Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sweating before the judge to become who I am, Conclusion

[ Start with part 1 here ]

Once I found the Chase branch, things went pretty smoothly, so the rest of this story will be pretty fast.  The Chase people were easily able to print out my statement, and they were kind enough to xerox my driver's license.  I packed everything into my soggy manila envelope and trotted back through the steam to the courthouse. 

I was once again soaking wet when I got to 141 Livingston Street, which was good because Officer Dummkopf was on search duty and you know he would have busted my balls if the idea weren't so disgusting in this heat.   I went back up to the ninth floor, where the clerk handed me a piece of paper telling me to go to the third floor and pay $65.  After I paid, the third floor clerk gave me a piece of paper telling me to go back to the ninth floor. I figured this was finally where I'd be able to drop off the papers and go home.

The clerk made various stamps on my paperwork, stamped my receipt from the third floor, and then handed me a piece of paper telling me to go to the eleventh floor.  Ok, so maybe that was where I would finally be able to drop off my papers and go home. 

"Court convenes at 2:30, so you've got about five minutes before you see the judge."

See the judge???  "Why do I have to see the judge?"  I asked.  I figured that somehow I had been given the wrong paperwork, and instead of getting my name changed they were convicting me of a felony.  Stranger things have happened.

"You want your name changed, don't you?"  The typical bureaucratic passive-aggressive non-answer.

The building was very well climate controlled, so I was no longer soaked, though I was still damp.  "But the website didn't say I'd be meeting with the judge today!"  I could only imagine what kind of impression I would make.

The clerk rolled her eyes. "There is just so much wrong with that website. NEXT!"

True to form, the 2:30 court convened at 2:47.  The court officer took all our paperwork and made neat piles on his desk.  Then we waited.  And waited.  When you're in the court system, your time is theirs.   I could see the thunderstorms of a summer Friday afternoon through the courtroom windows.  Occasionally the court officer would call out a name.  People would shuffle or saunter up to the bench and inaudibly confer with the judge. Some people were there for small claims hearings, and the defendants sent or came with their lawyers. One of the lawyers looked exactly like the late Allen Funt of Candid Camera fame.  He might have been, for all I know.  The court officer occasionally would call the names of people who weren't there.  I wrote erotic stories on the back of the unused pages of my financial statement.

Finally at 4:17 the judge called my name.  Easiest way to suck up to a judge: stop about four feet away from the bench and wait for them to invite you to approach.  Judges just eat that stuff with a spoon.  In my statement I said I wanted to change my name in part because all my books and articles were bylined "Patrick DiJusto".  He asked if I wrote for the Park Slope Courier.  I said I didn't.  He smiled and said, "Oh well, now you will".  When the clerk handed me my papers I saw that that was where I had to place the legal notice of my name change.  Good, I thought.  No one will see it there.

I now have 60 days to get the legal notice printed and 90 days to return proof of the notice to the court.  As far as I'm concerned, however, my name now is legally Patrick DiJusto.

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