Having watched, Court TV (now True TV), with its high-profile cases has always intrigued and fascinated me, so last month, I decided to go downtown to Los Angeles’ largest courthouse, for a real-life taste of the legal system. Wishing to see American law in action, I decided to visit the Los Angeles Court House on April 2, 2008. It was a sexually-based murder case, and the atmosphere was electric. The overriding sense I felt was that I thank God for my being an ordinary person. The mere thought of being caught up in any criminal situation fills me with an indescribable dread.

My stomach turned when hearing what crime this particular accused man had committed. One cannot imagine being led into court, to face the sharp minds of the lawyers, both of the defense and of the prosecution, along with the ever-present deputy, court reporter, the judge, and of course the twelve jurors who are the holders of the fate of each and every criminal who is stupid enough to do the crime of usually having either murdered or badly damaged some innocent soul for the rest of their lives.

The battle of words between prosecutor and defense attorneys reminds me of a verbal tennis match, each scoring points with their varying degrees of legal talent and knowledge. To witness the positive dexterity of the judge who, like a tennis umpire, has the huge responsibility of keeping everyone playing by the rules so that this amalgam of legal minds with, hopefully, genuine justice being the victor. The sights that hurt the most are the sad, distraught faces of the family of the accused, but more than that, the faces of the victim’s family, especially if it was a rape or murder.

It appears to me that there is a calculated sense of calm in the judge, bailiff, and court reporter. To see “the law” in motion is certainly an extraordinary situation. The quote that comes to mind is “but for the grace of God go I”. Another element that occurs to me is how on earth any human can go out to commit a crime when they know that upon arrest, they are going to prison, hence the saying “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”.

There was, on this day, one sad, heartfelt moment for me personally, which tore at my heart. The accused was in court, about to get four years for a drug case, and as I looked into the public gallery, I saw what I assume was the mother of the accused. Her face was begging him to just look up at her before he was taken and locked up for four years. He, of course, had other things on his mind. He glanced at her, bereft of love or basic human concern. What pain she will now experience. The mean-spirited criminal bastards do more damage than they know when they selfishly commit their crimes. This, then, is to me the worst element of criminal activity, the pain and humiliation of the families and friends who are left to wonder and be perplexed by the actions of these selfish, thoughtless individuals.

The most frightening part of this is the stunning quantity of felons who are locked up in this rather greedy nation, with a government which seems to encourage immaturity in its citizens (to better facilitate in the easy placation with popcorn and canned violence). When you have all the guns in the world, and a race for greed and possessions, you are going eventually to reach a boiling point, and that surely is when the moral status quo breaks down, and then everybody has to pay in one form or another.

Yours lawfully,


© Copyright 2011 John Levene Sgt. At Arms
Doctor Who is copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 1963, 2011.
No infringement of this copyright is either implied or intended.