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Harris County Civil Court Observation

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Court Observation Assignment

On March 8, 2017, Channel 20 on Direct TV at 1;30 pm there was an episode of Judge Judy. It started by having the bailiff ask the audience to stand before the judge comes in. After Judge Judy comes in she tells the audience to take a seat. After that the defendant  Silvio Bellini is introduced and the plaintiff Ora Knowell. In that moment Knowell tells the judge that the defendant is not the correct person and that she has never seen that person in her life, this makes the audience gasp in surprise. The Judge asks to see the plaintiffs ID, which is given to her by the bailiff she double checks and concluded that there is nothing wrong and proceeds. Mr. Bellini is the current owner of a house where the plaintiff used to live in. Knowell is accusing Bellini of harassment and emotional distress and expects to recevied 5,000 dollars in this damages. The defendant bought the foreclosed house from the bank where he is currently live in on January 21, 2009, for 70,000 dollars. After that, the plaintiff accuses Mr. Bellini of being a con artist and has targeted her family as a result has suffered emotional distress. The defendant nods his head in disbelief and says that she's lying and the one doing the harassment is her. He even had to get two restraining orders against Ms. Knowell. At that moment both the audience and the judge become surprised. You could see the audience talking amongst them. To end the case Judge Judy  in a angry voice tells the plaintiff that she has to leave him alone and the verdict that the defendant is innocent. In this case, I agree with the judge the defendant had everything in rule and had paperwork to prove it. I believe that with the restraining orders that the defendant had placed against the plaintiff help him win the case. On the same day, I saw an episode of "The People's Court" on Channel 39 at 11 am. In this episode, the plaintiff is suing the defendant Hannah Kesak for 120 dollars. He was hired to do a wine & paint party were he would receive 200 dollars upfront and would charge 10 dollars per person. The defendant Hanah Kesak says that she paid the 200 dollars but did not agree to pay the 10 dollars person. After both parties have given their opening statements the Judge addresses the plaintiff and ask him if he has any proof of their accordance. His only evidence he provided were the text messages interchanged through Facebook. The Judge verdict is that the defendant is not guilty. I agree with the Judge since there was no written agreement or any type of contract there is no evidence that the defendant still owes the plaintiff any money. Even though the plaintiff has messages and a receipt of payment through PayPal.

For my live court observation, I chose to visit the  Harris County Civil Court (Civil Court #3 ), which is located at 201 Caroline St, Houston TX 77002. The date of my visit was March 20 and I was there from 8:20 am until 10:45 am. As I entered the building  I was approach by a security guard and had to go through a security checkpoint I had to remove my shoes and other things that could set off the security alarm. After going through that I entered the courtroom and was surprised to see that the courtroom was much smaller than I had expected.  I choose to sit at the back of the courtroom so I could see everything better. Inside, was the judge's assistant, the bailiff and a reporter who just seem present mostly to listen. I was expecting to see judge Linda Storey, but she was not present they had Judge Walbrodge who was there as a visiting judge. When he came in he started talking about his weekend I could tell he had a funny sense of humor, I think he was trying to loosen the tense atmosphere for those that were present for a case. He then started calling cases by number one by on. There was a case were 5 children were involved in a car accident on May 25, 2015. Of the 5 children, only one was severely injured and suffered an injury to his arm and leg.  Since the children are under age their parents represented them. The defendant Claudia Gonzalez was represented by attorney White and the plaintiff Maria Echeverria by attorney Robbins this was different from a TV proceeding where there were no attorneys. This case didn’t go through any fault accusation both parties wanted to work together from the beginning. So after the judge read the medical bill amounts for each child both parties decided to a minor settlement where each child would receive their compensation when they reach the age of 18. I could see that both parties were pleased with the outcome and wanted the best for the children. The second case was an eviction one for Villanueva Apartments vs. Melinda Campbell. In this case, the defendant represented by attorney Dominguez since January 2017 owed two payments of $705 a total of $1410. In disagrience, Ms. Kembell who didn't have an attorney representing her said that even though she did not pay the rent on January 1st she paid on January 14 including the late charges. According to the notice to vacate was given to her on January 18 it was wrong for her. The defendant who gave a notice of eviction on January 18 said that even though she was late she did not pay the full amount and has been late every month since November of last year. To close the case the judge gave the plaintiff until April 15 to pay what she owed. In my opinion, I believe that the judge sympathizes with the plaintiff and shouldn't have given her any time to pay since she's been late in the past. I was a little bit uncomfortable with Ms.Kembell attitude, not just me I could tell that the audience in the courtroom felt the same way. Throughout the case, she was being rude to the defendant and in several occasions interrupted the judge when he was talking. She even demanded to be given 60 days to pay when the judge ask her how long did she need. Since she was late that meant she breach her contract and had no reason to demand more time.



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