Great legal advice without the hassle

Here in S’lano County, where men are men and women throw a mean right cross, many of us seem to spend an inordinate amount of our time in the county’s courtrooms.

Let’s face it, the average Solanoan is easily annoyed, so we’re quick to file a lawsuit over the slightest affront or resort to gunfire if we’re in a hurry and a sawed-off shotgun is readily available.

Either way, we can expect a trip to the Hall of Justice to have our grievances heard by an impartial judge or jury, all of whom are as easily aggravated as the rest of us but try to keep a lid on their indigenous indignation until court recesses.

Complicating matters is the fact that most people making use of the county’s justice system also require an attorney to help them navigate the twists and turns of legal procedure.

I know what you’re thinking: “An attorney? Dude, what a hassle…”

Yes, picking the right attorney and working your way through the mechanics of the courts can be a difficult task here in S’lano County, but not an impossible one if you know where to look for good prelegal guidance.

After an intensive, 45-minute investigation, I’ve identified several locations in and around the Hall of Justice in Fairfield where you can sometimes get marginally correct legal advice – not always, but occasionally – without having to take out a second mortgage.

They include:

* The parking lot. Spend a little time here and you’ll get to know all the players – attorneys, deputy district attorneys, judges, bailiffs and, if you’re lucky, a guy who’s been arrested so many times that he knows the justice system like the back of his handcuffs. If you ask the right questions, they’re all chock full of information – particularly the frequent-flier felon.

(Hey, he’s not in custody, so he’s gotta know something…).

* The line for the courthouse metal detector. You’ve got nothing better to do while the eight people ahead of you try to slip through with engine blocks concealed under their overcoats, so chat up neighbors in line. Chances are one or more of them have had some experience with the type of legal action in which you’re engaged and will be more than glad to expound upon a reasonable course of action.

With luck, you may even encounter an ex-juror, former parking enforcement officer or amusement park security guard.

Listen in on nearby conversations, too. You never know what gem of legal insight you may overhear.

(My personal favorite is “Cop a plea an’ win it on appeal – then ya don’t have to mess wit’ a jury…”)

* The stairwell in the Hall of Justice. This is where you’ll find the legal community’s movers and shakers hurrying from courtroom to courtroom on their appointed rounds. By afternoon, they’re usually moving rather slowly and you can hit them with a question or two between floors.

Sometimes you’ll find these very same movers and shakers simply standing in the stairwell, muttering and banging their heads against the wall. This, too, can be quite instructive…

Originally published April 20, 2003

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