Municipal Court

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Hanna Houle

Television shows such as, Law and Order and Aly Mcbeal have forced me to perceive court as a grand building with a large staircase and marble floors. A novice to the court system, I was unpleasantly surprised to find out just what court was like. The lack of free parking and immense amount of eight dollar parking in downtown Atlanta gave me an initial feeling that it was going to be a day of hassle and inconvenience. After realizing I was not on an episode of “Special Victims Unit,” and there was not going to be sudden dramatic music, and many “I objects!” I settled in, and watched the unassuming traffic violations unfold. Therefore, contrary to my expectations, I found myself in a laid back environment where competence is deemed unimportant to the judges, lawyers, and employees that I encountered.
Caught up in my fantastical, idyllic court world, I had very high expectations of how my first court experience would unfold. I dressed up for the occasion, wearing a business casual outfit with heels. As soon as I walked into the Municipal Court of Atlanta on Garnett Street, I was suddenly shocked back to the real world as eyes of sweat panting wearing, baggy panted individuals stared at me as if I was wearing my birthday suit. My glamorous perceptions were instantly retracted, as I walked through the security line, and saw halls of people waiting for their turn to hear their lawful fate. Not understanding my court etiquette, I asked an employee what my boundaries were as a simple observer, and his answer was, “Just have at it, miss.” With no shame, I entered the elevator and with purpose chose the third floor. The lackadaisical surroundings were something I was not expecting, as I sat down in the back corner of courtroom 3C without anyone asking what my intentions were.

The first type of court I experienced was Municipal court. The courtroom was packed with tired individuals waiting for their chance to leave as fast as possible. I...
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