My rant about the court system -- it's totally broken
I was the victim of an attempted robbery in San Francisco over the holidays. Three young black men decided that they were going to try and steal my laptop bag. They didn't succeed as luckily my brother in law and my next door neighbours heard me yelling and helped scare them off.
This is where my brush with the crazy bureaucracy that is our court system begins.
I get asked by DA to come in at 9 AM about a month later to testify. So I show up on time and about 9:30 AM the DA shows up and says, we're not sure when your trial will come up so please wait. She comes back at 10:30 and says we're still not sure so please keep waiting. At noon she says, aha - we know that it won't be today so you're free to go and please come back on Friday. ARGH - half a day wasted.
Come back on Friday at 9 AM as requested. Wait again until 9:30. DA is confident that the case will go today and they're waiting for a judge. 10:30 AM checkin - judge is on the way, but they were held up in another court. 11:30 AM - Judge finally arrives and decides that they're all going to take a break and wait until after lunch to get started at 1 PM. 2 PM - I finally get up to take the stand and testify. I'm done by 3 PM. My day is mostly shot.
My hope is that at that point it's done and I don't have to do anything more.
Fast forward a few weeks to end of January. Another subpeona to appear in court. This time it's for another one of the people that tried to rob me. DA says - please show up at 8 AM. I dutifully show up at 8 AM. 8:45 rolls around and the DA arrives. 9:30 AM - checkin to say that they're trying to set up a witness lineup. 10:30 AM comese and the DA says that they can't get the lineup done in time. Come back at noon. Go home, come back at noon and wait until 12:30 PM for them to set up the line up. Done by 1:30 PM and now waiting. Finally at 3:30 PM they come back and say that the case has been dismissed. ARGHHHH
Now keep in mind that this is not only my time that has been wasted. There was another witness there, his wife, the interpreter for them, the victim's advocate, the DA, at least 5 police officers and me. So a conservative estimate is 10 people who wasted 7 hours of their lives there.
The worst part is that it isn't even over. The case could still go to trial and they would drag me back in again.
I'm all for being a concerned citizen but the system needs to respect my time and the time of those participating. In fact, it would be great if people just wore watches.
The worst part is that everyone in the system recognizes the problem. The DA and the police officers that I talked to certainly acknowledged it and apologized but ultimately they can't do anything about it. In fact, no one can do anything about it.
The root cause is that no one is accountable in this system for making sure that it runs efficiently and smoothly. No politician gets elected or celebrated for solving that problem.
And so everytime a victim of a crime goes through the system they get victimized all over again.