock on the window.]

ME: [knock, knock, knock]
Cop#3: [opens the door] Do NOT pound on the window.
ME: But I was just . . .

[Cop#3 slams door shut]

ME: wondering if I was under arrest. Asshole. I will have your badge. You cannot hear me, but you know you are fucking up as we speak. You cannot arrest me for this shit. I did nothing wrong. A porch is not a public place fucker. Your actions have just confirmed that I am under arrest. You know what that means right asshole? Section 1983. My rights have been violated and they will be vindicated by a court allowing me taking your badge and shove it up your ass. You think you know what you are dealing with? Fucker you don’t have a clue. This will be the end of you. [Yes, I am a little drunk.

Now, I am stewing on the hard plastic seats. It does not seem so romantic anymore. I start investigating the cop car. There is a shotgun in the front seat, but alas, the plastic guard is closed, besides it would be a bad idea to take the gun. A very bad idea. Like you will end up dead bad idea. I check out his computer. Seriously, I have been here 20 minutes and the fucker has no screen saver? Even flying toasters would bring a smile to my face right now. I check back seat, nothing here but a receipt. That is not exciting, but makes me wonder who else has been in this back seat. Was an alleged murderer here before me? Would that receipt prove that he did not do it? I fucking hope not, because it is lost now.

Cop#2 enters the car. I try to look contrite. I am failing.]

Cop#2: I am writing you a ticket for public intoxication.
ME: Yes Sir. [“Now is not the time.”]
Cop#2: [writing, writing, writing] So what did you learn from this?
ME: [That cops are dicks. That cops do not know the law. That I will be a millionaire once I sue this fucking city] Ummmm . . .
Cop#2: Don’t butt in when the cops are dealing with a situation.
ME: Yes Sir.
Cop#2: Here you go, any questions?
ME: Is your badge number on that?
Cop#2: Yes it is. [overtly smug]
ME: Ok, great.

[Cop#2 lets me out of the car. I head back inside the house where the party was held, and find it mostly deserted. Apparently, a lot went down when I was locked up in the cop car. Not really though, most people just left. If only I was that smart.]


So, that is pretty much the end of the interesting part of the story. The rest of it confirms my retardedness.

So you are probably wondering what happened? Did I fight the law and win? Did I file my § 1983 action and receive damages for my unlawful detainment? I am sorry to say, I did none of the above. Public Intox is a criminal misdemeanor, on par with driving without a seatbelt, and a lesser offense than driving under 20 mph over the speed limit (at least according to the fines).

So I did nothing, the ticket did not require a court appearance, though I could have appeared in court on Jan. 2. I spent my winter break in the Chicago area, and had plans after the 2nd, so it would have cost me more to go back to [law school town] to appear in court, when I would just have to head back to Chicago. I did not even take the chance to plead nolo contendre. So I paid the $70 fine by mail. And possibly fucked myself in the process.

The other kids that got tickets that night all appeared in court and plead not guilty. The prosecuting attorney dismissed (or refused to prosecute really) all the cases, saying something to the effect of “are these those damn porch cases again?”

The funny thing (at least to me), is that in my cost benefit analysis of showing in court, I researched the law in this state, and found two cases from state appellate courts explicitly stating that a porch could be a public area, as well as a United States Supreme Court decision implicitly stating that a porch could be public (I will not get into the specifics, but the state court decisions seemed pretty definitive in regards to my situation, and they were appellate decisions, not State Supreme Court, and I do not know what district I am in, so if the court had to follow those decisions is something I will never know). However, it appears that the DAs in this town do not consider a porch to be a public place. That is good to know. Or would have been good to know anyway.

So to reframe Cop#2’s question, what did I learn from this? Eh, probably nothing.

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