I witnessed obviously angry people being disrespectful towards the judge by their demeanor, tone, language, attitude or even dress in the courtroom. I learned that whether one deserves a ticket or not, being disrespectful towards the system and the person administering it makes that person appear guilty and disdainful.
I witnessed people who had several counts against them expecting the judge to drop one or more counts just because in between the interim of them getting caught and the day of appearance they had made moves to rectify their infractions. If the judge did not drop a count due to insufficient proof, they became indignant. I learned that entitlement makes one look extremely foolish.
I witnessed people obviously lying. I learned that lying is obvious.
I also witnessed people who despite their anger or frustration, still admitting their mistake, and respectfully addressing the judge; submitting to the system despite its flaws. And people who despite their good cause for their infraction, refusing to take up any more of the court’s time and paying their fine instead. I saw people who had been taught and had learned decorum and appropriateness and I learned that those people appear above all else, dignified.
Although I plan never again to find myself in traffic court, I initially thought that having to go was going to be a waste of time. I found that there was a lot to be learned. I found it ironic that I became grateful for the experience. I found that the act of submitting is not necessarily admitting guilt, but being respectful to a system for what that system represents. I found that dignity is a characteristic that’s worth being truthful, transparent and vulnerable for. I learned.
-Tessa L. Charles