A Judge's Christmas

In addition to presiding as an Initial Appearance commissioner, Alan LoBue is also a part-time judge at City Court, which is in session 365 days a year. So, LoBue spent his Christmas morning in the basement of the Madison Street Jail with 27 defendants, listening to holiday tales whose themes may be summed up by the three B's: booze, brawling and blues.


Johnny got hot at Sky Harbor Airport after an airline lost his luggage and wound up getting arrested for disturbing the peace.

"I want to plead innocent," he tells the judge, gesturing with both hands. A Phoenix police report lists Johnny's victim as "Patrons of Sky Harbor."

"He was screaming `Fuck Christmas! Fuck the holidays!'" the report says.

The long-faced man is charged with punching his girlfriend on Christmas Eve.

"It was an altercation," the man explains contritely.
"It sure was an altercation," the judge responds. "$206 or eight days."
"Can I have the time to get the money up?"
"No. Pay up or do the time."

The police responded to their home at midnight, just as Santa was supposed to drop down the chimney.


The bulky gent with a crewcut was arrested for disorderly conduct after he went wild at his mother's home. He couldn't stand another holiday with his in-laws.

"I told my sister-in-law I'd kill myself if they didn't leave me alone," he tells LoBue. "They come in from Chicago for Christmas every year and they don't leave me alone."


"You're not supposed to be fighting on Christmas," LoBue tells a middle- aged man. "You're not going to be fighting with your girlfriend anymore, right?"

The man corrects the judge: "That was my daughter, Your Honor."


A balding 27-year-old charged with shoplifting tells the judge, "They said if I'd plead guilty, that you'd just fine me."

"You got the roles reversed," LoBue snaps at the petty thief, who has listed his profession as "stock investor." "I'm the one who says who gets what."

The judge orders a mental examination for the man. It's not clear if he's ordered the test because of the defendant's impertinence or because he stole a Hostess Snowball.


Ralph never shows up for court when he's supposed to. He's here now only because the cops busted him on Christmas Eve for again driving on a suspended license. LoBue won't let him out of jail unless he forks over a hefty bond.

"If I release you on Christmas, sir, it's adios muchacho until you get caught again," the judge says. "If I were you, I'd plead not guilty and get a court date. There is no Santa Claus, sir."


Yes, ladies, there is a Santa Claus. Today's crop of defendants doesn't include any prostitutes. That doesn't surprise Judge LoBue. "The cops are usually nice to the hookers on Christmas Eve," he says.


"Looks like you got the worst of this deal," LoBue tells a fellow with a gashed forehead who says he fought with another man "over money." "Are you going to go home and have a nice dinner?" the judge asks, as the man's bloodied head feebly wobbles. "Does that nod mean yes? Well, Feliz Navidad."

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin