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Will, he was older than dirt

Our story takes us back 30 years to 1981. Cell Phones weren't in use, computers were in the infancy stage, Houston Bail Bonds were taken to the Sheriff's Department and dropped off at a desk to be processed and the bail bondsmen in Houston would go to the basement of the Court House / Jail at 301 San Jacinto and sit and wait for an hour or two until their defendant was released and then walk them to their office to finish up the paperwork.

In comparison Houston Bail Bonds today go through a process that typically takes about 8 to 12 hours for a release, bail bondsmen in Houston rarely go to the jail and rarely make a trip to the Sheriff's Department.

This is the story about an Attorney that practiced criminal law back then; I do not know how old he was, but older than dirt comes to mind, my guess would be that he was in his late 80's. I'm going to leave his real name out of the story, so for our purposes here his name is Will.

Each morning Will would stop traffic as he slowly shuffled one foot in front of the other carrying his old worn out leather briefcase. He walked hunched over determined once again to make his way to the courthouse to defend his clients. Lawyers and courthouse personnel would greet him as he passed them and he would raise his hand in the air in a gesture of "nice to see you," never once looking up to see who was greeting him and continued on his journey.

The courtrooms were always busy with lawyers and prosecutors discussing the filing of motions, working out plea bargains, and resetting their cases, all waiting for the judge to take the bench. The bailiff would call the court to order and for a little while the talking would simmer down to a whisper and seats were taken.

A large table divided the area where the attorneys and prosecutors sat and files were stacked overlapping each other running down the length of the table on the prosecutor's side so that they could see the defendant's names and be prepared when the judge calls up the next case.

When a case was brought to trial the criminal defendant also got a seat at the table.

The audience and defendants all sit on church pews behind the barrier that divides them from the legal minds with a swinging gate on each side where a bailiff is close by to make certain those who are not invited to go beyond the pale are ushered away quickly and told to go back and have a seat and be quiet.

This particular morning, Will was running a little late (as usual). Some may have thought him to be old and senile, but not those who knew him and especially not the prosecutors who he challenged or the judges of the Harris County Criminal Court House. For Will growing old was just another tool of the trade. Senility was one he had groomed and perfected for years until it was simply understood by all that Will wasn't crazy, unless of course he needed to be.

Most of the cases had been heard and reset and their corresponding files were being gathered up to be given to the clerk so that they could be filed away until the next time they were placed on the large table for consideration, some had already been removed. A trial was getting ready to begin and the Judge wanted things wrapped up early.

Will entered the courtroom as though he owned the place (again as usual) and began picking up the prosecutor's files and scattering them across the table in disarray. There was still an attorney and a prosecutor standing in front of the judge and a plea was being made. The judge was admonishing the defendant and giving him a stern warning of future events if he ever saw the defendant in his courtroom as a criminal defendant again. This is normally a situation where order in the court is such that practically everyone in the courtroom can hear the judge speaking to the defendant.

Will was speaking loudly enough to draw attention away from everyone and everything except himself and his current plight.

"Where's the file," he says, "I can't find the file!"

The prosecutor who had previously stacked the files in meticulous fashion so that things could be wrapped up early at the judges request was reaching across the table and trying to gather the files to be put back in order, only to have one file after another tossed in this direction and that direction.

"Which file are you looking for Will?"

At this point the prosecutor is flustered and getting loud as well. Will has already made it clear that he had no intention of being quiet, and the Judge finally stops his admonishment and says, "What the ... is going on?"

Will says again, only this time to the Judge, "I can't find the file Judge"

"How am I supposed to represent my client with no file?"

The Prosecutor asks Will for the name of the defendant and Will tells him, for the sake of story telling since I do not remember her name lets call her Alice.

"Her file is already gone," says the Prosecutor, "She didn't answer the docket call and I moved for bond forfeiture."

"Bond Forfeiture!" says Will, "Bond Forfeiture!"

"How can you forfeit the girls bond?" "The file is not even here!"

The prosecutor, now getting angry with the whole discussion says, "She didn't answer the docket call, I moved for bond forfeiture and the file was given to the clerk!"

Unmoved by the Prosecutors explanation, Will once again says, "Bond Forfeiture?"

"I don't understand, her file isn't even here!"

Then Will asks, "Did you call her name?"

The prosecutor growing more and more tired of Will's ranting says, "Yes, she didn't answer the docket, her bond has been forfeited and a warrant has been issued for her arrest!"

"A warrant," says Will, "How can you issue a warrant, you don't even have her file here?"

"The file is gone Will!"

"She didn't answer the docket!"

Will, still throwing files around says, "Did you call her name 3 times?"

"Did you call her name at the courthouse door?"

The prosecutor says, "Yes Will, we called her name, and the bailiff called her name out in the hall, she isn't here!"

Still unmoved, Will asks, "Did you call her name in the restroom?" And once again says, "How can you forfeit her bond and issue a warrant for her arrest when the files not even here?"

All of this ranting back and forth takes place within a couple of minutes, and the judge who like everyone else in the courthouse who knows Will, knows that his courtroom is going to be in a state of chaos until Will has the file and says to the prosecutor, "Just give him the file please."

The prosecutor turns to the judge and says, "It's gone Judge, she was the first defendant called this morning, she's supposed to go to trial today!"

"What?" says the Judge, then he turns to Will and says, "This is your trial today?"

"Of course it's my trial," says WIll, "But we can't go to trial Judge because we don't even have the file here!"

The Judge almost to the point of becoming angry himself, says to the Prosecutor, "Go and get the file now, find it, and bring it to me!"

Then the Judge turns to Will and says, "Where's your client?"

"I don't know Judge," says Will, I can't even find her file."

The Judge, totally frustrated by the show that's taking place in his courtroom, tries another approach and tells Will that the file is being brought back so that (that) is no longer going to be a problem, but then insists that Will produce the defendant immediately.

Will says, "let me get my office on the phone Judge and see if they have heard from her, in the meantime we don't have a file, so I'm going to step out in the hallway and while I'm there I will see if someone can check the ladies room for me."

Will leaves the courtroom moving considerably slower than when he came in, but what can you say, he's an old guy.

Thirty minutes later Will miraculously steps into the courtroom with his client and announces to everyone, disrupting the court again, that his client was indeed in the restroom and he had found her and that they were prepared for trial.

The judge, the prosecutor, every attorney in the courtroom, the bailiff, and all in attendance had a sneaking suspicion that Will's client may have been running a little late for trial that morning as well, which would most certainly have ended her up in jail had she not shown up or walked in late. However, at this point the file had been retrieved and the judge was done with Will's eccentric ways and had no intention of listening to him rant on and on at even the thought that his client had been late for court.

All announced ready for trial and without further delay the ‘coup de gras' was awaiting the prosecutor.

The jury was brought in and seated, they were instructed by the judge and the prosecutor began his opening statements.

Will had settled into his chair next to his client who had been charged with prostitution. He reached into the side pocket of his old worn out brief case, and pulled out a folded up newspaper.

The prosecutor was about to start and Will gave the newspaper a brisk shake to straighten it out a bit. Then he proceeded to hold the newspaper out in front of him and carefully began to tear it along the crease until he had successfully torn it into two pieces.

Oblivious of the Judge, the Jury, and completely ignoring the prosecutor as he gave his opening statements Will began to refold a torn half of the newspaper; holding it out in front of him, and folding it once, then twice, then three times and then again and again until he had gotten it down to a pretty good small square shape and then he took off his left shoe and poked his finger through a rather large hole in the bottom of it. He placed the neatly folded newspaper over the hole and placed his foot into the shoe for a fit. Quite satisfied with his repair job he had finished remarkably at about the same time the prosecutor had finished his opening statements. The jury hadn't heard a single word the prosecutor had said mesmerized by the shoe repairs.

The end.
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