Tales from the peanut gallery

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The following was gleaned during 14 years of covering Slave Lake Provincial Court.

He was middle aged, unshaven and looked as if he’d had a rough life. Charged with drunken driving, and possessing a record, it seemed the fellow was looking at jail time.
The circumstances were appalling. He had been driving down Hwy. 2 at about eight in the morning, the Crown Prosecutor said.
Not only was he drunk and driving unsteadily, but some attachment to the camper on the back of his pickup had become partially unattached, and was swinging out into the other lane as he travelled.
He apparently was completely unaware of it.
Having pleaded guilty, the remarks of the defense counsel were not critical to the man’s case, so his lawyer gave the usual spiel intended to make him seem like a reasonable fellow who had a lapse of judgment. Then, as is also usual, the judge asked Mr. ‘X’ if he wanted to say anything before receiving his sentence. As it turned out, he should have kept his mouth shut.
“Well, your honour, I wasn’t so much drunk as asleep.”
Hearing this, the lawyer started making frantic gestures to get him to shut up. He wanted to carry on, but the judge didn’t want to hear any more either. His honour quickly moved on to sentencing. As is his particular habit, the judge asked the man whether he preferred jail time or a fine.
Looking a bit surprised, the man said: “Uh.. a fine, your honour.”
“Two thousand dollars,” said the judge, without hesitation.
“Oh!” said the guy, shocked. “Could I have the time?”
“Sure,” said the judge. “Six months.”
“Uh, your honour? Could I have the fine instead?”
“Take him away,” said the judge.
* * * * *
A guy up on an assault charge is trying to explain the mitigating circumstances to the court. He’s pleading guilty to the charge, but wants the judge to know what really happened.
What had happened for starters was he had a few too many and ended up in the drunk tank, along with several other unsavoury types. Two of them were carrying on, he says, so he told them to shut up.
“Oh yeah?” says one. “You want to go?”
“Shut up,” he says.
Boom! The two jump him, knock him down and commence kicking him in the head. He had no choice but to fight back, he said in his statement.
“They were kicking my ass! It was do or die.”
“How bad was it?” says the judge.
“My head hurts like it’s just one big frickin’ goose egg!”

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