Today is January 7, 2014, and it’s frigging cold as balls. Not as cold as balls as it was yesterday, when wind chill made temps feel like they’d plummeted to about -45F. Today, when I set out for the Grundy County Courthouse located in Morris, Illinois, about an hour from my home, the thermometer on my dash said that it was -8F. No clue what it was with windchill, but probably at least 30 below, if not 40. Probably 40ish.
We were lucky enough to have a snow day yesterday, so our afternoon sentencing hearing in a Grooming/Indecent Solicitation case involving a teacher and baseball coach and his student was bumped.
I had a mitigation packet jam-packed with letters of support from our wonderful client’s family, his friends, his co-workers, and former students of his, as well as certificates from all his training programs as an EMT and firefighter, and I had to deliver a copy to the State and Judge.
Because of the holidays and the weather, we weren’t able to get all of it together until Friday. So I was going to go deliver it Monday morning, so the Judge had time to read it before we returned that afternoon for sentencing, but that didn’t happen because of the snow and the temps.
So I went this morning to deliver the packets, and to say that I was bundled up would be a bit of an understatement.
Can you tell I’m smiling? :P BECAUSE I AM.
God. I was wearing like 18 layers: shearling boots and fleece lined tights and thermal leggings and my dress and blazer and my heavy faux fur coat (it’s lined on the inside and SO WARM) and God knows what else. Hats and scarves and mittens, obviously.
But it wasn’t that bad, actually. You’d think -30F or -40F or whatever the hell it was (balls is what it was) would be miserable, but the walk was kind of brisk and lovely. In a freeze-your-boogers sort of way.
If girls even had boogers.
Which everyone knows we DO NOT.
It turns out, adorably enough, that the Judge wasn’t in because he was dropping his son off to work. That’s what I love about these smaller counties. Grundy County has, like, three judges. They’re all general jurisdiction, to my knowledge, so they handle everything, which is pretty amazing. For example, in Cook County, you’ve got at LEAST 20 or so judges who ONLY handle criminal felonies. Then you’ve probably got 30 or so that handle ONLY criminal misdemeanors. I’m fudging the numbers a bit, but it’s a couple felony judges at each of the six districts.
But in Grundy County, they have three judges who handle everything. So they’ve got a criminal case going and a bankruptcy thing and some insurance stuff, I don’t even know. And I think that’s pretty cool.
And I love the small-county feel. These courthouses are, basically, just a bit more informal. The judges tend to be a lot more informal with the attorneys, who, from what I’ve seen (and done) walk freely in and out of chambers and just have more casual exchanges in general with the Judge, I guess, is kind of what I”m saying.
I don’t know. It’s more of a feeling than concrete examples I can point to. I’m not saying there’s a lapse in decorum: judges are always treated like judges. But there’s a difference between how courthouses in Cook County function in terms of formality and how smaller courthouses like Grundy or Iroquois or whatever.
But I love love love the Grundy County Courthouse. There’s a big courtroom upstairs where we usually are. It’s gorgeous. It’s so old-timey. Take a look!
Ignore my crap on the table. But see? Isn’t that gorgeous?
That’s the jury box. They have a wooden chair for each individual juror. Love it.
And this is the Defense side of the aisle. Look at all those chairs. Isn’t that just gorgeous?
I love this courtroom.