Here at the paper we generally cover felony criminal cases, which are handled in superior court in local counties.
My visits to what the state refers to as "local" courts (town, village and city courts) generally consist of efforts to look at court files, and not sit around to wait for a case to be called.
On Monday I spent a few hours in Queensbury Town Court waiting for a child sex abuse defendant to have his turn before Justice Michael Muller in the court's weekly criminal court calendar.
I noticed a few trends:
* If Monday was any indication, shoplifters make up a large portion of the criminal case in Queensbury, which makes sense considering the number of stores and shopping centers we had. I counted at least five defendants whose cases stemmed from shoplifting at places like WalMart, Kmart and the outlets.
* Marijuana is still very popular.
* Lots of people are driving without driver's licenses.
* Many people don't shower, or wear clean clothes, to court. In a small courtroom packed with people, that leads to a particularly warm, malodorous situation, especially when many are going in and out of court to smoke in the parking lot. To a lot of the defendants, a trip to town court isn't that big a deal, as they do it quite often. Not to sound preachy, but a jacket without rips in it and a shower may help you convince the judge that you are trying to improve your life.
* Muller is generally an affable and amusing fellow on the bench, even when his calendar has stretched four hours without a break. If you want to see some real-life entertainment, and see where your tax dollars go, a Monday morning in his courtroom is worth the price of admission. (FYI, it's free.)