Fredericksburg General District Court

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I went to to the Fredericksburg General District Court, which is the 15th judicial district of Virginia on April 10th, 2014. I choose to attend on a Thursday when the Court is scheduled to hear cases on criminal and Traffic Misdemeanors. I opted to observe theses proceedings because they sounded more interesting than arraignments and bond hearings that were scheduled at an earlier time. I arrived during a recess and Judge Stevens was introduced shortly. The court clerk then called role of all the people who were supposed to be attending that day. Over the course of the day I witnessed about 14 cases, only a few are worth discussing. The first case was also the quickest. The Virginia state trooper who had pulled the defendant over had not show up to court that day. Judge Stevens promptly dismissed the case, making the young man very happy. In the second case the defendant was pulled over for reckless driving and found not to have a driver’s license. Because the defendant could not speak english the court brought in translator who relayed information between the Judge and the defendant. The defendant did not have lawyer to argue for him but the Judge lessened the charge of reckless driving to improper driving which carried a fine of 50 dollars as opposed to the 100 dollars for reckless driving. He was also fined an additional 100 dollars for driving without a license and ordered to pay costs of the court. I was impressed with Judge Stevens’s judgment and that he would go out of his way to lessen a charge for someone who had not asked for it, perhaps taking into account the defendant's language barriers. The next case was about a woman who was driving with a suspended license. Her defense was that she had not known it was suspend... ... middle of paper ... ...o “typical” bag of marijuana. The judge agreed with the defense and cited some precedents and then dismissed the case. From watching these court cases it is apparent that the most important thing one can do, apart from showing up up, is to hire a lawyer. Even if it is a court appointed one. I was surprised to see so many people waive their right especially after the court appointed lawyer got many people off. I was also impressed by the reasoning of the judge and his willingness to see that people were punished appropriately such as when he offered the underage driver community service instead of a fine and lessened the reckless driving charge in case number 2 so that the defendant would not have to pay as much in fines. Judge Stevens was very kind and invited Mary Washington Students to ask questions and instructed the defense to brief the court for their benefit.

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