I was in court today. No, I was not the defendant; I was there to support a teenaged member of my extended family who did something stupid.

Courtrooms everywhere seem to have one thing in common; they are designed to instill awe and fear in those who draw near to the seat of justice. For me, though, the end result was annoyance.

For starters, there was the usual airport-like metal-detector screening. One of the machines was so sensitive that it complained about my belt buckle and I was commanded to remove my belt. Unlike the airport, however, these checkpoints were manned by real Policemen and not TSA rent-a-cops. Also unlike the airport, no devices with cameras were allowed. This effectively meant no cellphones… unless you were a staffer or lawyer who had a pass that allowed you to bypass security.

That, however, was a minor inconvenience compared to the courtroom itself. No electronics of any kind were allowed in court. No iPod, no PDA, no cellphone. Since I carry an iPod, a PDA and a Cellphone on my belt, this meant returning to the car to leave them there and pray that nobody stole them.

No reading matter of any kind was allowed either – if you were there for a case that was running late, there was absolutely no cure for boredom; all you could do was to watch the endless parade of cases, lawyers and defendants.

I understand the need for silence in the courtroom, but this is ridiculous. Next to this, spending half the day in line a my local INS office was a pleasant experience.

And this was all as an innocent bystander (are there ever such things as “guilty bystanders”?). I pray that neither I nor anyone I care for ever falls victim to the machine that we call Justice.

Now Reading: Vulcan 607 By Rowland White

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