The Call Box: More Copland Stories

Thepolic-call-box-pedestal-lapd-gamewell-DCAL2786_dt1 1958 TV season gave us a show wherein the narrator intoned, “There are seven million stories in the naked city. This is one.”

I am willing to bet out there in “Copland,” there are at least that many stories just concerning the courts: quirky judges, inept attorneys, naïve victims, witless witnesses and dumb defendants.

Agents from the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency (ATF) had set up a sting to nab an organized crime figure (also ex-con) in possession of a firearm. They followed him on a hunting trip and after charging him with “ex-con w/a gun,” put on their case in federal court. At this point, the judge admonished the Assistant US Attorney and felt the government was harassing a legitimate sportsman.  

Now, any first-year law student would, at this point, realize he had won his case and would sit down and shut up.

 Not this guy. Oh no. He put his client on the stand to testify regarding the various “sporting” clubs he belonged to. 

 The judge interrupted his testimony to ask a question regarding one particular club. “Is this the place where the birds are kept in a small box and then released so you can shoot them?”

 “Ah yes.”

 The judge was a member of the Audubon Society.

 Guilty.

 

Another of my cases was in progress and the victim on the stand had just been asked what color hat the defendant was wearing during the robbery. The victim answered, “Black.”

I saw the defendant tug on his attorney’s sleeve and whisper in his ear. The attorney, who was a brand new public defender, nodded and asked the victim, “Could the hat possibly have been dark green?”  

 The victim admitted, “It could have been.” On the table in front of the defendant was his hat, dark green. I guess he just wanted to keep the record straight.

With an “assist” from his attorney.

 

Judge Clarence “Red” Stromwall had been a member of the famous “Hat Squad” [ subject of future story] and was now a Superior Court judge sitting on what were called “long cause cases.”  These were usually murder trials estimated to take weeks or even months.

We had been friends for years and he told me that to fight the boredom and tedium of oft times numbing testimony he kept a “Captain Marvel” coloring book with crayons on the bench to use whenever needed.

I am not telling tales out of school as this had be mentioned in his bio.

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