September 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 29, 2011

{ 7 comments }

1 Jim Collins 09.29.11 at 7:43 am

The library book post caught my attention. In 1991 an airline lost my luggage, that contained 3 library books. I waited a few days to see if they would find my bag, and then went to the library to explain what was going on. I offered to pay for the books, but, these were older books and couldn’t be replaced, so I was told to wait and see if the airline could find them. About three weeks later I get a registered letter from the local magistrate with a citation for misdemenor theft because of the library books. That same day I got a call from the airline telling me that they found my bag. I take the citation and the books to the library to see what is going on. The head librarion was shocked about the citation and called the magistrate’s office to tell them that there was a mistake and could they cancel the citation. The answer was that once a citation was issued that was it and I had to appear before the magistrate. The librarion and I went to the magistrate’s office and I pleaded “not guilty” and she testified on my behalf. I was found “guilty” and fined $230 plus $160 for costs. I had to pay. Later I found out what happened. The library had just installed a new computer system and when I was told to wait to see if the airline found my luggage a notation was made in the old ledger book that they tracked overdues with, but, not in the computer. After 45 days the computer generates a letter for the magistrate’s office. A volunteer was doing overdue mailings and mailed the letter with my name on it to the magistrate requesting that a citation be issued.

2 Hugo S. Cunningham 09.29.11 at 10:35 am

@jim collins:

The magistrate who ignored the librarian’s testimony to find you guilty sounds like a moron. Does your State have any provision for removing him from office? Or, in my sheltered world, have I failed to notice that such obtuseness is considered normal by our judical community?

3 John Burgess 09.29.11 at 10:50 am

My library has a system of charging either replacement value for new(ish) books or an average price for books of the sort, i.e., paperback, fiction, non-fiction, etc. In no case can the fine for overdue books exceed the replacement value.

Rare books are not loaned out, obviating the problem of trying to replace an invaluable, unique example.

I’ve definitely lost a few books in travel, so now only take out paperbacks when there’s a chance they’ll be lost.

4 Mark Biggar 09.29.11 at 10:55 am

Bill the airline.

5 Jim Collins 09.29.11 at 11:22 am

The magistrate was removed about a year later for taking payoffs for reducing DUI’s to reckless driving.

The airline told me that they were not responsible because they had found my luggage. If I would have paid for the books they would have reimbursed me.

6 Paul McKaskle 09.29.11 at 1:46 pm

In the mid-1960s when I was a deputy district attorney in Ventura CA I issued a misdemeanor arrest warrant at the request of the county library for someone who had failed to return books for many months. I don’t think he was ever apprehended, however. It did get a mention in the local newspaper, though.

7 wfjag 09.30.11 at 10:15 am

@Jim Collins
“The magistrate was removed about a year later for taking payoffs for reducing DUI’s to reckless driving.”

See? It you’d just returned the envelope with the small cash “fine”, you’d have saved yourself time and money. But, Noooooo!
You had to involve the nice lady behind the library’s front desk and plead “Not Guilty” and act like a smarty pants lawyer.

That’s what happens when you don’t sleep through Civics Class in High School. You think that all those rights have something to do with you. Instead of getting a job in the trades, you go to college and law school.

Next time, try the Chicago Way. Take Vito (or Bubba — although he tends to drool on the car seats when you’re driving to court), not the Librarian. And take a picture of the Magistrate’s kids, and not the letter from the airline saying they lost your bags. Then, when you’re asked to plead, you say “Nice family ya got there. Be a shame if sumthun was ta happen. By the way, you a memba of The Union?” That works much better than relying on law and evidence.

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