Judge Judy has nothing on Toowoomba’s courts

PETER PATTER: After listening to a BBC World Service interview with Judith Sheindlin, better known as TV's Judge Judy, I reckon our magistrates are selling themselves short.

According to the BBC's Outlook program, Judge Judy reportedly earns $47 million a year for her show. That's not a misprint, $47 million - American dollars!

From what I've seen, her court is probably what we would call a Small Claims Court.

And, with all due respect to the former New York Family Law Court judge, her court wouldn't hold a candle to our Magistrates Court for drama or entertainment.

Warning! If you're having breakfast while reading this it might be best to put down the paper and finish eating first.

Or, if you're averse to graphic news material, turn away now.

You see, Judge Judy's court would never screen an episode that included the case of a young man allegedly found during a police pat-down search to have a foreign object in his rectum.

This young man was allegedly found with a small plastic bag containing "green leafy material" in his bottom. (I'm sorry, there's no other way to describe it.)

The court heard the chap protested his innocence, explaining: "I've never smoked marijuana in my life. I have no idea how that got there!"

Now, you can't just dismiss his explanation without giving some thought to "benefit of the doubt".

But if he's telling the truth, somewhere in Toowoomba lurks a villain moving about the populace and randomly depositing bags of illicit drugs up the bottoms of innocent people - and the victims remain none the wiser.

Of course, prisoners secreting objects at such close quarters is nothing new.

Police and prison officers have a myriad of stories of like incidents.

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There is even a local lass who is regularly in touch with our Thin Blue Line who has a penchant for secreting her mobile phone thus.

As a colleague pointed out, our magistrates are strict on those who allow their mobile phones to ring out during court proceedings.

Picture it. A young lass sitting at the bar table suddenly breaks into uncontrollable shaking.

"Is there something wrong with your client?" the magistrate asks the defence lawyer.

"Oh no, Your Honour, she switched her phone to silent/ vibrate before she came into court. She's just receiving a call."

Now, it is court practice that the offending phone is immediately surrendered and remains in the registry until 4pm that day when it can be retrieved by its owner.

Without wanting to put too fine a point on it, expecting the court clerk to retrieve the phone in such circumstances.... I mean, eewww!

And to have it lay in the registry until later in the afternoon? I mean, eewww!

Down through the years I have written about a number of people who have appeared before our courts having been caught secreting illicit items somewhere on their person.

Like the guy arrested at an inner-city hotel where he was selling drugs.

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He kept his "stash" well hidden, so he thought, by duct taping (yes, duct taping) his bag of booty to his scrotum. I mean, surely that's a Workplace Health and Safety issue let alone a hygiene case?

Yet, you would see none of this "entertainment" on Judge Judy which is why I reckon our magistrates are selling themselves short.

Maybe the Queensland Government should look at televising our courts.

It would be a ratings blockbuster and, let's face it, our government could do with the revenue.


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