Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Guilty as hell

. . . which we all knew. But it's sure nice to have a judge say it. I just got home from work (it's 9:30 p.m.), and my husband wants to go to sleep already, poor exhausted guy, so I'm going to keep this as short as I can while providing a few details.

The driver came in late, literally as the judge was calling his name as one of the names to be given bench warrants for not appearing. The driver, AC, refused to look me or my husband in the eye the entire time we were in there.

Let's see. The short version. The solicitor--who had told us she'd meet with us at 1:30, but did not--called my husband and AC back to a separate room. I could not be in there. Apparently AC announced he would like to plead no lo, as he hadn't realized he could plead that previously since he had pled no lo to something else in the last four years. What he had pled no lo on was a different offense, so he could plead it again . . . potentially. But my husband told the attorney he did not want AC to be allowed to plead no lo. She asked why, and he showed her photos of what his body and face looked like in the hospital while he described his injuries. I had had him blow these photos up to 8x10" for effect, and it worked. She refused to agree to the no lo plea.

AC did not have representation (our attorney for the civil matter said, "What a dumbass."), and his one question of my husband during cross-examination was, "Uh, did you look both ways before you crossed the street?" This is an especially funny question given that the street my husband was hit on is a one-way street. My husband managed to just say simply, "Yes," and with that one word convey what, yes, a dumbass this guy was.

So . . . AC's defense was . . . basically non-existent. "There were cars parked on both sides of the street, your honor." Yes, he said, my husband was in the crosswalk. Yes, he said, he did hit my husband.

Well, there you go. That's all you need in the state of GA. The rest is just details.

The prosecutor asked that my husband be allowed to give a victim's statement, and he did. He described his injuries, said he'd had to be in Grady Hospital for 10 days and that he imagined the court might understand what that meant, told them his wife had experienced a lot of mental anguish as she dealt with what happened, informed them his family had had to travel from VA to help care for him. He told the judge he is still in PT and will be until his strength has improved.

The judge then, I kid you not, must have said some variety of, "You're lucky this guy didn't die," and "It's amazing this isn't being tried in Superior Court. You have permanently injured this man" a dozen times.

He put off sentencing until he could get AC's driving record.

When he got the driving record a few minutes later, he asked the solicitor what punishment she wanted. She said, "A $500 fine and driving school." My husband and I both thought, That's all? The judge asked AC what AC thought of that. "Well, your honor, I'd be happy to go to driving school."

"Yeah, I bet you would," the judge replied. "But you're going to do a lot more than that."

The thing is, AC was in a car accident two months before he hit my husband. Then he hit my husband. Then he got a ticket for making an illegal left-hand turn NINE DAYS LATER. That combination really grated on the judge.

So the judge informed AC that he would have his license suspended for three months, would do 40 hours community service, would pay $1500 in fines and fees, would attend driving school to get his license back after three months, and--this is the kicker--that he would be on probation until November 19 of this year ("a date that is not a coincidence, I would like to point out," he said--the anniversary of the accident) , at which time, if the judge finds that AC has gotten any vehicle-related violations of any sort between now and then, AC will go to jail. "And now," the judge concluded, "you can go sit on the front row for a while. You are going to need to call someone to pick you up, because you don't have a driver's license anymore."

And that--that is awesome.

My husband says that if at any point AC had said to him, "You know, I just want you to know I'm really sorry for what I did. It really weighs on me," my husband would have seriously considered supporting the no lo plea. But AC never spoke to him and never looked at him. He showed no remorse. So he gets what he deserves.

And seriously? Seriously, when we left the courtroom, one of the other guys who had been in there was with us took the elevator with us. "That guy doesn't need to be allowed to drive nothin'," he said of AC. "He don't even need to be driving a bicycle!"


Kim said...

Congratulations on the well deserved victory!!!!

Anonymous said...

Crying tears of relief here - sometimes this system works. I am shouting for joy for you! Anyone who knows the two of you knows this is something to celebrate!

Andrea said...


What an asshole. His community service should be picking up dirty diapers off the side of the freeway. Jerk.

Smiles for you and your husband.

Chris H said...

Thank goodness you had a good judge! Please tell me what is a NO LO ?

Sonya said...

Oh, I'm soooo happy that it worked out! You both must feel so vindicated. It burns me that the jerk (and he's waaaay more than a "jerk" - I'm just using polite language) didn't even apologize. He should have gone behind bars for what he did.

Either way, you can now close this chapter and move on.;-) Congrats!

the veggie paparazzo said...

Kim, thanks!

Anon (K.), thank you. :)

Andrea, your comment had me laughing. I wish we got to choose his community service. Watch him call the non-profit I work for and ask to do his community service here. I would make sure he got the nastiest work possible. I'm not usually a vindictive person, but damn.

Chris, "No lo" means "nolo contendre" (Latin for "I will not defend it") and is used in the US court system for certain misdemeanors when a person doesn't want to admit guilt but doesn't want to declare that he/she is not guilty, either. That person is still sentenced in whatever way as if he/she were guilty, but in this case, the guy would not have been given points on his license. (Your car insurance goes up when you get points, and eventually you lose your license when you get to a certain number of points.) We didn't want him to get a lighter sentence by pleading no lo.

Sonya, thanks. I'm going to get my hubby to email y'all that this weekend.

:-) said...

Justice! That judge rocks!

Mal said...

I was holding my breath! I always feel so much better when people are reasonable and rational about things (even things that don't feel reasonable and rational, such as almost losing a loved one!) and it sounds like you got that AND THEN SOME in this case. It must be heaven now to have that burden lifted from you both. My thoughts were with you yesterday.

S C, aka Tubby said...

It's so nice to see justice being served! I like this judge. AC deserved to have the book thrown at him.

Congratulations! I'm glad things are going well for you.

Georgia Girl said...

sounds like you had a good judge. this a.c. guy sounds like a total moron! anyways, i'm glad it worked out, and it must feel sooo good to have this behind you.

congrats on your couch-2-5k progress. yay!

Lola said...

Congrats on your victory.

Best wishes to your husband for a full recovery.
And to you, for showing such strength during it all.

metamorphose said...

So glad you had a good judge!

I can't believe this AC guy.

I remember when I caused a car accident years ago -luckily no one was seriously injured -the first thing I did was get out of my car and apologize to the people in the other car for causing such trauma. To do what he did, and show no remorse....

How can someone be so heartless?