Real Talk with Judge Dawson

Judge, please start on time...

At least once a week, during one of our heavy dockets, my Bailiff tells me that someone in the Courtroom made a smart comment about the length of time they waited for Court to start. Accordingly, I’ve decided to share this public service announcement: Don’t be impatient while waiting for Court to start. Not just my Court but any Court. In fact, being patient will give you an advantage in your overall life. Have you heard the saying that “patience is a virtue?” The statement means that patience is a good quality, something that people appreciate and patience is good for you, personally. Here are the principles to keep in mind: 1. “Hurry up and wait.” Hurry up and wait means that you should arrive at your destination on time and then be prepared to wait for others. However, keep in mind that being on time makes you average. Being on time is an expected behavior and just because you are on time no one will take extra notice. Alternatively, getting to a location, appointment or court appearance early will make others take notice. I make a point to commend the people who arrive to Court early. It is impressive and shows me that they are serious about their business. The other part of hurry up and wait indicates that, because you are early or on time, you should show patience when dealing with other people. To tap into your patience, instead of taking it personally, consider that there may be other issues, people and matters to handle that may have occurred even before you arrived.
2. Judges have several cases and situations to handle in Court and out of Court. When I arrive at Court, I have a full staff to attend to as well as cases and community projects. Your time is important, but so is the time of every other person. Do yourself a “control management” favor by not assuming that the Judge is purposely wasting your time. I don’t know a single Judge who doesn’t try his or her best to manage and respect everyone’s time. 3. What you say in Court can be used against you. When you allow your emotions about Court or other proceedings not starting on time to cause you to speak out, you may be putting yourself in a bind. Believe me, when you speak against a person or organization, that information gets back to the people in charge. If you feel a negative emotion building about someone being late or an event starting late, think about the possible outcome before you speak. Will your comment make the person hurry up? Will the comment make your situation go more smoothly? Will the comment come back to bite you in the butt? Taking the time to “Finish First,” considering the end before you begin, can ensure your best encounter. 4. Respecting the Court goes a long way. On the other hand, when a person is in front of me who has displayed patience and respect, that person may receive a benefit for his or her behavior. It’s truly unfortunate that I have to give rewards for good behavior, but I see so many people with disrespectful attitudes, postures and communications that when I encounter that respectful person, that courtesy goes a long way and leaves a good impression on me. 5. No one wants to be in Court. We all know that most people do not enjoy spending their precious time in Court. Court requires people to adjust their schedule and bank account. However, you are not the only person who feels that way. No one likes to spend their time waiting in Court so let’s make the best of it. 6. Controlling your emotions can be the difference between waiting to pay your fines and costs or waiting to get released from jail.
The biggest issue with people loosing their patience in Court or other public places is that certain reactions and behaviors will cause them to get arrested. There have been numerous times that, instead of going home after court, people have been sent to jail for contempt of Court. Don’t let your emotions cost you a stay in jail.
7. Pay your fines and costs. In East Cleveland it was a common practice to come to court without any money to pay fines and costs. Though I no longer accept this as a common practice, I do understand that there are some people who truly don’t have the means to pay fines. It is important to know that one result of failing to pay your fines and costs is the possibility of your drivers license being suspended. Additionally, agreeing to pay but missing the hearing about paying can cause your traveling to be interrupted by a police vehicle, ready to arrest you on a warrant. If you commit the crime then pay your fine. It’s about taking personal responsibility. Life is easier that way. East Cleveland Municipal Court’s Judge William L. Dawson is on a mission to help people to Finish First, live their best lives and be Cycle Breakers! To receive a copy of his newsletter, reach out by: judgewilliamdawson@gmail.com, www.teamfinishfirst.com or www.Judgedawson.com.>