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November 8, 2013

Why I Live at the DMV

Jennifer and I took her Jeep down to the DMV in the Jefferson County administration building. When they built this $90M monstrosity, the citizens were so disgusted with the flagrantly ostentatious temple, that they derisively renamed it the "Taj Mahal" and threw every single county administrator and commissioner out of office. The only person that remained in office was the Sheriff, John Stone. He hired snipers and had them shoot a silver dollar out of his hand on live television, but then botched the Columbine response and that ended his career. But I digress.

I own so many vehicles there just aren't words. It's nothing to be proud of. Just signs of something that deeply wrong with me that no one except my brother has ever tried to fix. So, it means that I spend my life at the DMV, trying to keep up with the registrations, plates, smog requirements. You name it.

Now, these dill-holes as the DMV are just the worst. As dumb as moles. I tell Jen when we go there, you have to bring everything that you have. Title. Insurance. Registration. Passport. Driver's license. Check book. Credit card. Cash. You never know with these people. Their goal in live is to break your spirit slowly, the way a skilled BBQ man works a pork shoulder. It takes time to break the spirit of a citizen. The trolls at the DMV are skilled at this. To them, it is an art...a craft...no different than a woodworker or a blacksmith.

"These people Jen...they're no like you and me. They're more like evil, diabolical masochists, with a preternatural skill for breaking people down. You can't let them get to you, OK. They can sense weakness. Don't look them in the eye. Don't speak unless spoken to. Don't speak unless spoken to. Don't offer them any documents they don't ask for. Got it?"

"Got it."

I show her around the Taj Mahal. "Now...you see that side? That side is where they really fuck you. That's the side where the prosecute citizens that aren't doing anything wrong. See how that have the metal detector and the TSA-type of shop? You know why they do that?"


"Because a cop came in here one day and shot someone. So now, the cops take the guns away from innocent citizens. Makes sense, right?"

"Wait," she clarifies," It was a cop that shot someone?"

"Yeah. But we're not going to that side today. Today, we're going to this side."

And this building is something straight out of Franz Khafka's nightmares. Large central atrium with glass domed ceilings. A statue of Thomas Jefferson sitting on a bench, which is so ironic I don't know where to begin.

"Let's take the elevator."

The elevator has marble floors, brass walls. Imagine the Peabody hotel in Memphis. The only thing missing are the ducks and the fountain.

We take the Willy Wonka elevator to the 2nd floor, walk down to the DMV section, and take a number. A trillion dollar system lets you push a button based on what you're there for, and we take a number and sit down.

It's Thursday, and we get our number and sit, waiting patiently to be fed into the gears of the machinery.

Eventually, they call her number. This is Jen's deal. Not mine. I'm trying to get her to handle her own affairs at this point. I figure I'm not long for this world, so she needs to get to where she can navigate this planet on her own.

The woman before us is from the Soviet Union, from western Siberia. Somehow, she's never gotten around to reading Solzhenitsyn's work, but I doubt she read Kafka either. Nothing surprises me any more.

Eventually, they explain to Jen that her Jeep needs to be smogged. Now, of course, there is no smogging station anywhere near the Taj Mahal. Nor do they issue driver's licenses at the DMV. That would make too much sense. Like having an actual DMV office here to issue licenses. We have zero incentive to serve the public. How about a nice cup of shut-the-fuck-up and go somewhere else?

We have to walk by a bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson on the way out. Like..how ironic is that? He's spinning in his grave. And they have the gall to put a statue of him up inside the Taj Majal. I want to scream.

So now, we go to get the Jeep smogged. I know the place by heart. We drive there, park the Jeep. Wait inside while they smog the Jeep. The put it on rollers and measure the exhaust emissions. If you fail, you still have to pay for the test. And so it goes.

Somehow, we pass, but now, the Taj Mahal is closed. And so it goes.

We try again tomorrow? Yes. We'll try again tomorrow. You know, the funny thing is that, in Mexico, they don't put up with this shit. Mexico is a free country. You can do whatever you want down there. People drive with no plates at all on the cars. Drive ATV's down the streets. I'm thinking we need to move.

Posted by Rob Kiser on November 8, 2013 at 9:22 PM


It was in Aurora, not Jefferson County. But yeah, the idea of allowing cops who are not assigned to court house security to carry guns into court houses just shows that "equality before the law" is a lie we are told as children to make us accept any inequality and any injustice.

Policeman Shoots Wife's Attorney At Divorce Hearing

JOSEPH GARCIA , Associated Press
Jan. 14, 1986 9:33 PM ET

AURORA, COLO. AURORA, Colo. (AP) _ A police officer opened fire in a courtroom where his divorce case was being heard Tuesday, shooting his wife's lawyer at least three times before being disarmed by a deputy who was in court for another case.

Jeanne Elliott, 37, was paralyzed from the chest down by one of at least three bullets and underwent surgery at Presbyterian Aurora Hospital, where she was listed in serious condition.

Gerald Lee Utesch, 44, an Aurora police officer for 16 years, was charged with attempted murder and assault and held in the county jail on $250,000 bond. His arraignment was scheduled for Jan. 21, and he was suspended from the police department without pay.

Just before the shooting, County Judge Thomas Levi had granted the divorce, asking Utesch to leave the courtroom with Elliott to sign papers so payments could be made on the family home, said Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan.

Utesch refused to go with Elliott, Sullivan said, but agreed to accompany sheriff's deputy Richard Lawson. Lawson, 35, was in the courtroom on another case.

When Utesch reached the door, he pulled a .38-caliber snub-nose pistol from a holster and began shooting at Elliott, who was 10 to 12 feet away, Sullivan said.

Utesch fired twice before Lawson grabbed him, and fired two more times as Lawson held his arm, Sullivan said. Utesch was not in uniform.

''Everything points at this point that he was shooting at the attorney,'' Sullivan said. Dianna Utesch was 10 to 12 feet away from Elliott, he said.

Elliott was shot in the abdomen, the spine, the left hand and the leg. She also was wounded in the nose by the bullet that entered her hand, which she had raised to protect her face.

There were about 16 people in the courtroom when the shooting occurred, Sullivan said. There were no other injuries, he said.

Utesch joined the Aurora police force in April 1969, and also had been a police officer in Farmington, N.M. In a 1981 department evaluation, he was rated above-average in police work.

Utesch and his wife, who separated in 1984, have four children ranging in age from 18 to 24. None was present when the shooting occurred, Sullivan said.

Gary Johnson, one of three lawyers who share offices with Elliott, said Tuesday that ''everyone's in shock.''

''It's really horrible that this kind of thing can happen,'' he said. ''Jeanne worked really hard on behalf of all women's rights issues, including battered women and child rights.''

Aurora is a suburb of Denver with a population of about 350,000.

Posted by: anonymous on November 9, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Contrast with this story from Florida a few months later. The cop argued that the security measures deemed good enough for the peasants was not good enough for a member of the nobility, such as himself. I remember a similar incident in Colorado in 1988 -- cops refused to disarm in the court room -- I'll see if I can find the story.

Officer Forced To Remove Gun While In Court

April 23, 1986 | By Katie Springer, Staff Writer

A Fort Lauderdale police officer reluctantly gave up his gun to testify in a murder trial Tuesday after the judge threatened to throw him in jail for disobeying his order to disarm.

``You can be the boss on the street, but when I`m in this courtroom I`m the presiding officer,`` Broward Circuit Judge Arthur Franza yelled at Officer Michael Martin. ``I gave you a direct order.``

Martin stuck to his guns, refusing to surrender his 9-mm automatic weapon until he had spoken to his supervisors.

``I`m a police officer in the city of Fort Lauderdale, and I`m authorized to carry this weapon. I`m well trained to use this weapon,`` he told an irate Franza.

A few hours and many consultations later, Martin`s supervisor told him to surrender his gun so he could testify in the James Doyle murder trial. They would protest Franza`s policy later, he told the officer.

``We disagree in principal with this order,`` said Capt. Mike Doran, District 1 commander. ``However, his testimony is necessary for this case. We feel it`s in the public interest for him to testify.``

Martin was the first officer to arrive at the site where William Alderdice was stabbed to death in November 1984. Doyle worked as a bodyguard for William and James Alderdice, founders of the now- bankrupt International Gold Bullion Exchange, which allegedly bilked thousands of people out of at least $70 million.

When Martin refused to obey Franza`s order, the judge got on the phone with Police Chief Ron Cochran.

``I have all kinds of security. I have a policy that nobody comes into my courtroom with a weapon. In about two minutes I`m going to find him in contempt of court and I`m going to throw him in jail and remove his weapon,`` he informed the chief.

Cochran called Doran, who went to the courthouse to discuss the matter with Martin.

Franza is one of only a few judges who require testifying police officers to remove their weapons before they enter the courtroom. Circuit Judge Stanton Kaplan requires that they remove their weapons only if the defendant already is in custody.

Martin, 34, a seven-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale police force, said he did not think it was proper to disarm a police officer when no one else is searched before entering the courtroom.

``I`d much rather be held in contempt of court than be injured or killed in an unsafe courtroom,`` he said outside the courtroom.

But Martin`s argument didn`t sit well with Franza, who refused to let him testify until he disarmed.

``Who do you think you are, 007? See those people there? They`re security, not you,`` he said, referring to the plainclothes sheriff`s deputies who guard the courtroom.

Franza said he was concerned that someone -- possibly the defendant -- could reach out and grab the officer`s gun when he walked up to the stand to testify.

Franza has been outspoken in his opposition to guns in the courtroom since a woman, furious over a verdict, shot her former boss while in his courtroom nine years ago.

But many police officers think his policy is unfair, since anyone else can walk into a courtroom without being searched.

Cochran said Tuesday he would ask Broward Chief Judge Miette Burnstein to set a uniform policy for testifying police officers.

``If some wacko is in that courtroom, he could have a concealed weapon and his likely target is going to be a police officer, especially when he knows that officer is unarmed,`` Cochran said.

Posted by: anonymous on November 9, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Here's a story from Illinois, in 1991, of police officers protesting a ban on their guns in court. Judges had been lobbying for a ban after a police officer shot a judge and lawyer to death in 1983 in the court house. Note how the police officers insult the sheriff's deputies responsible for court house security.

Courthouse Gun Ban Protested

Police Chiefs Argue Order Compromises Officers` Safety
Chicago Tribune
August 06, 1991 | By Ronald Koziol.

An order prohibiting police from carrying guns in the Bridgeview courthouse has touched off concerns among southwest suburban police chiefs, who charged Monday that their officers` safety could be compromised.

``I don`t see the need to disarm officers in the courtroom,`` said Palos Hills Chief Sam Nelson, who is president of the 5th District Police Chiefs Association. ``One of our main objectives is the police officers` safety in the courtroom.``

Nelson`s organization includes the heads of 31 police departments that regularly use the Circuit Court branch at 10220 S. 76th Ave., in Bridgeview.

But Presiding Judge Anthony Montelione, who issued the order effective July 1, takes a different view. ``I can understand their concern, but there was a lot of thought given to this matter,`` said Montelione. He said 15 of the court`s 17 judges voted in favor of the gun ban.

The judges apparently were worried about the possibility of shooting incidents, so they decided to limit the number of guns in the courtroom, Montelione said. ``The judges also believe that security is more than adequate with sheriff`s deputies in the courtroom,`` he said.

The deputies are now the only ones permitted to carry weapons all the time in the courthouse. Bridgeview police may carry guns if answering a call there.

Nelson said that in case of a courtroom disturbance, some deputies would be ineffective because of a ``lack of training that a street officer would certainly have.``

In October 1983, Judge Henry Gentile and a lawyer in his Daley Center courtroom were shot to death by a former Chicago police officer confined to a wheelchair. The incident led to increased security measures in Cook County courthouses, including the installation of metal detectors to screen everyone entering.

Montelione said the judges had been favoring a gun ban for police officers for some time, but it was only recently that gun lockers were installed in the building so the weapons could be checked.

``We met with the police chiefs and they told us they wanted a policy statement, so the vote was taken and I issued the order,`` Montelione said.

Police commonly carry guns at the main Criminal Courts in Chicago and may do so in the Markham courthouse. They do not carry guns at the courthouses in Maywood, Skokie or Rolling Meadows.

Nelson said police must check their guns in the Bridgeview courthouse basement even if they are not going to a courtroom to testify.

He said some officers have even been ridiculed by defendants when judges told them to check their guns. ``It`s somewhat demeaning,`` he said.

The police chiefs group plans to take its complaints to Chief Judge Harry Comerford, although some chiefs are privately telling their officers to appear at the courthouse in civilian clothes without guns and to let the deputies handle any problems in the courtroom.

Montelione said that although there are no plans to rescind the order, it could be modified later.

Posted by: anonymous on November 9, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Discussion thread at Officer.com about courts that require police officers to disarm. Rules -- and reactions -- vary around the country.


Posted by: anonymous on November 9, 2013 at 1:49 PM

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