Overheard in the Courthouse

By: Gabriela Yareliz

It’s rainy. The kind of rain that makes all of my baby hair curl up. I am sitting in front of a judge I had stood next to at an intersection this morning. We both had the unpleasant realization that we were standing in the splash zone. A car went by that made puddle water go into the judge’s face. I saw him when he turned in horror. We didn’t make eye contact.

It was one of those mornings where one eats one’s breakfast under a scaffold. I walked into the court, and sat in the back of a room to submit an emergency motion on my tablet.

A man stepped up for his case and told the judge he was asking for more time to move. His voice broke. He mentioned he had a young son.

“Show me a picture,” the judge said. The officer and clerk exchanged glances. The judge gave them some side-eye. The officer stood up and took the man’s phone once he had settled on the photo he would show the judge.

“You took him to a concert?” the judge asked smiling. “No, your honor, it’s Peppa Pig,” the man said.

The judge allowed the opposing attorney to state her argument. He continued to look at the photo with the slightest smile.

“I know he doesn’t have defenses, so I know my hands are tied as to what I can do legally, but this is a man with a minor child. I can’t just put them on the street. It comes down to grace, you see,” the judge said to the attorney.

The man broke down sobbing. The judge told him that he admired what he was doing for his son, and that he needed to make his efforts and hold on a little longer. The man apologized for his loud sobs. “You don’t have to apologize,” the judge said. “I know you are under a lot of pressure and scared. Things will get better.” The judge suggested some resources.

He sent everyone to take a step back while he deliberated and wrote his decision. You could have heard a pin drop in there.

Sometimes, that’s all there is— grace. It comes down to grace. Grace is that magical thing that rescues us. It can hold us together when we are at our breaking point. It’s a gift. It’s more than enough. It overwhelms us.

It certainly comes down to grace.

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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