“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, Love Jill”

Open Letter to the New Bedford District Court (or: My Life as a Fugitive from Justice)

It took me a while to craft the attached letter which straddles the line between scathing and “while I’m still ripshit, I would appreciate your help on this”. For those of you who are asking me if I’m a criminal, in a word: yes. Yes I am. In fact, I am, as my mother put it, in “Super Big Trouble”. Or, as Casey put it:

Them: Show up in court!

You: I did show up in court. See? I have this paper right here that says so, and I haven’t been registered in your county in years.

Them: OMG WHY WON’T YOU SHOW UP IN COURT U WHORE.

As in, my warrant has been extended to the entire state rather than just my home town (Freetown). “I’m officially disgruntled, and until now, I was relatively gruntled.” So, if the cops come to the door, I’m not home. So I sent this letter with all the documentation to the New Bedford Courthouse, the Bristol County DA, the Office of the Jury Commissioner, and the Standard Times newspaper. It’s not the most finely written letter in the history of complaining about wrongful warranting (or whatever that’s called), but considering the caliber of “professional” in state government, it’ll be friggin Shakespeare to them. I was able to actually restrain myself from writing:
“PS: I hate you I hate you I hate you, Love Jill”

New Bedford District Court

75 N. Sixth Street

New Bedford, MA 02740

I am writing in regards to a clerical error on the part of the Massachusetts Jury Commission which has resulted in a warrant being issued for my arrest by the New Bedford Court. I have attempted to clear up this matter with the court, but have found that I am unable to do so, due to the treatment I have received at the Courthouse, as well as a serious lack of communication between the Jury Commission and the courthouses in Massachusetts.

It is my understanding that I was summoned to jury duty in Bristol County (at the New Bedford court) at some point in late 2006 or early 2007. I did not receive any of these documents, as I have not lived in Bristol County for almost five years (since December 2002). As it has been so long since I moved, the Post Office no longer forwards mail to my current address in Middlesex County. In June, 2007 I was informed by my brother, who had spoken with an Assonet, MA police officer, that there was a warrant out for my arrest due to being a non-compliant juror. I was extremely surprised to hear this, I never had any criminal record whatsoever, including misdemeanors; not even a traffic citation! I was surprised also because not only had I not lived in Bristol County for almost five years, I had served jury duty in Middlesex County (Cambridge Courthouse) on December 4, 2005. I would have thought the courthouses in Massachusetts would be able to communicate with each other in order to correct this problem, but that was not the case. I contacted the Jury Commission and I must say, the people I spoke with there were all extremely friendly and helpful. They explained there was a clerical error, in which they had two folders for the same person (me). They said they would take care of the problem on their end, but that since a warrant had been issued (with absolutely no notification to me at my legal place of residence), I would have to go to the New Bedford courthouse in order to clear up the matter. I was given to understand by the people at the Jury Commission that this would be a simple exchange of paperwork, as I have a Certificate of Trial Juror Service (attached) from the Jury Commission, documenting my service as a juror in December of 2005 in Middlesex County.

With my documentation of jury duty performed, I took a day off work, on June 8, 2007 and traveled with my mother (as she lives in Bristol County and is familiar with New Bedford), over 60 miles from my current residence to the New Bedford District Court to clear up my warrant. Leaving my mother in the car (as there is absolutely no available parking anywhere near the courthouse or in the courthouse parking lot), I entered the courthouse, expecting to simply go to the Criminal Clerk’s window and, as told by the Jury Commission, I expected to receive a piece of paper that would clear my warrant. This is not what occurred. I spoke to the Criminal Clerk and was told to go to “Probation”. I spent about a half an hour at the Probation window while a clerk looked for paperwork relating to my case, but appeared to be unable to find it. Eventually I was told to “go to the middle courtroom”. I am not familiar with the court system, and I found that every employee of the courthouse I spoke to, in attempting to find rooms, or clerk windows, was extremely rude and impatient, as if they expected me to be familiar with the criminal court system. Finally I was able to find the courtroom I was expected to appear in. I had not been told that I would actually have to appear before a judge by the Jury Commission. Please keep in mind that this is all due to a clerical error on the part of the Jury Commission. I proceeded to sit in the courtroom for two and a half hours, listening to cases involving drugs, domestic violence, and assault. During this time (when I was in fact, free to leave the courtroom if necessary), my mother, who had been waiting in the car, expecting, as I did, that I would simply be clearing up a matter of paperwork, entered the building and approached the Criminal Clerk. She asked where she could find me and was told, in an extremely rude and aggressive manner “Your daughter has a warrant out for her arrest. We are not letting her out until she is seen by a judge”. After being at the courthouse for a total of about three hours, I had no choice but to leave, as I had not anticipated that I would have to appear in court, and my father had a retirement party that evening to celebrate 35 years of teaching public school, and I obviously could not miss that event. After the judge took another of many, many recesses, I returned to the Probation window and explained my situation to the clerk. I asked if there would be any negative repercussions if I left, as I hadn’t expected to appear in court. She said I would still have a warrant, but there would be no other negative consequences. I left the courthouse, and found my mother in tears in the car, as she assumed from speaking to the Criminal Clerk, that I had been restrained in the courtroom and wouldn’t be able to leave.

I would like to briefly address my experience in the courtroom at the Bristol District Court, as it was extremely disturbing. I personally am unfamiliar with the court system, outside of jury duty I have performed. During my hours-long wait in the courtroom, I witnessed a great deal of very unprofessional conduct on the part of the court employees. There were about four people gathered around the judge’s bench, other than the judge. I believe one was a bailiff, and another a court reporter. These employees’ conduct was inexcusable. They were openly laughing at citizens whose cases were being tried in court, mocking their behavior and statements. These people were given no dignity in the court process. I believe the court system is based on the principal that one is innocent until proven guilty. While some of the people whose cases were being heard in court that day may have been guilty, I do not believe that they should be subjected to mockery and verbal abuse by the court that is supposed to impartially judge their cases. At one point, due to allergies, I coughed while waiting in the courtroom, and a bailiff said to me “cut it out or get out of the courtroom”. A couple sitting behind me were discussing during a recess if they were in the right courtroom and I heard the gentleman say “don’t ask them, if they get mad you’ll be in trouble”. I believe there is a serious problem with the court system in New Bedford, if people cannot address court employees without fear of reprisal. I myself, even though I had done nothing wrong, and had served my jury duty as required, felt a sense of fear and helplessness at being in this courtroom.

Since I was unable to get my warrant issue taken care of at the courthouse on June 8, I had to leave with an open warrant. I am both unwilling and unable to spend yet another day, of time that I have to take off from work (1/6 of my annual leave time) in order to rectify this clerical error in person in a courthouse that seems to have absolutely no respect for citizens. The day after I returned to my home in Middlesex County, I received a letter from the Jury Commission (copy attached) indicating that I was clear of the requested Jury Duty as they recognized I had served Jury Duty already in the past three years. The Jury Commission informed me on June 8, via telephone, that my case was cleared up with them, but not with the courthouse. On June 22, a letter was delivered to my parents’ residence, where I have not lived for five years, indicating that the warrant for my arrest has been extended throughout the state of Massachusetts, rather than just Assonet due to the fact that I did not appear at the court to take care of the warrant, although I did report to the court, but they apparently have no records of that event. In this letter I am informed that I may be subject to suspension of my driver’s license, suspension of public assistance, reported to out of state police, have other records about me accessed by police, suspension of state tax refunds, suspension of professional licenses and permits, as well as a $75 fee if I am arrested. This is all due to an error on the part of the Jury Commission. I have done nothing wrong, and have served jury duty. I am extremely distressed and upset about this issue. I have been unfairly criminalized by the court system.


I have attached all necessary documentation to this letter to clear my warrant. I have included copies of my Certificate of Jury Duty from when I served on December 4, 2005, as well as a copy of the postcard I received from the Jury Commission explaining that the request to have me serve Jury Duty in Bristol County has been cancelled. I would appreciate it if you would clear up this matter without me having to take yet another day off work to correct a clerical error made by the Jury Commission.

I believe my story provides strong evidence that the Delinquent Juror Prosecution Program, when coupled with a serious miscommunication and error in the Jury Commission and/or the Courthouse, can serve only to make a criminal out of a good citizen. I am seriously disillusioned with the court system due to this experience, and have no faith that the court employees in New Bedford District Court will provide me with unbiased and fair treatment, based on my experience of June 8.


Jill C Robidoux

Juror

CC: Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter,

Office of the Jury Commissioner

The Standard Times newspaper

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: