Daily Archives: December 4, 2013

going to court

Men judge us by the success of our efforts . God looks at the efforts themselves ———Charlotte Bronte

I took Metro downtown to the Superior Court courthouse to do a little research on the trial of three  kids  who shot and killed an Arcadia police officer in 1927.  I have been  caught in the mistaken belief that the trial records that I wanted to see , if they still exist , were over at the Huntington Library in San Marino .  Courthouse trip to archives 006

But I was under a false assumption . The Huntington holds older court records . The ones I wanted to see would still be in the archives downtown . I found this out accidently while asking a few questions to a librarian  at the Central Library in Los Angeles .

Courthouse trip to archives 005 Courthouse trip to archives 008

The archives are down below the courthouse , in a bunker-like area . No photos are allowed anywhere in the courthouse . If there are one or two in this post I have no idea where they came from .Courthouse trip to archives 004Courthouse trip to archives 001Courthouse trip to archives 013 Courthouse trip to archives 015 Courthouse trip to archives 014

I first needed a file number for the case . A clerk handed me an old tome held together with big red rubber bands . The pages had torn  loose over time .

Make sure the pages are put back together when you give it back , she said .

I wasn’t sure what the book was when she handed it to me . Could it be the court transcript ? No . It was a list of names . Most of them were alphabetically arranged . Next to each name was a date and a file number . I searched for three names and found two . Both had the same date and file number . They had been on trial together .

With the case number in hand I went to another bunker room to see if a micro-film record existed . If one did I could get copies for 50 cents a page .

I pulled a waiting list number , filled out a written request at the counter , and sat in the hallway with fifteen or twenty others . About forty minutes later my name was called . I went back  to the counter .

What do you want ? a clerk  barked at me .

I heard my name called , I said .

I called it ,  she growled . What do you want ?

I wanted what I had written I wanted . She told me that she would see what she could find and she disappeared further into the bunker . I went back to my hallway seat and , again , waited .

In twenty minutes or so she called me back . She had two mimeographed  pages .  Only two . One stated that a trial had been set . One was the guilty verdict . 

That’s all ? 

The rest is confidential . I can’t let you see it unless you have a judge’s order .Courthouse trip to archives 016For a 1927 case ?  Really ? 

Really .

So I set off to get a judge’s order .

I walked through the new L.A. central park, Grand Park ,  and George Washington was staring at me . He was , somehow , whispering toward me about a cherry tree , chopping one down . He didn’t even have to open his mouth . I cannot tell a lie ,  he said .

I knew what he was doing .  He was throwing a guilt trip my way because of the two or three photos I had taken in the bunker under the courthouse . O.K. , it was me ; I took a few ; they are mine . But , when I took them I was not yet aware of the ‘no photographs anywhere in the courthouse’  rule . What ?  So I should delete them from my camera ?

Good thing Honest Abe wasn’t there , too . He may have told me to turn myself in . As it was , I got away .

Now I’ve got to go find a judge.

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