>A Day In Hoboken Municipal Court: The State of New Jersey vs. Keith Stone

Posted: March 18, 2011 by Keith Stone in crime and punishment, New Jersey, St. Patrick's Day

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Last week, I got busted for public urination at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hoboken. Since New Jersey is such a classy place, I wasn’t able to simply pay a fine and go on my merry way. I had to appear before a judge at Hoboken Municipal Court and face a maximum fine of $2,000. It was not fun.

I stayed over the night before at my friend Autodraft’s girlfriend’s place down the street from the courthouse. I’m not a morning person and my appearance was scheduled for 8:15. I woke up and heard rain. It was a bad omen. I wanted to look my best for the judge but I didn’t have a hat or an umbrella so I was soaked by the time I got to the courthouse.

I didn’t want to look like George Clooney in The Perfect Storm when I went before the judge so I went to the bathroom to dry off. Luckily, the bathroom didn’t have a mirror, so I used my cell phone to see my reflection and dry my hair with paper towels. When I was finished, I turned around and a security guard was watching me the whole time laughing.

There were a few people in the court room when I arrived. They were all like me, white kids in their mid 20’s, although I looked like I was heading to a job interview and they looked like they were heading to Jenkinson’s with Sammi Sweetheart. Lots of gel.

The prosecutor called us one-by-one to the front of the court to discuss a plea deal. He looked like Michael Kay. I wondered if the judge would look like John Sterling. I overheard him talking to the people before me and the figure $750 kept coming up. It’s a lot, but I figured it could be worse. Then, the prosecutor called me up.

I started to relax and was planning on taking a $750 plea deal. Then, the prosecutor dropped a bomb. $1,250. It is high, it is far, it is gone. I was crushed like a Mark Wohlers breaking ball. It’s awkward being in front of 20 people and trying to have an important private conversation like I was having at this point. I tried to negotiate but Michael Kay wouldn’t hear of it. I asked if I could do some community service if he would lower the fine. He told me the judge might add some community service to the fine. Seeeeeeeeeeeee ya. I took the plea. I didn’t want to risk paying more and having another court date. I limped back to my seat because it felt like I had just been fucked.

While I was talking to the prosecutor, an Indian kid sat next to my spot in the gallery. He started asking me questions and I wanted none of it, but after a while it was nice not to be alone. Michael Kay kept doing his meetings and then a voice rang out in the back of the court, “All rise.”

When the judge entered, the respect afforded to him was like that of a beautiful girl except infinitely more hateful. At this point, there were so many people in the courtroom that there were about 30 people standing in the back. The Hoboken PD had been busy at the parade. Nobody was rooting for the judge. It was like J. J. Redick back in his college days.

The judge went through each case in about 30 seconds. Most of them were for open containers, where the penalty was a $750 fine. Still way excessive but how is that $500 better than public urination? Only one black guy went before the judge the whole time. That may have been a new record. It was just a whole bunch of white kids.

It was mostly guys at court, but a few girls were there too. They were all pretty hot but had on their most serious outfits. It didn’t really go with the acrylic Jersey Girl nails, though. They all looked like whores in church. When one of these chicks had a public urination charge levied against her, I almost burst out laughing. The judge called her disgusting. High comedy.

Then, they called up Keith Stone. It was fairly unremarkable. I debated using the “I just had to go” defense or telling the judge that I was simply trying to improve New Jersey. I didn’t. The judge asked me if I understood the charges against me. “Yes, Your Honor.” The judge asked if I was waiving my right to an attorney. “Yes, Your Honor.” Then he added seven days of community service to my plea. Fuck. I smiled. The judge asked if I could pay the entire $1,250 that day. I said I had $200 and could pay $300 every month after that. Fuck Hoboken getting interest on my money. The judge reminded me that they accepted credit cards. Smartass.

I paid my $200 in cash (ballllllllller) and met up with community service guy. I figured I could do the time in New York. He told me I had to do it in Hoboken. At 8AM. On the weekend. Talk about adding insult to injury. I signed all the papers and left the courthouse a beaten man.

Let’s talk about hypocrisy for a bit. Hoboken has the most bars per capita in the country. It’s got a hundred-year history as a blue collar town. Every year, it has a St. Patrick’s Day parade on a Saturday and the bars open at 9AM. Then, when a kid tries to pee in a back alley, he gets $1,250 fine. This isn’t Singapore. The streets aren’t pristine. There was debauchery all over the place. I saw people peeing all over the place. Two girls got raped. That’s serious stuff. How about instead of worrying about some kid carrying an open container, let’s focus on stopping rapes and fighting? Frank Sinatra would be embarrassed right now.

So in the next couple weeks, if you find yourself in Hoboken, I ask you one favor. Please don’t litter because I’m the guy that’s going to be cleaning it up. And of course, please find a restroom if you really need to go.

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