Thursday, March 01, 2007


So for the next 8 weeks, or so, I called in and reported to Leta the Bail Bondsman from Hell on Friday mornings. It made me feel guilty and angry every time and I was pretty resentful. It didn’t matter if I was in a board meeting or a staff meeting or knee deep in snapping alligators – I had to stop what I was doing and find a place to hide so I could make the call and report in every Friday morning.

Snarly Leta: “What have you been doing this week?”

Snarly Me: “Working”

Snarly Leta: “Have you been intoxicated or done drugs in the last week?”

Snarly Me: “No”

My snarly thought bubble: “Who would really admit to that, anyway?”

Snarly Leta: “Have you altered your appearance in any way?”

Snarly Me: Biting my tongue and suppressing an overwhelming urge to come back with a smart aleck response…”No”.

Snarly Leta: “Have you moved or changed jobs in the last week?”

And on, and on, and on. So tiring and so insulting. All for a $1,000 bond in Eastland County over a crime that I believed wouldn’t hold up in court.

And it didn’t.

One day I received a phone call that my court date had been set for a day in July, about 9 weeks after my unfortunate incarceration. I had to jump through all sorts of hoops to alter my work schedule, because I was only given about five days notice before I needed to appear. I managed to work it out without having to explain where I was going, and I left Austin at 4:00 a.m., arriving in Eastland around 7:30 a.m.

By 8:00 a.m. I was in front of the judge.

This judge was a nice enough man but he was too preachy. I had met with an attorney on a few different occasions, so I had all of my ducks in a row and I was able to present my side of the story pretty clearly. My overriding point was that I was never told about this form 1022 at any point along the way. How was I able to comply with the law if I didn’t even know the law existed?

He kept coming back at me with his argument that ignorance of the law is no defense. That if I had killed a man, but claimed to not know murder was illegal, wouldn’t I still be guilty of the crime?

That really rubbed me the wrong way, and as hard as it was for me to keep the are-you-serious? attitude out of my voice, I replied that I felt his analogy was way out of line with the “crime” I committed, and that I would wager that the majority of American adults know that murder is illegal, but I’d be surprised if a tiny fraction of adults know anything about the laws governing the form 1022. Asshole. Okay, I didn’t say asshole, but I wanted to.

He kept hemming and hawing, saying that he believed that showing leniency was not the way to enforce justice. (By the way, the stakes here were me having to spend 2 more days in jail – for a total of 72 hours in jail - and paying up to a $10,000 fine.).

To that I got red faced and had to hold back hot tears of anger when I responded that I wasn’t looking for leniency. I believe that the punishment I had already received was more than enough for my not submitting the form 1022, EVEN THOUGH I could show proof that I had purchased insurance less than 24 hours after receiving the original ticket AND I could show proof that I had submitted the blessed form 1022 less than 24 hours after discovering the transgression.

I told him that the punishment I received did not fit the crime, and I had MORE than paid my debt to society. So I wasn’t asking him to show my leniency. I was asking him to show me fairness. Asshole.

He had to “deliberate” for awhile so I sat out in the hallway and felt helpless and angry. When he finally called me back in, without any explanation or apology or anything, he banged his little gavel and said that he had found me “not guilty”. With little fanfare, I got up and left the courtroom and signed a few papers and it was done. No crime committed.

As I was driving back to Austin I felt tired and exhausted by this whole experience. I was out almost $1,700 after having to pay Leta, get my car out of impound and consulting with an attorney. I endured a lot of stress and mental anguish over the whole thing. All to be found not guilty in the end. It just didn’t seem right.

The whole catalyst to this nightmare had been my being pulled over for driving 38 in a 35 mile an hour zone. That ticket? It vanished. There was no record of it anywhere. My guess is that they felt pretty badly for me at the Eastland County jail, so they just pretended that that ticket never happened.

But it was OVER and that was the most important thing.

And over time? I began to find the whole ordeal more and more funny. Unbelievably funny.

I must admit, I learned a lesson. I play by the rules. I drive the speed limit. I park where I’m supposed to. I am hyper aware of my surroundings when I drive. I am now organized within an inch of my life when it comes to insurance. I am the very model of a very model citizen.

Because I like life on the outside.

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