One of the
safest places to work in Ventura County is at the Hall of Justice.
the courthouse is provided by dozens of professionals who work at the Sheriff's
Department, many of them are assigned as courtroom bailiffs like Deputy Ramirez
on the first floor in Courtroom 12.
afternoons, he plays music and on Wednesday, Andrea Bocelli's tenor lungs
filled the air.
It serves a
Ramirez's music is played loud enough to allow attorneys some privacy when they
talk to the jailed inmates who are inside a detention
cell that is in close proximity to the
Some of the
music also seems to have a calming effect on the dozens of people waiting for the judge to take the bench.
Courtroom 22, Deputy Plassymeyer will give you the capital of any state. A few
weeks ago, I stumped him, however, with Alabama. The capital is Montgomery.
Ramirez, Alvarez, Frates, Veloz, McLaughlin, Plassymeyer and Tumbleson are a
few example of textbook professionalism. There are so many others.
the deputies come running into a courtroom or the hallway within a minute or so
to handle a situation that got out of hand.
courthouse incidents are few and far between. In a place where emotions often run high and
several hundred inmates are bused there daily, much of the credit for
maintaining the peace belongs to the deputies.
sometimes simply knowing how to defuse a potentially explosive situation
before it gets out of hand.
doubt, there are bad cops. There are also bad journalists, doctors, lawyers,
priests, pastors and rabbis.
But I know
that Sheriff Dean won't tolerate unprofessionalism among his ranks.
another side I sometimes get to see.
walking over to hand a box of Kleenex tissues to tearful families of crime
victims and even relatives of defendants.
matter hurt is hurt.
during a jury recess on Tuesday, I was in a courtroom.
A deputy and
I were the only ones in the courtroom. It
was quiet. He was near the bench, but I could still hear him talk to someone
about his dog, "Hendrix." The animal was
in so much pain, and the deputy was going to have to make the decision on whether to
put down the animal.
handle the pain," the deputy told the person on the other end of the phone. "We
can cremate him but what's the point?"
walked over and stood a couple of feet from a wall of large crime scene
photographs, evidence being used in an aggravated assault trial. He quietly
wept, wiping his eyes with Kleenex tissues. For a while, he said nothing while facing the
photographs with his back still toward me.
"I'm sorry. It's just tough man," the
red-eyed deputy told the bailiff who had entered the courtroom and found out about Hendrix.
The deputy who is 6-foot-plus and muscular said his dog, "Hendrix," is13 years old, and Hendrix is an old dog
but he's family.
I told the deputy about an old cockatiel I found on top of my apartment roof more than
five years ago. I didn't want the bird. I took out a newspaper ad and called
the Humane Society. No response. I then
planned to drop off the bird at the bird sanctuary in Summerland.
is my buddy and he's family too. I named
the bird "Pretty Bird." It was the name I gave him when I first saw him up on
the roof. I told the deputy that when my
bird is no more it's going to bust me up inside.
The deputy told
me that he went to another veterinarian and got a second opinion. The deputy
was happy. Hendrix, it turns out, has a bad case of arthritis and a
prescription for drugs was written.
still has a many more years left, he said with a calm smile.
afternoon, Deputy Plassmeyer knew the capital of Florida. In Courtroom 12, Deputy Ramirez was playing
oldies - Sweet.