Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Coffee, Fists and Death in the Morning

I guess the other blog thought it was funny. Their early morning headline was ‘Man Drowns in Court.’ But then they make their living laughing at the misfortune of others.

There was nothing funny about what happened to John Ross, who fled Judge Imperato’s courtroom on this day, only to jump into the swift waters of the normally tranquil Middle River, where he would die.

Mr. Ross was 29 years old. He had three children. Tonite, they have no father. Sadly, he set into motion a course of events which precipitated his demise. When Judge Imperato revoked his bond for getting arrested on new drug charges, it was also an invitation to arrest his drug problems. Mr. Ross only saw incarceration, not intervention. Maybe he was thinking of his children, maybe he was just being self-serving. We will never know. He revoked his own bond forever.

All afternoon, even on a quiet Friday, the courthouse was buzzing with remarks about the man who fled from the courtroom “they just left.” In the courthouse café, lawyers were joking about his stupidity. Joking, laughing, and drinking coffee.

Outside, in the cold waters, police officers, divers, were searching for a body.
Scores of law enforcement officers lined the New River where John Ross foolishly jumped in, against the advice of a dockmaster. But he wasn't listening.
How jaded have we become? Are we so peppered and seasoned by tragedy that a young man’s terrifying run for freedom becomes a mocking source for our daily amusement? Where is the life we have lost in living? Orson Welles novel, The Time Machine, comes to mind. We have become Morlocks, haven’t we?

I love humor, satire and sarcasm as much as anyone. I could easily have immersed myself into the banter and bastardization of Mr. Ross’s death which went on incessantly. But something instead made me think about the small little bungalow colony in the Catskills where I grew up; where everyone knew everyone. In a smaller world, everyone would have cared.

But next to our jury room, in a monolithic courthouse, with busy dockets, long lines, and thousands of people who do not know each other, no one cared.
Outside of a small circle of friends, no one cared.
The day was not over. While lawyers were buzzing about the escape, the former Everglades High School wrestling coach on trial for allegedly sexually molesting a teenage student was in a physical altercation with the accuser's father in a hallway outside another courtroom. "The skirmish highlighted an emotion-filled day as jurors heard closing arguments in the case," the Herald reported.
What a day, what a day.

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