Thursday, 21 April 2011
The courtroom was low ceilinged, carpeted, with bright lights and a lot of wood accents. Kind of like a basement in a nice suburban house. I was dressed in clean clothes that matched pretty well. I was shaved, gargled and combed. I was ready for my battle with the law.
We rose. We sat. The clerk read the charge. On or about the 16th of March the defendant -- me -- was found to not be wearing a seatbelt in contravention of Section something or other of Statute this and that.
The prosecutor shook his head sadly. (Seatbelt crime is tough. You hear some pretty grim stories.) The judge asked if I had anything to say. Did I? You bet I did. I stood up, shot my sleeves (no cuffs on my sweatshirt) and addressed the Bench.
My original thought had been to go with the stout denial defence, to maintain that I had been wearing a seatbelt all the time, that I always wore one, never took it off, not even to get gas, was in fact wearing one now ... but the case on the docket before me had attempted such a defence (I don't even own a cell phone!) and the judge had shut him down pretty hard. So I went with plan B.
I held out my hands, palm up. I raised my left eyebrow and cleared my throat. I was attempting the "C'mon, really?" defence. The idea is to make the crown feel bad for prosecuting such a silly crime when there are rapists and murderers and drug kingpins out there who are much better targets for legal stricture.
Yes, Mr Scrimger? said the judge. I maintained my pose. No words are uttered in the "C'mon, really" defence. It's all in the attitude. The prosecutor asked a couple of questions. The judge too. After a few painful minutes I was led off over to the window to pay my fine.
What were you thinking? the prosecutor asked me as I passed his table.
You mean about how stupid the charge was? I said.
No, I mean what were you doing, not wearing a seatbelt? This isn't BC, you know. There's rule of law here. This province prides itself on being tough on seatbelt crime.