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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Magistrate, The Klearly Kangeroo Kourt, and The Koji Komedy Klub Kafka-esque Kriminal Trial (and a few Dance Club Photos to Rile Up the Internally-Konflicted "Bobs blog" Kommenters)

It should have been a dead giveaway when The Magistrate announced that he'd "entered a nolle" in the first case on the docket.  Prosecutors enter nolles.  Judges "note for the record that the prosecutor has entered a nolle; the defendant is free to go."

At that point, my illusion that my case would be heard by somebody functioning as if he were a Superior Court judge should have evaporated.  I was surprised to hear Attorney Gerald Cohen, The Magistrate, speaking words which real judges never utter, but I was in a courtroom, old and worn out though it was, and the trappings and furniture of Justice unconsciously told me I was going to get at least a fair hearing in my case.

I was also surprised that I wasn't going to get a Court trial.  As I reported in an earlier blog, it surprised me at my arraignment (first court appearance) that the prosecutor, Joe Danielowski, reduced the charge to simple trespass to avoid my wish for a jury trial.  At that time he also announced to Judge Licari that I'd be getting a magistrate's hearing.  Later research in the Connecticut criminal procedure statutes revealed to me that a simple trespass charge is not eligible for magistrate's hearing.  As minor an infraction as it is, the defendant [I] is [am] entitled to a trial by a full-fledged Superior Court judge.  I assure you of this: I've seen Superior Court judges, and Attorney Gernald Cohen is no Superior Court judge.

Two cases were heard on the merits before mine, which was put off until the end of the docket.  In both other cases, the prosecutor was a very nice woman who smiled when she later learned that I was both a defendant and a lawyer.  This young lady was low-key and competent, but The Magistrate, and the self-represented defendants, let he get away with eliciting all kinds of inadmissible hearsay evidence in both cases.  Also, one of the defendants, a young man with an Italian surname (I can't recall it), wearing a Desert Storm jump suit [Military Defendant], was convicted by The Magistrate of having a noisy, "defective" muffler on his car, on very flimsy evidence.

Military Defendant didn't have a clue about how the trial process worked.  But he certainly did have good common sense and intelligence enough to realize that the State of Connecticut, in the person of the female prosecutor and the testifying New Haven police officer had a weak case.  He asked some excellent questions on cross-examination.  Soldier: "How could you pick out my car's muffler noise from the 40 other cars in the parking lot that night?"  The cop had no good answer.  "I saw you accelerate as you left the parking lot and heard the noise from your muffler increase."  Soldier: "But I didn't accelerate, did I, wasn't I only going about 5 miles an hour, real slow, as I exited the lot?" Cop: "Well, as best I recall, I think you really put on the gas." Soldier: "But you're not really certain about that, right?"  Cop: "Well, yeah.  But I think you stepped on it."

Had I been hearing this case as The Magistrate, I would have found that the State failed in its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Had this been a civil case, involving money damages, where the burden of proof is only "a fair preponderance of the evidence," I would not have been surprised with a finding of liability.  But where the State's only witness is as uncertain of the facts as this cop was, there's no way the State met its heavy burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Imagine if this soldier's life were at stake and this were a first degree murder case, in which the crime was "death penalty eligible."  Would The Magistrate, if he were hearing this case without a jury, find Military Defendant guilty and go on to determine whether the soldier should be put to death?  It's considerations like these which explain why it's important for the Justice System as a whole that fair trials be given even to defendants charged with minor infractions, like Military Defendant (defective muffler) and myself (simple trespass), both of which are "fine-only eligible" infractions.

Gerald H. Cohen, Esq., The Magistrate, is about 70 years old.  Based on a Google search I did at home after court, he's a solo practitioner in Hamden, Connecticut, north of New Haven.  He's been a lawyer since 1966 and specializes in Family Law, Industrial Development Law, Personal Injury, and Real Estate.  He doesn't say he practices, or ever practiced, criminal law, and it shows in the way he conducts criminal trials as The Magistrate.  There's no indication in the way he behaves in a courtroom that he has any interest in, or familiarity with, American Justice.  As The Magistrate, his speciality seems to be functioning as The Rubber Stamper.  In Gerry's World of Justice the leading legal principle is Crap In, Crap Out.

He calls himself Gerry Cohen from the bench, where he sat yesterday in a dark business suit beneath his full head of snow white hair.  His face has a pinkish tone and he displays an expression of mild bewilderment throughout the trials.  I saw Gerry get irritated several times with the two defendants before me, The Soldier and a black woman charged with simple trespass for doing computer work in one of Yale's many libraries.  And Mr. Cohen got irritated with me when I presented relevant evidence about the invitation I received from the emcee of the Koji Komedy Klub to return to the KKK on October 17, 2011.  This invitation followed my angering the other comics on October 3, 2011 when I apologized to the young black Goddess who came to watch the show but was forced to sit through a bunch of young male comics who talked mostly about coming on women, anal sex, the "n" word (as in "n"s should be lynched like apples hanging from trees), and jews who should be stored in car ashtrays.

Mr. Cohen has no clue about the Connecticut Rules of Evidence.  He also overrules all objections a defendant makes to questions by the prosecutor, even when the objection clearly should be sustained.  He also applies the rules of evidence in one way to the State and another way to the defendant.  For example, in my case, prosecutor Danielowski called one of the cops, Officer Matthew Abbate, as his second witness.  He asked the officer to tell The Magistrate what the complaining witness, Tuan Tran, who calls himself the "owner" of the Koji Komedy Klub in court, told the cop about what had happened in my case on the night I was arrested.  Of course, this was inadmissible hearsay, for which the "offered to show the effect on the hearer" exception to the hearsay rule did not apply.  Nonetheless, The Magistrate overruled my timely objection to this question.  This was improper because Mr. Tran was available to testify, had in fact already testified just moments before the cop took the stand, and the effect of what Mr. Tran may have told the cop was irrelevant to the charge against ME anyway.  Hence, my objection should have been sustained, and any Real Judge would have known that and so ruled.  Not The Magistrate, Gerry Cohen.

Then, during my case, I began to offer testimony, under the same hearsay exception asserted by the prosecutor, that Beecher, the KKK emcee, had invited me to return to the KKK on October 17, 2011.  For that reason I reasonably believed that I had the right to return to the KKK and, therefore, was clearly Not Guilty of the simple trespass charge.  Gerry, The Magistrate, for reasons known only to him, decided that my proper use of the hearsay exception would be improper, and inadmissible, in his courtroom.  At that point, my illusion, that justice could be had in this real courtroom, presided over by The Magistrate, Mr. Gerry Cohen, Attorney-at-Law, died with a sudden cardiac arrest.  How appropriate that a case involving the KKK (Koji Komedy Klub) would be heard in a Klearly Kangaroo Kourt (also a KKK)?!

The prosecutor called Tuan Tran and the cop as witnesses.  The key thing about the testimony was the perjury of Mr. Tran.  It ranged from irrelevant, but comic, fibs to relevant, and serious, lies.  The comic category included his making up a story that after Elijah led me into the KKK with a rope around my waist, with dark sunglasses, as if I were blind, one or both of us tied both of us to a bar stool.  On cross examination by me, Mr. Tran could not give any details about who allegedly tied us up, what type of knot allegedly was used, or any other details.  Because the tying to the bar stool never happened, it's not surprising Mr. Tran could not recall the details and at least in that instance he decided not to make up a lie and claim it was his recollection.

But then Mr. Tran claimed that none of the comics in the KKK used the "n" word, told jokes about "n"s being lynched, jews who should be stored in ashtrays in cars, and anal and oral sex and other filthy "funny" observations about life and romantic love (ha-ha-ha).  I wonder if he lied about that because his wife happened to come with him to court and was not ordered on my motion to be sequestered (kept out of the courtroom) during his testimony.  She was, like him, Asian, and smiled at me at one point before my case was called, while she and Mr. Tran were sitting in the jury box with the cop, and I in the peanut gallery with the other defendants. She seemed like a nice person and probably would be horrified to hear what passes for comedy in her beloved husband's KKK.

Another bit of perjured testimony which emanated from Mr. Tran's frightened and overactive imagination was his claim that I had made sexually offensive remarks to his female bartender.   That lie was told during Mr. Tran's direct examination by prosecutor Danielowski.  On cross, Mr. Tran backed down from his Perjury Perch when I challenged him on the point.  I: "Mr. Tran, it's not your testimony, is it, under penalty of perjury, under oath, that you heard me say sexually offensive comments to your female bartender?"  Tran: "Well, no, I just heard from somebody else you did."  He couldn't remember who allegedly reported this to him.  Although I can only speculate why he would tell this particular lie, my hunch is his wife is appalled at reports of what passes for humor in her hubby's KKK and to try to direct the heat of her irritation from him to me, Tran tries to throw the Sexually Offensive Remarks hot potato from him and his KKK to me, who only does clean jokes, albeit perhaps not funny.  I'll let others make that call.

Tran also perjured himself by claiming I told him "I'll own this bar," on the night of my arrest, while I was waiting for the police to arrive and Tran was refusing to tell me who he was and who the permittee and backer of the KKK were.  That alleged threat, which I never made, is the kind of thing laypeople hear about or see in the movies.  It's maybe Tran's Big Fear, that maybe my true purpose in taking this case to trial is to set up a civil lawsuit for big money damages against Tran and the KKK.  That's the farthest thing from my mind.  I have no interest in owning the KKK or getting big money damages.  I would like a negotiated settlement under which Tran has to allow me to return as I wish to the KKK on any given Monday, to do my comedy routines.  I would of course agree in the future not to criticize any other comic, or their material, no matter how offensive to my perhaps old-fashioned ear.  And I may need to take legal action to get such an agreement if Tran is unwilling to negotiate it with me directly, which I would prefer to the inefficient vehicle of the court system and administrative agencies system.

In the end, the State did not establish the elements of a simple trespass violation.  But that didn't stop Gerry Cohen from denying my Motion to Dismiss the State's case when the prosecutor rested, and it didn't keep The Magistrate from finding me guilty of simple trespass and giving me a $99 fine, the maximum punishment for this violation, despite my giving Gerry a copy of an Appellate Court case which was on all fours (as we lawyers say with respect to other cases which have highly similar facts to the case on trial) with my case.  Under that Appellate Court decision I was clearly not guilty of simple trespass.

I asked Gerry if he would please articulate the basis of his conclusion that I was guilty as charged.  He refused to do so and probably for good reason.  I was not guilty and he would have been hard-pressed to explain rationally the basis for his decision that I WAS guilty.  He did stay the due date for payment of the fine so I could file an appeal to get a new trial before a Real Superior Court Judge, a man or woman who wears a black robe and has to be confirmed as a Superior Court judge by the Connecticut General Assembly.

After Gerry announced his decision, I shook Officer Abbate's and Mr. Tran's hands, said it was nice to see them both again, and headed directly to the Criminal Court Clerk's office where I filled out and filed a Magistrate Program Claim for a New Trial (De Novo).  "De novo" means, in Latin, "from the new," which means the case will be re-scheduled for another date, at which time a real judge will again listen to the evidence, hear argument, and make a decision.  Because the stakes are low in this case, I have no intention of putting the kind of investigative resources into my defense as I would if I were defending someone against a murder charge or handling a serious personal injury or other civil claim.  For that reason, I am in the position of having to trust that witnesses against me will tell the truth and not fabricate perjurious testimony to try to win a conviction.

The clerk told me the trial before an actual judge will probably be scheduled for sometime in January, 2012.  Even if I ultimately lose this case, which I don't expect I will, I want the trial process to be an actual trial, with due process and a judge who actually knows the rules of evidence and the substantive law of simple trespass.  I did not receive such due process or such competent judging from The Magistrate.  All the same, like every other experience in life, it's all fodder for a writer's craft.

And now, so I don't disappoint those of you who benefit from using my lifestyle as the occasion to stir your angst about your own lives, I give you herewith a few recent pictures showing the Crazy Old Dancin' Dude's Nightlife in the local Titanium Dance Club.  My hunch is these sorts of photographic tableaus stir the maximum anxiety and angst in that group of "Bobs blog" readers when presented by me without comment.  That maximizes the "blank screen for psychological protection" effect of the photographs.  Here they are:

Titanium Club, November 26, 2011


Titanium Club, Black Friday, November 25, 2011


Titanium Club, November 17, 2011, wearing R. Hope Company (RHC) tee shirt given to Crazy Dancin' Dude by RHC club promotion company 


Titanium Club, November 4, 2011


Still havin' a blast dancin'......

Friday, November 18, 2011

Update on Bob--What I've been up to the past month or so (and 8 Dance Club pictures at the end of the blog)

Finally the Big Move has been accomplished and Susie's now in the new house at Bartlett Hollow.  I'm staying in the old house on Chimney Hill until we sell it.  It's always good to have a caretaker in an empty home.

By popular demand, I'm writing today about what's been happening in my life these past few weeks.  Although I'm technically retired, I've made my life busier than ever, and a heckuva lot more fun than when I was practicing law and making 26 bi-weekly payrolls every year.

Church

I've finally made my decision known that I want to join Zion First Black Baptist Church.  I've  been going to services and participating in the life of Zion since early July of this year.  Many parishoners had thought I'd already joined the church, but I haven't.  I was waiting for a propitious moment to make a public statement of my wish to become a full member.  And that moment was last Sunday.  Rev. Giles' home church, the black baptist church of Bridghampton, Lone Island visited Zion last Sunday, which was our Mens' Day.  The men of our church were responsible for the worship service.  I've been attending the monthly meetings of the mens' group at Zion and participated in planning for Mens' Sunday.

Last Sunday morning, the church was packed to overflowing.  The east half of the church was Zion members, with the first two pews occupied by the men of Zion, including yours truly.  The west half of the church was mostly the Bridghampton congregation, but some of our women sat in the first few pews.  The Bridghampton mens' spirit choir sat in our choir loft, next between the piano on the west and the organ, guitarists, and drum set on the east.  Their mens' choir members all dressed in black suits and bright gold ties.  Two of their singers were classic doo-wop style singers, one a bass and the other a high barritone.  I've been listening to a lot of old doo-wop from the 40's, 50's, and 60's on my I-pod, mostly in my car, and these men were classic doo-wop singers.  The only difference was, their music was spiritual doo-wop, not the secular stuff we're all familiar with from our teenage years (The Spaniels; The Velvetones; and other similarly colorful names).

Rev. Frank Bryant, the Bridghampton minister, is a light-skinned man in his late 60's.  He has a doctorate in theology.  One of his parents was white, the other black.  He's married to a very lovely black woman who was, like all the women in black services, including ours at Zion, very stylishly dressed.  They have 7 grown, successful children.

Rev. Bryant gave a humdinger of a performance in the pulpit.  He preached, he sang, he stomped, he danced, he spun during the sermon.  By the end of it, he was fairly sweaty and a woman dressed in what amounted to a nurse's white dress and hat had rolled a white towel up and draped it around his neck.  This left the preacher looking like he had just won a heavyweight bout.

During the service, a man in his late 30's was suddenly moved by the Spirit to get out of his pew, dance to the front of the congregation, ask for a microphone, and deliver a kind of homily about how he's been diagnosed with dementia but the Lord healed him.  He stomped and danced in a circle up in front of the pulpit.  A woman in the front left (west) pew, from Zion, became overcome with emotion, praising God and Jesus for their divine power.  The women of Zion rallied around her with fans, the ones with photos on the back of Dr. King and President Obama, to try to cool her off and bring her down emotionally.

The Zion liturgy includes a moment when anyone moved to declare his or her committment to Jesus and wish to join the church is invited to come forward to make this known to the congregation.  And Sunday was my time to do this, so I moved forward stood on the right side of Deacon Bob Bailey, who was standing next to Deacon Curtis Cockfield.  I felt humbled and bowed my head.  Bob put his arm around my shoulders and listened as our minister, Rev. Giles, asked Deacon Bailey what was the pleasure of the congregation about my wish to join the church.  He also informed the congreagation, mainly for the benefit of the Bridghampton visitors, that I'd been coming to Zion for a few months.  Deacon Bailey then announced that Zion welcomed me to become a member and, with that, Rev. Giles said that Minister Toler would be in touch with me after the service to arrange to meet with me for instruction in the ways of the baptist church.  Rev. Giles also said he saw no reason why I couldn't be ready to be baptized by full immersion in the church in early December.

After the service there was a big meal in the parish hall, below the sanctuary, planned and implemented by the Zion mens' ministry.  Being part of the mens' group, I removed my double-breasted dark suit jacket and re tie and stood in the serving line to dish out the ribs and the chicken, beef and pork ribs and baked chicken.  The church service had started at 11 a.m., finished at 1:30 p.m., and the dinner was over by 3:30 p.m.  A long but very satifsfying and spiritually-rich day.

Opera

I love opera but don't like paying the Met ticket prices, parking, meals, and driving costs to and from NYC, just to sit in the last row of Orchestra and watch the action through binoculars and switch between binoculars and subtitles on the back of the cramped seat in front of me.  So upon the recommendation of my sister Carol and bro-in-law William I go to some of the Live at the Met HD performances at theaters in Manchester or North Haven.

Back in October, I saw a wonderful production of "Don Giovanni" with our dear friends, Sandra and Donald Oliver-Olsen, at the North Haven cinema.  DG was the first full opera I ever saw, years ago at the Met in NYC with Sandra.  I loved it then, at the City Opera at Lincoln Center, and I still love the story of two kinds of romantic love.  One of the males loves his woman with the kind of all-enveloping, fully-merged dependency in which there is no distinction between self and love object.  The other type is embodied in the character of Don Juan, who is so afraid of total merger with the beloved (and feared) love object that he can't really love any one woman and has to "love 'em and leave 'em."  This tableau plays itself out in a series of scenes of emotional turbluence, but above it all is the glorious music of Mozart.  This miraculous score makes me think of God, as a steady presence, a kind of basso continuo, which floats above the sturm and drang of earthly human existence, in all its turbulence, drama, and, what else is there to call it but, OPERA.

Somewhere between the polarities of dependent love and independent love is a happy medium.  Adult love.  The love of a man, or woman, for the lover, which is not the love of a child for the parent, or the love of a lothario for the woman he uses for his own pleasure, but the mature love which knows its limits, its blessings, its insufficiencies.

During the intermission, Renee Fleming interviewed the stars of the production.  In her talk with the star, Don Juan, the singer offers the insight that Don Juan's mania for lots and lots of women is born of depression.  I found that most insightful.  As I reflected on the story of the opera, it begins with the Don stabbing his new lover's father, the Commandantore, and fleeing the castle.  This led me to the thought that perhaps Don Juan is the story of everyman's Oedpial struggle--horror at his wish to kill his father and be the exclusive love object of his mother.  But this leads to another fear--the fear (and wish) to perhaps even sleep with his mother.  To avoid that fate, Don Juan romances and sleeps with thousands of women,  long enough to get physical pleasure but not long enough to get enveloped and, he fears, smothered by any one of them.

The Young Picasso exhibit at The Frick Museum in NYC

Last month I took the train to NYC to spend the day with my friend Nelson Horn.  Nelson now lives in Surf City, USA, Huntington Beach, Orange County, California but his daughter lives in NYC and his son in Boston.  So Nelson invited me to spend the say with him in the City.  We went to the Frick Museum on 5th Avenue to see the exhibit of Picasso's work from the age of 9 on.  It was extraordinary to observe the visual evidence of the developmen of an artistic genius.  At age 9, Picasso drew a sketch in pencil of his left hand.  At 10 he sketched a torso of an ancient sculpture.  It was clear that he had a complete grasp of three-dimensionality from a very young age.  He did have the advantage in life that his biological father was an art teacher.  I'm certainly no Picasso, but I did identify with seeing the extant evidence of a developing talent.  This resonated with my own process of forming a new personality in the world.

I also took the opportunity to speak French with some art tourists from Paris.  And I did a bit of spontaneous stand-up comedy with a few groups of Dutch art students who were visiting the Frick as part of a trip to the U.S. with their art class,  as well as with an older woman who happened to be from the Netherlands but I had a hard time guessing her nationality.

African drumming concert

Last Friday night, before I went dancing at the local dance clubs, I attended a free concert of the Wesleyan African drumming and dancing class taught by the Ghanian drumming and dancing guru, Abraham Adinijah.  It was a free concert at Crowell Concert Hall.  The concert lasted an hour and a half.  During the first number I sat in my seat, right in front of Jeff Hush and Lucia DeLeon (my friends from Wesleyan--Jeff--and Mexico City--Lucy) and the Indonesian pianist and composer, Gayathri and her English fiancee, Darren.  I moved to the music in my seat but refused to contain my wish to dance after the first song, so I got up and danced on the sidelines.  At first I danced in the ramp leading from the area beneath the foyer of the concert hall so only the performers on stage could see me.  But eventually a school newspaper photographer from Vietnam, a freshman, was dancing hip-hop style right next to me, so I came out of the ramp and just danced for the rest of the performance.  When it was obvious they'd gotten to the last number, I sat down in my seat, all sweaty now, and watched as many people who'd been sitting quietly in the seats finally caught the spirit of the dance and went up on stage to dance for the final song.

Afterwards I went home for a snack and then down to the local dance clubs to dance away the night until closing time at 2 a.m. since it was a Friday night.  The clubs close in Middletown at 1 a.m. on Thursdays.  Friday and Saturday are 2 a.m. closings.


Wesleyan Homecoming Weekend

Homecoming was a blast this year.  My good friend from Class of '71, Leo Au, and his wife, Melina, came up from their winter home in Florida for the weekend.  Susie and I got together with them for coffee at Javapalooza on Main Street on Saturday morning.  Then we all looked at the old house and our new home.  Leo and Melina liked the efficient, clean design and the "green" aspects of the construction.

Then we attended the reception for alumni who contribute regularly to the Wesleyan Annual Fund, at the new Usdan Student Center.  Following that we watched the football game between Wesleyan and Williams, which Wesleyan won.  During intermission we attended a party for alumni volunteers, which Leo was invited to and in turn he invited Susie and me to go with Melina and him over on Mount Vernon Street, within walking distance of the football field, which lies between Olin Library and the Usdan Center.

I then went by myself onto the grassy area outside the Usdan Center where members of the other Wesleyan sports teams were selling teeshirts and other merchandise for fundraising.  I did some ad lib stand-up with these young people about whatever came to mind as I talked with them.  The guys on the baseball team got a real kick out of the dancing I do at the clubs in town, at the black classic football game "happening" at Giants Stadium I've written about on "Bobs blog," and what it was like to go to Wesleyan when it was, in effect, and all-male monastic institution.

On Monday, I attended a lecture/discussion in Professor Bill Johnston's East Asian History class about the decsion to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I had never seen the formerly classified Top Secret memoranda among the WWII nuclear bomb decisionmakers. I had always assumed, rightly, that little thought was given to whether this was a necessary and "good" tactical decision.  Americans assume, without studying the issue, that America "had" to drop the bombs to end the war and save "American" lives.  The Japanese were already "suing" for peace in talks with the Russians.  It the American demand for total and unconditional surrender which the Japanese balked at doing, which prevented the war from ending without unleashing that nuclear holacaust.

My defense of the criminal trespass infraction charge in New Haven with respect to the KKK (Koji Komedy Klub)

My trial on the trespass charge (reduced unilaterally by the prosecutor to an non-criminal infraction charge of simple trespass during my first court appearance on October 28, 2011) is still set for Tuesday, November 29, 2011 in New Haven.  I had to make several phone calls and faxes, and an appearance at the courthouse, to finally get the prosecutor to give me the police report on my arrest.  Although I will not publish the police report on "Bobs blog" until after the trial, nor write about my trial defense strategy, suffice it to say I am NOT GUILTY as charged and expect (and hope) for full vindication at trial.  I have other legal avenues I am considering about this whole case, which I carefully have researched at our local library in the Middlesex County Courthouse Library.  But I will not write about any of that, either, until after the trial.

If you wish to watch the trial, please feel free to go to Courtroom E on the third floor of the New Haven Courthouse, 121 Elm Street, New Haven, on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 2 p.m.  Although the worst penalty I face if I am convicted (and if I then were to choose not to appeal) is $99 (ninety-nine dollars).


Meditation with TheMeditationMan.com

Susie and my dear friend, Lyn Shaw, invited us to go with her to the three-times-weekly silent mediation group at Starr Mill on Beverly Heights in Middletown.  Susie declined, as the idea of total silence for an hour is not her idea of a good time, but I quickly accepted, despite the fact I love to talk and have an audience.  Believe it or not, I also like silence.

The meditation group meets in the Starr Mill, an old brick industrial building on the banks of the Coginchaug River, right next to a dam which used to furnish hydroelectric power to whatever were the business establishments then located in the mill.  The Vinci Family of Middletown has owned the building for years and now leases to a photographer, a high-end book publisher, a hair salon, and a yoga studio.

Bob Vinci is in his mid-seventies and is also known as The Meditaion Man, hence his web address.  He's been interested in mediation and Bhuddism for many years.  In the meditation room, on the ground floor, a window is left open a crack to let in the soothing sound of the continuously-flowing dam.  Bob provides bottled water and, now, Halloween candy, to anyone who wants them.

The hour goes quickly when your eyes are closed and you're focusing on your breathing and your innner world of fantasy, memory, and tranquility or un-tranquiltity if that is your presnet dominant emotion.  At the end of one hour, precisely, Gary gets up and softly hits a gong three times to let everyone know the hour-point has been reached.  Then there is time to come back to the here-and-now and engage in a bit of small talk with the other meditators.

Summary

Life is good.  I continue to enjoy retirement thoroughly.  I dance in the clubs four nights a week.  Below are a few photos I've recently come across from the clubs.  It's great exercise and a lot fun.

Hope you're all enjoying your lives.

All best,

Bob Dutcher

Miscellaneous Dancing Pictures











Friday, November 11, 2011

Update on Susie’s Medical Treatment--The Long Road Back

Because an Anonymous Comment this morning asked me for an update on Susie’s condition, I’m going to give one here on “Bob’s blog.”  The reason I haven’t done so regularly is that Susie has indicated she prefers to give updates on her medical treatment in her own way.  Of course, she doesn’t write a blog, so many of those of you who are concerned about her don’t hear what’s going on with Susie if you’re not on her email list.  The information you hear about her from other people may not be entirely accurate or complete.

Neck surgery and aftermath


As you may recall, Susie had delicate and potentially risky surgery on her neck last summer.  I’ve written about that frightening (to us) day on “Bobs blog.”  That short story (I mean short as it applies to story-length treatments of an event; there are readers of “Bobs blog” who think much of my writing is too long) was called “The Surgery: God's Work and The Surgeon's Hands,” and can be found at the following link:

C diff(icile) infection and recovery


Susie then developed a very dangerous C. diff(icile) infection, which she recovered from.  I wrote about that in a post called “Susie has C. diff, a potentially Life-Threatening Infection --- or, Stayin' in the Hospital's Not for Sissies,” which can be found at this link:

One of my children was upset that I called the infection “potentially Life-Threatening,” but as I explained to that child, C. diff(icile) IS a dangerous bodily invader and takes a lot of victims each year who have the bad fortune to get it.  Fortunately, Susie gets excellent medical care and takes care of herself, so her body successfully fought off the invader.

Shoulder pain from cervical collar


Susie no longer has to wear a cervical collar, so her shoulders are less painful, but she still goes to physical therapy to reduce the shoulder pain she still experiences from having worn that uncomfortable hard neck collar for so many months.

Hand surgery on left thumb is required

Her hand surgeon, Dr. Linburg, one of the, if not THE, best hand surgeons in Connecticut recently told Susie that the tendon in her left thumb has not re-attached itself since the accident.  Without surgical repair, her thumb would forever remain unstable with lateral (side-to-side) movement.  She needs to have a surgery to hopefully pull the damaged tendon back in place and tack it down with a surgical screw.  If the tendon is too badly retracted and cannot be pulled back in place, Dr. Linburg will have to remove part of the tendon which runs laterally across her left wrist and use that to extend the damaged tendon and replace the function of the thumb tendon which God knit together in her mother’s womb along with all the other organs of her body.

Susie plans to have that surgery sometime before the end of the year.  After surgery, she’ll have to be in a wrist brace for 6 weeks.  The brace will leave her fingers exposed but completely cover her left thumb.  She won’t be able to shower or otherwise get it wet for two weeks.

Gallbladder and hernia surgery


The heavy pain medications which Susie had to take for her broken neck and the aftermath of her neck surgery activated her previously a-symptomatic gallstones.  When blood tests revealed a compromised liver, Susie’s doctors were recommending an immediate removal of gallbladder. 

Susie also got a small hernia in her abdomen from the bicycle accident.  That needs to be repaired surgically.

Dr. Bill Longo, a general surgeon in Middletown whom we’ve known for many years, has been following Susie’s gallbladder and hernia issues.  Recently she discussed with Dr. Longo if she could delay getting her gallbladder removed because she also needs her thumb operated on and, as I’ll discuss below, also will probably need to have brain surgery. 

Susie has noticed that her gallbladder pain has diminished, although it still acts up occasionally.  Based on that clinical fact, Dr. Longo says he is comfortable with Susie delaying the gallbladder surgery until a future date.  As long as she carefully monitors her symptoms and IMMEDIATELY calls his office to see him if she experiences pain in that part of her body, the surgery can be postponed.  The limiting factor is this.  If the gallbladder is removed when it is not actively symptomatic, it’s a lot easier for the patient to recover without adverse effects.  On the other hand, if it’s removed when it’s active, there is a much greater chance of bad complications.

Brain surgery to remove the menginoma


One “good” thing to come out of Susie’s bicycle accident was the discovery of the probably benign brain lesion called a menginoma.  This was discovered by MRI examination following the accident, when the doctors wanted to find out the effect of the trauma on her brain.

Here’s a link to a Mayo Clinic article about menginomas if you want to know more about them:
                   http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meningioma/DS00901

Dr. Paul J. Schwartz, Susie’s neurosurgeon, performed her neck surgery and is also following her for the menginoma.  I wrote about him in a short story on “Bobs blog” called “The Surgeon.”  Here’s that link:
                   http://wwwbobs-blog.blogspot.com/2011/08/surgeon.html

In “The Surgeon” I detail how I went from being skeptical and distrustful of Dr. Schwartz, before I met him, to believing and trusting in his expertise and motivation once I met him and interacted with him.  I call such experiences “a visual credit check.”

Dr. Schwartz met with Susie the other day.  He compared her brain MRI of last summer with the one taken this week.  While the radiologist saw no change, he told Susie he believes it has changed slightly and needs to be removed now.  His concern about Susie waiting a year or so is this.  What if it continues to grow and becomes symptomatic by pressing against normal brain cells and disturbing some function of Susie’s brain and mind?  At that point, the damage could not be reversed. 

He also thinks he’ll be able easily to remove it.  “Easy,” of course, is relative to one’s experience of the event to which the term is applied.  My initial reaction to the idea of brain surgery is not something I’d apply the term “easy” to.  But Dr. Schwartz has done lots of these menginoma-removal surgeries.  He’s comfortable with the idea of peeling back the top part of her face, from the scalp down the forehead to just around her eyebrows. Then he proposes to cut out a section of her skull and enter her brain through that window.  The menginoma lies in the arachnoid layer of the three-part lining between the inside of the skull and the outside of the brain.  Then he would remove the growth and send it to the lab for pathological analysis, to make sure it’s not cancerous.

As you can imagine, there are all kinds of potential risks when Man enters Brain.  But also there are all kinds of potential risks when the brain surgery is postponed out of fear.

Summary


I give thanks every day to God, Mother Nature, Lady Luck, and just plain Bona Fortuna for saving Susie’s life in the bicycle accident and not leaving her a paraplegic, quadraplegic, or a persistent vegetative state.  That said, it’s not an easy time for her, even now.  She has at least three more surgeries to “look forward” to and lots of painful recuperation. 

She also has to deal with the changes I’m making in my personality and life.  I’m still working—with the emphasis on working—on shutting off my “need” to find humor in every situation, when I’m out with her.  I’m confident I’ll eventually strike a balance we both can live with.

I hope Susie and you will forgive me if I’ve gotten anything wrong about her ongoing efforts to regain the life she lost when her bicycle hit that depression in the road on July 2, 2011.  It’s been a long road to this point, and we still haven’t reached that light at the end of the tunnel.  We know the light’s out there, somewhere.  However, it’s sometimes a discouraging process to be living in the here-and-now with no assurance, beyond faith, that Susie’s going to make it back to where she was on July 1, 2011, the day before the accident changed her—and our--life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Photos from the Titanium Dance Club from last Thursday night, November 3, 2011

Some of our "Bobs blog" readers complain my posts are too long.  So, for a break, here are four photos from last Thursday night's party at the Titanium Dance Club on Main Street in Middletown.  It's in the old Camp's Men's Clothing Store, on the east side of Main Street, between Court and Washington Streets.  At the front of the balcony, when it used to be the men's clothing store, there used to be a large clock.  About a hundred years ago, the former owner of the store, one of the Camp family, hanged himself from the clock.  His body was swinging from a noose when the employees opened the store in the morning.

It's great that now a dance club fills the old men's clothing store, and there are lots of women as well as men who patronize the place and, I should think, exorcise the ghost of Mr. Camp and his suicidal demons.

Okay, here are the three photos.

First is yours truly doin' some dance moves with a guy named Brian Simmons.  Notice I'm holding a cup of plain water with ice, which is my drink of choice when I dance, to avoid excessive dehydration.


Next is a shot taken from the balcony of the downstairs dance floor.  Over on the right side can be seen a young guy named Jesse, in a green sweater talkin' to the Crazy Dancin' Dude, yours truly, again in my red flannel shirt.  Jesse always gets a kick out of the very fact I'm in the dance clubs at all as well as how much fun I obviously have, being there and all.


Finally, I've included a picture of four Wesleyan students who were there that night.  One of them, the third woman from the left, is Erika Hubbard.  I met her at the Students of Color dinner last Saturday night during Wesleyan's Homecoming Weekend. She came over to me to tell me she recognized me from last Thursday night at the Titanium Club.  



Okay, so that's a mercifully short "Bobs blog," written specifically for those who prefer shorter stories.  Next blob post I'll probably return to my more prolix format. Who knows?  Only time will tell.

If these photos stir up anything in you, anything at all, I invite you to add a Comment at the end of this blog post.  Don't hold back, even if what you feel is critical of my lifestyle or otherwise judgmental.  It's all good and I'm interested in all of it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why are shape shifting soldiers from another universe stealing frozen heads?

I carry my digital camera around town wherever I go just to make sure I don't miss any really great scenes.  Remember my blog post about buying that young guy $5.31 of rope at Cash True Value so he could fix his car's rusty bumper which fell off when I rear-ended him?  Luckily, I had the camera in the car and was able to take some pictures of the guy tying up the bumper or nobody would have believed me.  Here's the link to the post and the pictures:  http://wwwbobs-blog.blogspot.com/2011/09/rear-ender-accident-with-539-property.html

Well this morning, on the way over to the cardiologist's office for an echo-cardiogram to determine if I, as a retired/retarded trial lawyer, actually have a heart, I stopped at Russell Library to pick up a Doo-Wop Volume III 4-CD album to listen to on my I-pod.  In the parking lot next to First Church, my former white church, I spotted this really cool question in white letters on the rear side window of a black BMW:


So what's the answer, dear readers?  Please leave a Comment, below, if you have any funny, interesting, or even serious answers to the question.

Another statement on the rear window of the same car is also very cool.  Here it is:


That little piece of wisdom about sums up all the main reasons I retired from my law practice back in March of this year.  And it also explains why I've been doing some of the crazy things I write about on "Bobs blog."

So, I hope these wise questions and remarks, tattooed on that BMW, provoke your minds in some unexpected directions.  If so, please share your thoughts and reactions in a Comment, below.  It's really quite easy to do.

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Acts of God"--On the Virtues of Living Without Electric Power after the late-October Snowstorm--For Up To A Week in Connecticut but Every Night of the Year in North Korea

After Hurrican Irene left the East Coast powerless for a few days, I wrote about the benefits of living without electric power.  Here's a link to that blog post--  http://wwwbobs-blog.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html

I won't repeat those observations except to say I'm happy about the power outage following the recent snowstorm.  I've learned a few new things.

Americans are a very privileged lot.  We take our easy way of life for granted.  When an Act of God (as we lawyers classify a Fall snowstorm) turns out the lights for a few days, we bitch and moan, complain about the injustice of it all, and demand investigations of the power company and its executives for allowing our electric power to go off briefly.  

Don't get me wrong.  I don't like utility companies any more than the next guy.  The chief executive is a spoiled brat who gets paid too much money for doing too little to keep the power grid in service when Mother Nature interrupts the energy transmission system.  It seems he made decisions to cut back on staff lines-people employees when the sun was shining, the winds not blowing, and the snow not falling, in part, I surmise, to improve the utility's bottom line and increase the salary and benefits he takes from the company.

But think of it.  North Koreans live every day of their lives without sufficient electricity and a very severe lack of food.  This is all detailed in Barbara  Demick's book "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives In North Korea." A Publisher's Weekly review notes that Demick points out that:

        "....ordinary life in North Korea by the 1990s became a parade of horrors, where famine killed millions, manufacturing and trade virtually ceased, salaries went unpaid, medical care failed, and people became accustomed to stepping over dead bodies lying in the streets. Her terrifying depiction of North Korea from the night sky, where the entire area is blacked out from failure of the electrical grid, contrasts vividly with the propaganda on the ground below urging the country's worker-citizens to believe that they are the envy of the world."

A reviewer in the Kirkus Review notes that "[Demick] paints a stark, vivid picture of reality in an industrial city with no electricity and almost no industry, where workers no longer get paid, men are conscripted into military service for ten years, gras, bark and corn husks are considered fod, and death by starvation is all too common."

Americans tend not to pay attention to what's happening in the rest of the world.  If they did, they would probably gain a healthier perspective on their own existential condition which is, frankly, pampered, plush, and privileged.  We ordinary, middle-class Americans live lives which would probably be the envy of the kings and queens of history, the ones who lived in cold, damp, and drafty stone castles, with poor health care and poor nutrition.  

It is now day 6 that Susie and I have been without electric power in our house.  The temperature in the house is in the 40's during the day and lower during the night.  We have no hot water.  Susie's been taking showers at the YMCA, while I go to Middletown High School, where the city has set up a shelter in the high school gymnasium, with cots for people to sleep on.  I've taken showers the past few days in the boys' shower room.  

As I walked through the gymnasium the other day, there were hundreds of people lying on cots, mostly old people, taking advantage of the warmth from the heat supplied by generators at the school.  I stopped on my way out to talk with a few of them and some Wesleyan students who were volunteering to help keep people comfortable in the shelter.

On Sunday night, the first full day without electricity, there was no electric power throughout the entire city of Middletown.  No traffic lights, no street lights, no stores open.  I drove up to Cromwell, to the commercial strip on Route 372, to find a fast food place to get coffee.  On the way there, driving through the darkened Middletown streets, drivers weren't being considerate of each other.  At four-way intersections, rather than taking turns as if it were a four-way stop, people were barging through the intersection.  Drivers were laying on their car horns in irritation, frustration, and anger.

This reminded me of scenes from Cormac McCarthy's novel "The Road," about a post-nuclear apocalyptic society.  Lawless, rootless, amoral, survival of the fittest mentality.  At the Cromwell Mcdonalds it was an hour wait to get a cup of coffee.  They'd run out of cream by the time I got there.  I wanted to check my email and Bobs blog on Susie's laptop but they have no wall plugs at that old Mcdonalds, so I went first to a Wendy's next door, also without plugs, and finally landed at the Route 372 Dunkin' Donuts where there were plugs, but nobody had brought power strips, so plug space was extremely limited.

At one point a woman entered the store and demanded that I remove my plug, which was re-charging my cell-phone, so she could plug in her laptop.  I told her I'd waited an hour to get the plug and needed at least one phone for my wife and me to maintain contact with the outside world.  I told her Susie broke her neck in July and I wanted to be able to call for emergency help if necessary.  The woman yelled at me, "You're an asshole."  Stunned, I just told her I thought she could wait a while to check her email.  She walked away, muttering something inaudible.


As the days passed, I was able to move to a more modern Dunkin Donuts on Route 3 in Cromwell, where I met some wonderful people I never would have met had the electricity not gone out from the snowstorm.  And finally, by Wednesday I was able to move back to a modern Dunkin Donuts in Middletown, near our house, where I met some more interesting people.


Susie says she's learned from the newspaper that we may get our power back sometime tomorrow, Saturday, a week following the fateful snowstorm event, the Act of God.  I will be more comfortable when the power returns, but not necessarily happier.  I'm writing this blog post from the Route 66 Mcdonalds in Middletown, where I've been buying my coffee ever since Hurricane Irene, the next most recent Act of God, shut off the power.  And I've made some wonderful friends on the staff and among the customers here.  I don't plan to go back to making  my own coffee, probably ever again, in my own little island home.  


I don't like a lot of the tortured verbiage which lawyers have devised over the centuries to describe and try to control human events and legal relationships.  But one expression I do love: Act of God.


Hurricane Irene and Snowstorm Nameless were Acts of a Loving and Gracious God, a Wise God, a God who knows that his creations, us humans, take our lives and our routines and our comforts for granted.  It's only when we lose something that we truly value it.  At least I can safely say that about myself, if not about you.


Praise God for the loss of electric power.  And praise God for the personal power He doles out each day to those of us he graces with another day of New Life.  God got me, and you, up this morning.  I plan to make the most of this day and I hope you will, too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

THE CRIMINAL TRIAL (set for November 29, 2011) in the Strange Case of "The KKK (Koji Komedy Klub) vs. Robert P. Dutcher (Krazy Komic)"--Simple Trespass Infraction

I wrote about the kontroversy at the KKK (Koji Komedy Klub) in my blog post of October 22, 2011.  Here's that link to bring you up-to-date on what happened.  http://wwwbobs-blog.blogspot.com/2011/10/second-near-miss-with-arrest-this-time_22.html

The original criminal charge of First Degree Criminal Trespass carries a jail sentence of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.  For a man who values his freedom (your faithful correspondent) and currently has no positive cash flow from a job, these are not appealing penalties, especially for a crime I did not commit.  But this is America, The Land of the Free and the Brave, of Due Process, The First Amendment, and the right of black comedians to use talk about "n's" who should be lynched, and other young comics to tell degrading "funny" stories about oral and anal sex, penis sizes, and jews who should be incinerated and put in car ash trays.  And it's also a country where Krazy Old Komics like yours truly should be free to tell audiences who hear those other comics that the "jokes" of the other comics are offensive and degrading to blacks and jews and women.  But the Kommanders and Kommandants of the Koji Komedy Klub (KKK) would prefer to see Krazy Old Komics like yours truly thrown in jail and throw away the key.

One of the 6  police officers who responded to the complaint of an unidentified individual at the KKK gave yours truly a "Misdemeanor Summons and Complaint" charging that "The undersigned officer complains that: On 10/17/11 at 23:44 in New Haven, Dutcher, Robert, did commit the following MISDEMEANORS/VIOLATION(S), 1. Trespass 1, STAT.ORD. NO. 53a-107, Bond Amount--PTA (Promise to Appear), Signature Officer [illegible name], Shield No. 45, New Haven Police Department."  The ticket goes on to say, "COURT APPEARANCE IS REQUIRED ON: 10/28/11 AT (Time) 0900 AM, Address of Court: 121 Elm Street, New Haven."

The commanding officer was a tall (over 6 feet) black man with very cool black rimmed plastic glasses with smoky gray lenses.  At first, he was very gruff and told me I could not ask him any questions, so I remained silent.  Unfortunately, my Komedy Komrade, Elijah Sanchez, was asking one of the officers why 6 uniformed police officers had seen fit to come to the Koji Komedy Klub to arrest us.  "Aren't there much more serious problems in New Haven than two comics whom somebody at the KKK doesn't like?," Elijah asked?  With that, he was unceremoniously forced into the back of one of the idling squad cars and taken to the New Haven Police Station.

I knew it did not pay to say anything which might upset the officers, despite the fact the First Amendment has never been interpreted as permitting the police to take someone into physical custody for asking a police officer a question about the allocation of police resources, as Elijah did in a polite and respectful way.  I could tell that one of the white officers was a bit hyper.  When I started to ask him a question about why we were being thrown out of the KKK, he told me to stop talking, so I did.  I saw nothing to be gained from saying or doing anything which the officers might interpret as challenging their authority or manhood or whatever else was going on in their minds at the moment.

Once Elijah was taken away in the squad car, the situation calmed down and the black commanding cop said I could now ask him a question.  So I asked him if he could tell me what the hidden meaning was in the red tee shirt with black lettering I was wearing.  It was a WESCREW tee shirt which I bought at the Head of the Connecticut River Regatta on Sunday, the day before my arrest at the KKK.  He didn't see it right away, so I alternated putting my left fingers and hand over the SCREW and my right fingers and hand over the WE.  This little maneuver succeeded quickly in enabling him to see the hidden message.  He smiled broadly, as though involuntarily, looked me in the eyes through his really cool gray lenses, and said to one of the other officers, "He's a comic.  Just give him the ticket and let 'im go."

I also then summoned the courage to ask him if I didn't have a right to speak out against the use of the "n" word by the black comics.  He told me to take that up with my lawyer.  I said I AM my lawyer and he said, "That's right, you are a lawyer.  Okay, so take it up with the Liquor Control Commission or whoever.  Look, we're here to respond to a complaint that you wouldn't leave the restaurant.  If you want to sue us, the police, go right ahead.  That's your right."  I told him in no uncertain terms I had no interest in suing the police.  The police protect me as well as everybody else.  "You're just doing your job.  Somebody wrongfully called you and claimed I was trespassing, which I was not, and I realize it's not your job to decide who's right and who's wrong in this situation.  I'm sure if I felt I needed your help, you'd help me as you'd help anyone else who claimed to need your help."

I also asked him who this man was who told me I was obnoxious and apparently called the police but had refused to tell me who he was or what his relationship was to the Koji bar and restaurant.  I told the officer I had asked the man his name and who were the backer and permittee of the Koji, but he'd refused to answer me.  I know from my law practice that the backer and permitee of a bar are the legal representatives of the owner.  The black commanding cop told me, "Oh, he IS the permittee.  His name is right over the front door. Look."  And then I saw, on a small sign above the front door, the name, "Trun Tran."  It would have nice of him to have told me that when I asked him inside the bar while we were waiting for the police to arrive.

I was finally released by the police to go home at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.  In my car I got a text message from Elijah, which said, "I'm in back. What if he rapes me?"  I replied, "Stop arguing.  They are good cops."  I did not hear from Elijah again until the next morning, after he was released from the police station. He told me he did not get assaulted by the cops and was put in a cell for the night with a homeless man who was drunk but very nice to Elijah.

In the next few days, I did some legal research at the Middlesex County Courthouse library in Middletown.  I looked into the elements of the criminal offense of Criminal Trespass in the First Degree and realized quickly that I did not commit that or any other crime.  My arrest was a malicious prosecution by the KKK.

I also determined that I probably have a right under Federal and State law to go to the KKK, be served food and beverages there, and perform my comedy routine, including, if I choose, to criticize the other comics for telling jokes degrading to blacks, women, and jews.  Those comics arguably are violating the civil rights of black people who would object to their calling black people by the "n" word, although I would not make such a legal complaint myself.  Although I believe the law gives me a right to criticize such "humor," I would not choose to try to stop them from doing such routines.  I just want the right to do my clean (attempts at) humor and I will not try to stop them from doing their brand of humor.  Live and let live is my philosophy here.

Armed with a deeper understanding of the legal context of the situation, I appeared in New Haven Superior Court last Friday, October 28, 2011.  This is the old New Haven courthouse, on Elm Street, on the north side of the New Haven Green.  The building is a very old white marble structure with gigantic columns along the Elm Street and Orange Street sides of the courthouse.  It's an imposing structure, and beautiful and charming compared with the Redevelopment Monster on Orange Street which is an ugly concrete structure.  The concrete courthouse is a more efficient building, but most unattractive aesthetically.

My costume as a retired lawyer with long hair (about the length of The Dude in "The Big Lebowski," starring Jeff Bridges as The Dude) and a gray beard, and not wearing a business suit, is blue jeans, a Red Sox hoodie, and, underneath, the WESCREW tee shirt.  This enabled me to experience the criminal arraignment courtroom on the first floor as every member of the public does, 5 days a week, 51 weeks a year (the court closes down during the week between Christmas and New Years).  I realized that The Public is treated respectfully but with a bit of sneering disdain by the court system staff.

I waited in line, like everybody else, to see the prosecutor to discuss my case.  Lawyers in suits and close-cropped hair (with few exceptions) are allowed to cut in front of everybody else.  I could have done so, since I AM a lawyer, but I don't think that behavior would have been well-received by the court marshals, given my hippie-like appearance.

The prosecutor was surprised I planned to exercise my right to have my case heard by a jury.  I didn't tell him I was a lawyer.  He offered to reduce the charge (this is what plea bargaining is) from a crime to a mere infraction, Simple Trespass, if I agreed to plead guilty and pay a $50 fine.  I refused.  I told him I wanted to see the police report and statements of witnesses to prepare for trial.  He told me I'd have to take that up with Judge Licari when I appeared before the judge shortly. I said fine.

When my case was called, I went up to the podium and identified myself to Judge Licari as "Attorney Bob Dutcher, from Middletown, retired and now doing stand-up comedy and other things.  I mean, I'm not doing stand-up right at this moment, but I do do that.  I remember you, Judge Licari, from years ago when you sat in Middlesex Superior Court in Middletown, on Short Calendar, in the old courthouse building."  He smiled and the prosecutor then said, "Your honor, I'm going to substitute an Information charging Mr. Dutcher with the Infraction of Simple Trespass, for which he does not have the right to a jury trial, but, instead, will be tried before a magistrate."  [After looking at the statute and practice book rules on trials of infraction charges, I determined that the prosecutor was wrong about a magistrate trial.  For this charge, a trial to a Superior Court judge is required.  Sure enough, when the notice arrived in the mail from the criminal court clerk, I learned that the case had been set down for a "court"--meaning judge, not magistrate--trial.] That was essentially what he had offered to do when we talked earlier, before court, but at that time I would have had to plead guilty and pay a fine.  Now I was able to plead not guilty, which I did, and go to trial, which I will.

Elijah Sanchez had talked with the prosecutor after I had, before court, and agreed to plead guilty and pay the fine, to get rid of the case and the tension associated with having to think about it, prepare for trial, and go to trial.  I told him to do what he felt best.  However, when he saw what happened in my case, where the prosecutor reduced the charge to an infraction from a crime, he informed the judge that he wished to reject the offer to plead guilty to the infraction and pay a fine.

I have now learned from the criminal clerk's staff that the trial before the magistrate, who will be a lawyer who hears very minor cases, will be held on Tuesday, November 29, 2011.  The trial will take place in Courtroom E on the third floor of the courthouse at 121 Elm Street, New Haven.

I have left a voice mail for the prosecutor, and faxed him a letter, requesting the police report and statements of witnesses.  I need these documents to prepare for trial.  If any of you wish to observe the trial, please feel free to show up on November 29th.  I take this case seriously and realize that the outcome is always uncertain, no matter how well you think you've analyzed the case.  As many of you will probably Comment to me following this blog post, I probably have a fool for a client, since I'm representing myself in a criminal prosecution.  While foolish, I hope I'm also successful.

I'll keep you posted on all important developments in this case.