Father Bill speaks

Let's go to court, instead

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 2:30pm

The more I write, I find the more I want to say. I wrote a piece for his week on gun control. Then I wrote another one on the education system. I thought they were both pretty good, but then I considered my audience. After writing for a while and changing to another venue, it’s easy to forget that you don’t have a reader base that understands you. Lots of comments are always good for media, but if they come from a point of not understanding the writer’s position, they are not as effective as presenting a different point of view. So let’s go to court instead.

Back in the day, we could all read the court news and see people we knew. Some of us would see our own name quite often.

 I don’t watch the TV news. When I stopped watching is not very clear, but why is. When they did that feel good piece just before the sports, I got nothing from it. Overwhelmed by bad news, I couldn’t appreciate the good news. I stopped reading papers for the same reason. The online versions work for me because I can scan the headlines and read only what interests me. There is one thing that I just can’t seem to let go of. The District Court News. I don’t really know why it intrigues me so much. Part of it must be that I want to see who is misbehaving, but that doesn’t mean as much as it used to. Back in the day, we could all read the court news and see people we knew. Some of us would see our own name quite often. It was sort of a community. Nothing to be proud of, but a community, none the less. That doesn’t happen much anymore. Usually I see a last name that I recognize and try to figure out whose kid it is.

What fascinates me today about the court news is the charges more than the names of the people. The Maine Legislature makes these things illegal and when I read some of the things that people are convicted of, I wonder how that debate in the Legislature went down. Here’s a few examples from a recent court report: Disorderly conduct seems to be an umbrella for several other things that one can do that all are considered disorderly conduct. It appears that there are several areas of disorderly conduct that can get you in trouble.

Before I get into the disorderly conduct thing, let’s look at another popular court news item. How about “Negotiating a Worthless Instrument”? Who thought that charge up and how many hours of debate did it take to come up with that? Why couldn’t it be “Bum Check”? That’s what it is. “Stiffed” would be another accurate description of what happened. “Negotiating a Worthless Instrument.” What the hell does that mean? I was hoping that if everything worked out OK, I would negotiate a worthwhile instrument. As it turned out, I negotiated a worthless instrument. Bum check. Let’s just get real. The problem with getting real is that the Legislature would have to debate the changes and that would go on for who knows how long. So, accepting the fact that there are charges that people can be guilty of that make no sense to me and probably won’t change in my lifetime, here’s my take on the most recent ones in the court news.

Possession of gift moose. I think it was a $100 fine. Whatever. I have a lot of friends who look forward to the moose hunt and are very proud of their kill. Moose are big animals with lots of meat so it’s a generous gift to share some of you moosemeat with your friends. I’m not falling for that. You give me five pounds of hamburg and a few steaks and I pay a $100 fine for possession of gift moose? I don’t see that happening.

Now we go to the disorderly conduct area. It would seem to me that disorderly conduct is disorderly conduct. I know when I was doing disorderly conduct, it was very clear to everyone on both sides of the law, what it was. Now it needs to be broken down. A person was fined for disorderly conduct, loud, unreasonable noise. The noise was loud and unreasonable to someone, but probably the person making the noise thought it was just fine. Another subsection of disorderly conduct is “offensive words or gestures.” This happens to me all the time. While I usually overlook loud and unreasonable noise, offensive words and or gestures really bug me but I never thought it was a crime. I just thought it was ignorant and self centered. Maybe next time, I’ll call a cop.

I saved the best for last. Under the heading of disorderly conduct, a person was convicted and fined for “causing serious inconvenience." You can look it up in the court news. People cause serious inconvenience in my life every day. These people are everywhere. No matter what I do, there is always someone there messing things up. Again, I never realized that I could prosecute these people. I don’t know that I want to prosecute them, but I seriously want them to stop causing serious inconvenience to me. Whatever it takes.

So, if I refused a gift moose and insisted on paying by check but negotiated a worthless instrument, does that cause serious inconvenience to the person who gifted me the moose? Is it possible that this situation could lead to loud, unreasonable noise and then offensive words and gestures? How about you just keep your damn moose, and I’m unfriending you on Facebook?


 Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of BPackard.com.  He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant. 


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