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Reader frustrated with local court system

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By The Staff

Editor:

I am writing this letter as a tired, disgruntled, and extraordinarily frustrated citizen. As a 24-year-old man, I am proud to say that I have never been arrested or convicted of a crime. I have never spent one second in a jail cell. I have never had anything more than a speeding ticket.

Unfortunately, the last year and a half has required me to be in a courtroom enough to suit me for the rest of my life. I am involved in a case with someone over a stolen vehicle. In a couple of weeks, I will be engaged in a civil court matter with a former tenant over some property I own. Needless to say, my familiarity with our local court system over the recent past would be considered extensive. I would love to tell you that my experiences in the court system have been pleasant and/or educational. But, I have come away with nothing more than a disdain for and distrust of the attorneys we pay to represent us, specifically, and the way our justice system works, overall.

In September 2008, my vehicle was taken without my permission and wrecked. For the last five months, I have been appearing almost every other Thursday in District Court in regard to the case. Every single time I have been to court, the case has been continued. The main topic at hand has not been whether or not the accused took my vehicle without permission, but rather the amount of money  I should be compensated for the cost of my damaged vehicle.

I have brought forth to the court two estimates from professional auto-body businesses that give a reasonable amount the vehicle was worth. Every time that I have done so, the attorney for the accused has asked for a continuance to discuss the amount with his client, who continues to not show up to court, for reasons undisclosed to me. The last time I appeared in court I made a plea with the judge that the matter no longer be continued. I explained that for the past five months I have been borrowing vehicles from friends and family, or driving my motorcycle in freezing weather to Northern Kentucky University. As a college student, I do not have the money to simply go buy another vehicle.

At what point are the rights of the victim considered? I believe I have been more than fair in the amount I have asked for, and have been more than patient with the judicial process. During this past court hearing, the judge granted the accused a bench trial. The facts have not changed. The amount requested has not changed. If the accused never claimed to be innocent of the charges, why will there be a bench trial?

At what point does our judicial system seek to punish those who are wrong and stand up for those who have been victimized? I have a great deal of empathy for the accused. In these tough economic times, I completely understand someone not being able to afford paying restitution for a wrong-doing. But what about me, the victim? I had a dependable vehicle for transportation, which was essential to the continuance of my education. What about the days of work and school that I have had to miss to appear in court, just to have my case continued?

As for the civil matter against the former tenant, I have a great deal of cynicism; I will no doubt spend an endless amount of time and money, ultimately, and fear I will have nothing to show for it in the end. When I was younger and more optimistic, I used to ask, “Why don’t people pursue the wrongs that have been done to them through our court system?”

I now know the answer to that question. What’s the point?

Benjamin Watts

Carroll County