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Misadventures With The Magistrate

(Continued from here)

Special Agent Jason Trent, VA State Trooper Smurfette, and I stood in an over-lighted cubby inside the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

Mr. Trent and Potentate Magistrate, the law administrator seated behind protective laminated glass, nonchalantly carried on about work, who’d been up latest the night before/earliest that morning, and, oh, have you talked to so-and-so lately?

Uhm, hello? There’s a person -- who doesn’t care how your wives are doing -- standing in handcuffs here, waitin’ on y’all.

The BCI man, thick arms crossed casually near his waistline, monotonously recited to Potentate Magistrate the charge I was facing. He followed it up with the most damning summary possible for what led to said charge. Roughly translated: she’s practically a cop killer, sir!

Potentate Magistrate made some inquiries that, this time, were relative to why we all might be breathing the same air here in the first place. Most of the questions were directed at Mr. Trent, and even the few asked of me seemed to be directed at the Special Agent. Once, when I didn’t respond to something instantly, Mr. Trent jumped on me, saying “he’s talking to you.” I raised my eyebrows. No reason for me to answer him; you’re apparently my mouthpiece at this event. I might as well have been a tile on the excessively glossy floor.

For the majority of our being there Potentate Magistrate said very little. He fidgeted with loose paperwork, wiggled a pen between his fingers, swiveled in his chair. Wiped his nose with his arm and adjusted his shirt collar. Stared blankly at a ornamental calendar on the wall, fiddled absentmindedly with a telephone cord. It was like watching an incessantly bored, bad employee. The kind of fellow who got hired for being the son-in-law of the boss. And my fate is in the hands of this ass sperm?

Agent Trent, on the other hand, did plenty enough speaking. Including fudging on details during the dialogue. One of the things he stated about the supposed offending post on I HeArTE JADE was that the picture I’d published of Task Force Officer Joe Hatter was of him getting into his car at his place of residence. Huh? That’s not true. I wanted to get to the bottom of the prevarication. Immediately. I blurted out “he wasn’t in front of his house!”

Mr. Trent flashed a smirk, then, with wide innocent-like eyes, swore Sgt. Hatter had told him that the picture was taken of him in front of his home. Talk about confusion; at that point I didn’t know if Trent was lying to me or if Hatter had lied to him. Maybe they conspired. How could Hatter not know what where he lives looks like? “But he wasn’t in front of his house; he was in front of a store!” I retorted. Loudly, since everyone knows the truth is better when told at a higher volume. Right?

You have to understand, Mr. Trent’s assertion wouldn’t have been a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that the key component in the statute I was accused of violating has to do with the residence. I liken it to an officer trying to justify an arrest by saying the suspect held a gun to a postal worker’s head for the purpose of robbing him when, in truth, it was a camera and a paperboy for the purpose of an editorial; one is a felony, the other isn’t even a crime.

I figured I could clear the matter up, so I naively rattled off particulars about the image -- where, when, why, et cetera. A twinkle in the gaze of the suddenly suspiciously-tight-lipped Mr. Trent caused me to mentally flicker back to the brief sneering smile he’d laid on me only seconds before. I really need to stop forgetting how devious cops can be.

Off and on I’d strove to keep circulation in my still-shackled hands and though I stopped short of wailing, I’d given several hints I was aching. Somewhere in here Agent Trent mercifully removed the metal binds.

I examined the deep wraparound indentations and rapidly darkening bruises that had developed on my wrists over the ten or fifteen minutes the restraints were on. When I held my released limbs up in display, Agent Trent promptly sniped the damage wouldn’t have happened if I “hadn’t been moving around.” I never realized handcuffs aren’t designed to withstand changes in position without inflicting severe injuries.

If the state policeman’s disdainful sigh was anything to go by, I was apparently supposed to suck it up and shut up. Did he just… “Did you just roll your eyes at me?” I asked Mr. Trent. I was shocked. Does this guy seriously have that much contempt for me? The thought indisputably dismayed me.

Upset, I sought a distraction. Potentate Magistrate was, I believe, searching youtube for Steely Dan videos. My eyes fell to a paper Mr. Trent had been holding, now sitting on the counter directly in front of us. I think it was the arrest warrant. A line with a black, bold “S/A J. Trent 4097 VSP” popped out at me. 4097? Is that his badge number? Because Joe Fleming’s badge number is 4098. They’re both Virginia State Police. Both Bureau of Criminal Investigation Agents. But how is it possible their badge numbers are only one digit apart? Did they join at the same time? Start at the same place?

The curiosity was irresistible. I tapped the document with a long sparkle-covered fingernail. “Is this your badge number?” I queried. Mr. Trent scoffed “I really don’t care if you know my badge number. I’m sure you know all about me.” Actually I don’t. Does it not occur to you that if I did, I probably wouldn’t need to ask you questions like “is this your badge number?” I exhaled pensively and shook my head at the man for him finding drowning in a megalomaniacal pool of his own ignorance so satisfying.

At last Potentate Magistrate appeared to realize I was present. He asked me if I knew what the difference between an “unsecured” bond and a “secured” one was. When I let him know I did not, he proceeded to explain it. I assumed that one lets you walk out of the detention center forthwith, and one forces you to share a cell with Lucy Larceny et al until you miraculously procure the appropriate funds for freedom.

When I was told that my bail amount would be $7500.00, I about fainted. Seventy-five hundred dollars! That’s ridiculous! When I learned I would definitely be caged ‘til I came up with the sum, I went numb.

I turned to Agent Trent in disbelief. Ohmigod. He looks as stunned as I am. In that split second I thought for sure he had not expected me to actually be locked up. But then everything he’d ever said to and about me came roaring through my brain like a helicopter on fire and my mind changed. No. He’s not surprised. He knew this would happen.

I was informed by Potentate Magistrate that he’d decided the two things because I’d shown no remorse. No… remorse? What the what? How exactly is someone supposed to show remorse for something she didn’t do?! I was abysmally incredulous.

Potentate Magistrate, in essence, not only convicted but sentenced me, too, on nothing more than the words of a single biased officer. My lack of unlawful history? Irrelevant. That it was a non-violent crime alleged? Didn’t matter. View the website in question? Not even a peek at it. Innocent until proven guilty? Ha!

I am profoundly grateful the despicable man lacked the authority to order the death penalty. I’ve heard there are no computers in Hell.

(Continued here)