I work in a criminal court, this is the best place to observe all in one go the different levels of social status. It goes from the lowest to the highest all in one day, in any court. I was able to identify with all these players in this great game of judging and punishing citizens for the slightest misconduct. So easily all of them can lose their social status overnight, you would not believe. The next case I call could easily be yours.
When I go home at the end of the day and need to escape this nightmare, I’m no longer certain what music truly represents my social status. If I should listen to classical music (everyone knows Mozart, but what about Brahms?), pop music (Céline Dion/Madonna), rock and roll (sort of U2), indie music (Muse/Suede), or death metal (Type O Negative). Someone will need to rescue me, as I listen to them all.
As an author I often think I do not require a social status, I am only an observer reporting what I see. I have taken my last job in a criminal court for that very reason, observe, mix in, become it, and report. But I am confused. I am now of all social status, a hard criminal, a common criminal, a civil servant, a manager of civil servants, a counsel, a solicitor or barrister and a judge of the high court.
Are we equal and all the same, as human beings? Or, oh my God, who are we? I no longer have any identity. This conundrum was reflected in many of my previous articles, people thought for a moment that I was a hard core criminal. I am not, I’m a writer before all, if anything else really. I become everyone as I am everyone. Maybe I take myself too seriously, or too frivolously. I’m not sure which.
I am not completely brainless or disconnected, we have to have a justice system of some sort, we need to arrest and bring those who do wrong in a court of law, judge them and punish them accordingly if necessary. I am part of that machine, the machine of the justice system. Sometimes I really have to remind myself that I am only a clerk, I do not condemn or defend these defendants, I don’t judge them, I take no side, I certainly do not sentence them.
It is hard all the same, because more often than you might think, it never goes as planned or as it should. And I know, unlike others perhaps, what goes on behind the scene, what it is like, what it means. I could not possibly wish it even on my worst enemy. I have many of those.
All sorts go to prison, rich executives and CEOs who somehow are caught decades later with a fake passport, or some kind of fraud, some politicians who let themselves be bribed so easily, to the lunatic who cannot control himself as soon as he drinks one beer too many, and will go on to disfigure once again someone for life who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Better not be you then, just move out of the way.
It really opens your eyes to who we are as a society. I thought recently I should only write in French, so no one would know who I am, or could read all that I wrote in the last few years. As a civil servant, I am not allowed to have a political opinion, let alone express it. This article is really at the edge of what I am allowed to state, it is actually illegal, and yet here I say nothing of real consequence, nothing concrete.
I cannot hide, you have no idea about these judges of the high court, they all speak many languages, French is usually their second language. Otherwise, their sons and daughters who never needed to do anything of their life, certainly travelled everywhere and learned all sorts of languages, after finishing their fourth university degree that we all know will lead nowhere. The same can be said of all these counsels, barristers and solicitors. Well travelled they are, so much money comes their way, they don’t know what to do with it. How many huge HD TVs one needs?
Such a contrast to all these defendants we deal with on a daily basis. Those who are no one, who could never dream of being anyone in this life, the minimum salary would be good. Sometimes I am quite certain that if they were given every chance, it would still be hopeless. Might as well die then. Oh but I am against any kind of death penalty. I much prefer a nice spicy Indian meal, I admit I’m an addict.
In between these extremes there are us, the court staff. It is a whole universe on its own, with husbands dying of heart attacks and clerks having cancer. So much gossip, such easy ways to destroy oneself if one does one mistake or speak too much at any point in time. I wonder if I will ever learn my lesson and just shut up once and for all, something I have not been trained to do.
You only require five minutes of losing control of yourself, in order to annihilate any kind of social status you might have reached in time. I nearly did it today, once again. Losing patience with all these civil servants who are all depressive and go off for days and months, and moans and complain and don’t want to do their job. So I end up doing all the work. Well, I lost it today. I was certain it was the end, either I would resign on the spot, or they will sack me. Well, no one can be sacked from the civil service, and that is one major headache for any manager there.
Try it, walk naked across every court one day, I’m sure you will still manage to escape being kicked out the door. It is not that all the civil service is lazy and does not want to do anything, it is only half of it. The other half is being overworked to death doing the work of three employees, and some days, well, you lose it. You then go on to face so many management meetings about it. Because for you who work so hard, there is a double standard. You will never be treated the same way as the ones who have already been marked as totally useless and beyond hope. Those get away with murder and it will never reach a court of law.
I have come recently to be very close to all these judges. It is an entirely different existence, even though it is all so closely related to the low life they sentence every day. I have to believe there is still a way to read and hear the worst of human kind, and yet, feel totally detached from it all. And yet, go on to play such a major role in the future of any human being who’s done wrong once or twice, or a hundred times before.
I have seen lists of antecedents that could cover the whole world, and yet the Judge is clement, especially when the defence counsel is convincing. I will admit that I would always be clement, but sometimes you have to accept, there is a limit to one’s patience.
When did I become so righteous? When I discovered God one rainy night on a corner street of Brussels where I was robbed by four kids, one with a knife planted in my back? They only got away with three Euros I think. They only found my wallet, I never keep anything in it when travelling or living in such wilderness as are some corners of Brussels. I still hope these kids will go on to become great writers or entertainers, or some lawyers somewhere in Texas perhaps, they are all criminals over there.
So easily one social status is absolutely and irretrievably wrecked as soon as one name is mentioned in a court room. Many are brought there through so many lies from complainants and victims of whatever. Some are justified for being there, and yet, you can’t escape the fact that if in some way these defendants could have been facing all this before acting, somehow if they could have thought first, their entire existence could have been radically different. Or is it not possible in the heat of the moment to think and stop what we are doing? Is it not possible to think anymore? I can’t, can you? For me it has always been about surviving the next day somehow.
Many are hopeless, they come back every year to face the same charges and even worse, and well, what can you think or do then? It is in their nature, they will not change, and nothing could stop them from doing it again the very next day. These are the extreme cases, and there is no hope for them. And I so wish there was, I so wish I could somehow help them understand and prevent all this. They are aware, they know, and yet, they cannot help themselves. They even accept their sentence, they think it is well deserved (some of them).
I live in some sort of welfare estate, having no money whatsoever, I am a civil servant after all. My direct neighbours are often normal citizens who for one night lost it, and went on to threaten to bomb the whole building with some remnants of grenades they somehow got hold of. Others just can’t control themselves once they are drunk, and will go on in search of a fight, smashing someone in the face, until the wheel starts again: the arrest, the police station, the court case, the judgement. Around me are pretty much the extreme cases, no one is listening to classical music around here.
Down the road, a bit more upmarket, higher social status, you find the odd one who finds himself in court but certainly had good reason to act the way he did. Let’s see if he will get away with it. We all feel the need to kill someone sometimes, heck, I’m guilty of that myself. I must have read too many books of Agatha Christie, I read all 80 of them. I usually don’t act upon it unless obliged to, due to unusual circumstances. Let me see me justify myself in a court of law. Am I that clever, can I get away with it? Can you?
When one is lying in court it is obvious, and then it does not matter if someone did you wrong, being caught lying will always lead to you losing your case. I can tell you that much, always keep to the truth as much as you can, even if it makes you look really bad. I hope I have helped.
So easily I could find myself in the dock. And yet, I always think I don’t belong there, that it could never possibly be me. It will be me one day, it will be you. Then you will want to rethink about the way we go about everything in the justice system, the police treatment, the whole prison system, the whole of society! Because then, you will be reduced to that, you will be nothing else but someone charged with something. Your life is already gone by then. Someone will lie, someone will get you there.
It no longer matters to the police or the prosecution who you are and if you are unjustly being framed by the lies of others. You go through it, the prison cell, the court case, the trial, everything. You will be treated the worst way possible.
Many believe it is the way to go, in order to get people to think before they act. Treat them like sub humans, like animals are not even treated, they will think twice next time. But what if you are innocent, or were somehow justified, or pushed to act the way you did?
It is no easy ride once you are arrested, you quickly get confronted with the worst of corruption from our police force, a prosecution who will stop at nothing to ensure you end up in prison for quite a while, even without tangible proof (hell, they will invent them for you).
And then you understand exactly how you have no rights whatsoever, you can only but be guilty until proven innocent. The shock is always greater the higher your social status is in society. You had no idea, did you? Low life criminals know all about it, they could write books and books about it. I have written a few myself, in secret, you will never read them as I could not possibly put them online on my website.
I’m not even yet talking about what happens in prison, if somehow you get convicted from a lack of a good defence counsel. Well, never go to prison without money, you will need it. Make sure people can smuggle things in for you, even though this is highly illegal and will lead to custody for the daring friend, it is worth the risk since you could not survive otherwise.
Who would have thought that even in prison one would so desperately need money in order to survive? And do not dream of going there with a mobile phone cleverly hidden up your ass, they now have the technology to detect such object without having to put their hands up your ass.
And so ironic that most of these prisoners who are so straights and laughed and ridiculed all those gay or gay looking students in school, driving them all to suicide eventually, that once in prison for too long they quickly become the worst twisted bisexual men you could ever meet in your life. As AIDS or any other incurable venereal diseases like hepatitis is what your real sentence will truly end up being.
No one bothers with condoms in prison, why should they? Everyone knows that with a condom you cannot feel anything. If you somehow can survive all the mind games of the authorities and other prisoners, and real consequences of incarceration, even in detention whilst being a kid, you are quite someone I would like to meet. You will no longer be a kid then, I can assure you. Don’t despair, you will learn the trade and come out a complete professional criminal. Quite the respectable figure, for such small minded and impressionable minds down there in prison.
This is what I always hope judges keep in mind. A prison sentence is a death sentence every single time, one way or another. And no one cares, no one thinks of sorting this prison system out apart from me apparently. Separate them all, always!
I’ll eventually write a damn book about it, it will be real ugly. What can I expect from a government ordering torture? Well, it existed well before it became worldwide news, it will exist in the future for a long time in our prison system, even without being condoned by the authorities. This is what prison is and will always be.
Are you sure you need to drink that last beer? You better think twice mate, you never know where that last beer will bring you. Just hit someone in self-defence, or get mixed up in some argument, and you will quickly find out, how far the lies of others can bring you. How rapidly all that you worked so hard all your life, this wonderful social status of yours, will come crumbling to dust at your feet, and at the feet of your parents who thought so much of you and will even believe you are guilty of all the lies of all parties.
Only five seconds are required for anyone, of any social status, to self-destruct, to annihilate their entire career. Never forget it. Even if declared not guilty, by whatever means, the stain, the stench, will always remain. You are finished, even if you somehow escape mental and physical torture you are sure to find in prison or detention.
Better never go out of the house at all, and even then, most often it will happen at home with your loved ones, so quickly they will turn against you, because all of us are so unreasonable. Better not exist at all then. I thought of many ways by which someone could commit suicide, even if one is a coward like me and lack any sort of courage to actually do it.
Sorry! Am I being too extreme? So easily you could reach that point, you have no idea. You could not possibly find any justice in this world, if you can even afford it, I’m fairly certain of that. And remember, I am part of that justice system, I know all about it.
I have a judge who always listens to classical music in between cases. Another who speaks many languages, how cultured he really is, no one had the chance to probe it to the end, not even the ushers in love with him. I have new judges who are so lovely, so nice, so high class, I am there thinking, yes, you are truly someone, someone I could fall in love with and I don’t care of what sex you are. I could so easily become a part of your life and drink your words every minute of this existence, I cannot comprehend you are a judge in a criminal court. Should we have sex right here on your desk Your Honour, with your nice cup of tea in between?
I will be shot for saying that. I think I need to drink that last beer, never mind the consequences. I am a human being after all, I am just like any of you, so don’t be so quick in judging me. Why don’t you stop to judge yourself once in a while? Like now would be a good time, before one of my judges does it for you.
I’ve got them all on my side, none of them would send me to prison now, they would fight for me as so limited are their horizons. Outside their bubble universe they only know me, I am such the blue eye boy, I can do no wrong. Yes, I will be shot now, if I could only shut up once in a while. I should really write in French, no one reads anything in French (except those judges).
This is what I have been identifying with recently, far from the world of the criminals, even the counsels which we have been told as clerks we control and should never let them take over the show in any court. And over those civil servants and their miserable existence, being underpaid and overworked (half of them at least). I see myself as a judge, I see myself at their level, I have to be that delusional as an author.
Yeah, such a nice and rich and peaceful existence. Such social status should never be hindered, not even whilst dealing with such ugly cases, reading all these statements, watching all these CCTV recordings, listening to recorded phone calls and emails, and other ugly things low life human beings are capable of. Your Honour, you are an artist! It is a creative existence you require! And yet, without all this ugliness, you would be nothing, or what exactly would you be?
I know the route, if I wanted to I could follow it myself. After all, I started as a student of law many years ago. I could finish it, and work towards becoming a judge of the high court. I could do it. I am not a judge however, they are. And these are the people I speak with everyday, that I am helpful to, who appreciate me for all my hard work. And yet, I would wish to go further, find out more about who they truly are.
They can’t be saints themselves, those who judge and punish us, can they? Are those your children on the wall Your Honour? Tell me all about it, how proud you are of being alive. Such ecstasy is so rarely found these days. Oh, it is not as perfect as it should be, is it? Is this why you are so moody and out control most of the time? You would not let any of that influence your judgment, would you?
Because then, I would gladly put my trust into a computer only answering to logic. Only those can truly be trusted. I am of that generation that only trust machines, only they cannot be influenced by anything, or be bribed, or become corrupt by politics, and even then, they can easily be manipulated, just like you Your Honour.
I wish I could fault them, I wish I had something negative to say about my judges. But I don’t, they never failed me, they never acted beyond their role, which in the end is so framed anyway. They have little liberty to go beyond any boundary. There is always a court of appeal, and don’t they know it. The “court of appeal” are those three magic words that a clerk needs to state in order to calm down any of those judges when they get carried away. I do abuse those three magic words all the time, I have to say.
So I have come to admire them, those judges, and feel that somehow, there is justice in our justice system. In some way it makes me feel uneasy, as somehow it should not be the case. On who’s side am I? They do sentence these people, they do send them to prison. Is it always justified? So difficult to tell, and then, you can only trust the system, trust that we are doing the right thing, that no decision is actually unjustified and everything has been considered.
I think corruption in any system of government or justice, is not to be found in every day life, at the lower levels. The higher you go, this is where you will find corruption. And yet, it does not erase the fact that anyone could so quickly annihilate their social status as soon as their name gets connected to any court. Even the judges are not immune, say one thing wrong at any one time, forget who you are and what you are doing for one long minute, and that is it, it is national headline news.
This is why I am so confused. I took that job to spy on the justice system, to report its faults, to prove there was no justice in this world. And my pre-sentence report is simply positive, those people do not require a sentence.
However, I cannot say the same for the police force, the prosecution and the prison system. Be afraid, be really afraid is all I can say. Frankly, the higher your social status right now, the lower your chances are to survive it all. But that is another horror story, which I will only speak about in a few years, once I am no longer a civil servant working in a criminal court.
All I will say though is: complain, complain and complain at all levels. Because though these authorities are prone to easily forget the law and get carried away, to the point of becoming racist and homophobic and everything else as a matter of fact, many others within these institutions are responsible for investigating every single complaint, and turn the existence of the culprits into a nightmare. Eventually they will get the message, eventually they will no longer act outside the law, or, they will no longer be there to abuse their powers.
You will still lose your great social status as soon as you get too close to any of us, but at least, there is still some justice in this world you can get, especially if you can afford it. Oh yes, mortgage yourself to the teeth, declare bankruptcy you have no choice, you have to get the best to defend you. Otherwise, well, you will lose the only thing that truly matters. No, not your honour, not your reputation, not your credibility, not your social status (all that is lost as a given), you will lose your freedom.
It is always best not to live or breathe at all, better lock yourself up every night in a cupboard somewhere. It is the only safe way out of this life. Remember, we are all criminal at heart, as so easily we can end up in court and lose everything, even with a not guilty verdict.
I have already said too much, I’m sure I will be up for sentencing soon. This article is the end of my promising career in the justice system. I don’t care anymore after one beer too many. There must be a way to move to the northern part of Scotland and find a job there that involves no one?
Better stay away from it all altogether, as you can never trust anyone, not even your defence counsel who will always but care little for you. Keep in mind that I will soon be calling your name in my court, no one is that perfect.
So easily you will lose you social status, in a world filled with convincing liars.
“Without irony, this life would hardly be worth living.”