When I was a young(er) lawyer, my father got a speeding ticket. “I wasn’t speeding” he protested. “I wanna fight this thing. You wanna be my lawyer?” he asked me. I’d never handled a speeding ticket but I said “sure, Dad.”
So on the appointed day of the court hearing for my father’s speeding ticket, we showed up and sat toward the back of the courtroom. The room was crowded and people milled around. The judge entered. Everyone rose. And the judge got down to business – “anyone who wants to plead guilty, I’m willing to give you supervision – which means you pay a fine but if you get no ticket in the next six months, the conviction is wiped out.” The judge directed those interested toward a window where they would pay a fine but get their “supervision.” My father – who had been deaf since World War Two – didn’t hear but I knew he wasn’t interested (“I wanna fight this thing“).
After a while, my father’s case was called and I took my father’s arm, stood – and we walked to the front. And stepped before the judge. “Good morning, your Honor” I said. “My name is Scott Petersen and I’m here representing the defendant Peter Petersen.” The judge got a glint in his eye and looked at me. Smiling. “Is he your father?” “Yes Your Honor” I replied seriously. The judge chuckled. Looked at the ticket and said “case dismissed.” I thanked the judge for this amazing gift – and started to lead my father away. He pulled back – “wait I wanna say . . . ” “DAD” I hissed – and put a finger to my lips.
I’ve had a few cases in my career but none that gave me the satisfaction of that one. Once outside the courtroom, I explained that the case had been dismissed. He smiled. “You’re pretty good,” he said. Yep.