Friday, December 26, 2008

"Crime Is Not On Their Side"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

In the criminal justice system, there are two separate but equally important groups: the attorneys, who prosecute or defend people accused of crimes, and the crooks themselves, some of whom are really stupid. These are their stories.

I got them from Michael D. O’Donohoe, commissioner of jurors in Suffolk County, N.Y., where I live. I met O’Donohoe in his office a few weeks ago to find out why I wasn’t selected to be on a case after receiving a summons for jury duty. After regaling me with funny juror stories, O’Donohoe said that if I wanted to make another appointment, he would tell me about some of the dimwits who have gone to court in Suffolk County.

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I recently went back to see O’Donohoe for a follow-up. All of his stories are true. The names have not been used to protect the guilty.

"My favorite story involved a guy who was on trial for attempted murder," O’Donohoe told me. "The detective on the case was called to the stand and the prosecutor asked him what happened. The detective said the victim appeared to have been shot three times. The defendant, who had pleaded not guilty, turned to his attorney and, in a loud voice, said, ‘He’s lying. I only shot the guy twice.’ The attorney said, ‘Will you shut up!’ But it was too late. His client was convicted."

What did the defendant in, aside from blatant stupidity, O’Donohoe said, was that he actually did shoot the victim twice, but because of an exit wound, there were three bullet holes.

"I think the defendant had a hole in his head," O’Donohoe said.

So, apparently, did the guy who stole a car so he wouldn’t be late for court on a charge of grand auto theft.

"He pulled into the courthouse parking lot with a stolen vehicle," O’Donohoe recalled. "A check was run on the plates and it showed that the car had been reported stolen. Now this guy had stolen the car a couple of days earlier. If he had stolen it a couple of hours before he was due in court, it wouldn’t have shown up on the report yet. So when he went in front of the judge on a charge of grand auto theft, for another car he had stolen, the judge asked him why he had stolen this one. The guy said, ‘I didn’t want to be late for court.’ He was taken away in handcuffs." O’Donohoe chuckled and added, "You can’t make this stuff up."

Another strange but true case involved a thief who ought to consider another line of work.

"This guy was charged with petty larceny," O’Donohoe said. "The assistant district attorney saw the police report and asked him why he stole the merchandise. Instead of saying he was needy or it was for his family or something like that, the guy said, ‘I always steal things because I never get caught.’ He wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer."

Neither was the idiot who tried to pay his bail with the money he had used to bail himself out a couple of days earlier.

"I was down in arraignments when this guy was brought before a judge," O’Donohoe remembered. "He didn’t have an attorney, so he was assigned one. The guy was charged with disorderly conduct, I think, and his attorney pleaded not guilty for him. The judge set bail at $250. Then the guy turned to his attorney and whispered something. The attorney told the judge that his client had already paid the $250. The judge said it was impossible since he had just set bail a moment ago. The attorney said his client wanted to know if he could use the $250 he paid for his bail two days before on another charge. The judge said, ‘No, you can’t use old bail money,’ and then doubled the guy’s bail to $500, which of course he couldn’t pay, so he went to jail."

O’Donohoe said that while criminal stupidity certainly isn’t limited to Suffolk County, he has enough crazy stories for a TV show.

"If the producers of ‘Law & Order’ want some funny storylines," O’Donohoe said, "they ought to come here."

Copyright 2008 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Christmas Letter 2008"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

Since I am in the holiday spirit (and, having just consumed a mug of hot toddy, a glass of eggnog and a nip of cheer, the holiday spirits are in me), I have once again decided to follow in that great tradition of boring everyone silly by writing a Christmas letter.

That is why I am pleased as punch (which I also drank) to present the following chronicle of the Zezima family, which includes Jerry, the patriarch; Sue, the matriarch; Katie and Lauren, the childriarchs; and Katie’s husband, Dave, the son-in-lawiarch. Happy reading!

Dear friend(s):

It sure has been an exciting 2008 for the Zezimas! The highlight of the year was Jerry and Sue’s 30th wedding anniversary, which the happy couple celebrated with a trip to Barbados, their first vacation alone, to a place with postcards and palm trees, since their honeymoon in Hawaii. Jerry almost ensured that there wouldn’t be a 31st anniversary when he took a surfing lesson. Instead of "hanging 10," he couldn’t even hang one. In fact, he almost hanged himself on the tether that connected his foot to the surfboard, which caught a wave on its own and hit him in the head. Naturally, Jerry wasn’t hurt, but he was washed up.

Still, it was a memorable week that would have been even more memorable if it weren’t for all those tropical drinks. A candlelight dinner on the beach, only a few yards from Jerry’s surfing misadventure, brought the trip to a romantic (and, in Jerry’s case, gluttonous) conclusion.

Speaking of anniversaries, Jerry and Sue marked 10 years in their dream house, which gave Jerry nightmares when he tried to power wash it. Unfortunately, the rented power washer didn’t work, so Jerry had to return the stupid contraption, go back home, get a scrub brush and do the two-story Colonial by hand. It took three days. When he had finally finished, Jerry was cleaner than the house.

At least a tree didn’t fall on it, which is what happened to the house next door when a large oak in Jerry and Sue’s yard collapsed and landed on their neighbors’ garage. Nobody was hurt, thank God, who was to blame for the incident. But since God can’t be sued, insurance covered the damage.

Because Jerry took a vow of poverty when he went into journalism, the money got him thinking about a different career path, so he tried his hand at other jobs, including modeling. Yes, he was the model at a women’s jewelry show that was hosted by his sister Susan. The ladies who lunch loved Jerry, who is out to lunch, which may explain why he also was an apprentice dog groomer. He took the family pooch, Lizzie, for a day of beauty and ended up watching the fur fly when he assisted in giving her the royal treatment.

Speaking of Lizzie, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (or, in sports terms, ACL) when she jumped out of the car at Jerry’s parents’ house right after Labor Day. At first the vet thought Lizzie would need surgery, but she has recovered nicely and is back in playing shape, which is more than can be said for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who tore his ACL around the same time and is out for the season. Wimp.

Jerry also was a barista for a day at the Starbucks store Lauren used to manage. Although Jerry’s coffee wasn’t bad enough to run the company into the grounds, Lauren subsequently got a new job with Apple. She also got a new car. Jerry, of course, got roped into being the co-signer.

Getting back to dogs and injuries, Lauren tore the tendons in her foot when her dog, Maggie, pulled her down the stairs outside her apartment. The mishap put Lauren on crutches and prevented her from attending the wedding of a family friend on Cape Cod. Lauren now thinks Maggie should go to obedience school.

Katie and Dave celebrated their second anniversary by going out to dinner. Over the summer, Katie’s bike was stolen by some idiot who left behind her helmet, probably because it wouldn’t do much good anyhow. In September, Katie ran in a 210-mile relay race, after which she knew the thrill of victory and the agony of the feet. Dave, being a good husband, provided moral support and, more important, beer.

Last but certainly least, Jerry got braces. You really can’t see them, so he won’t be the star of a TV show called "Ugly Jerry," but with the way things are going, the story of the Zezima family will end up being a sitcom.

Well, that’s the news from here. We hope your family has also been blessed with unusual events and is in better shape than we are.

Merry Christmas with love and confusion from the Zezimas.

Copyright 2008 by Jerry Zezima