I had never been to court before, so I did not know what to expect.
Background: car accident in December. In Illinois, one driver nearly always gets a ticket -- had everyone been driving legally there would be no accident, right? I got to be the defendant. License taken by cop. Three choices: plead guilty; plead guilty but opt for traffic school and record stays clean; plead guilty and get a date in court (and risk getting a blot on your record).
I really expected something Dickensian: intimidation and degradation and (in my imagination) a stint on a stinking brig.
Reality is nothing like that: suburban court facility -- remember, this is Cook County, a rich county in a rich country. Yes, it is cold and impersonal, but there are signs giving directions on the roads and there's a parking garage and there's enough room for everyone.
The judge was great. She was relaxed, with the air of a school teacher disappointed at pupils that had not done their homework.
Justice was dispensed, swiftly but it seemed fairly. After a short while the judge called my name (not quite correctly, but then who argues with a judge?), established that no witness to the accident was present and dismissed the case. I (finally!) got my license back. Next time I will definitely pay $75 up front for the privilege of keeping it. You don't realize how much you use it until you can't.
I have to say though, it worked well and (believe it or not) the experience brightened my day.