Extreme Akim ain't got nothin' on a mid-July court date on Folly Beach. By 9 a.m. last Friday morning, 150-some-odd defendants and witnesses lined up outside the city's courtroom, ready to face the decisive gavel of Judge John Kachmarsky. City Paper was there to cover the story of a surfer arrested after surfing at the pier, but his case was continued (We'll bring you that full story next week). So we stuck around for the proceedings, and found that the Edge of America is still chock full of salty (and mostly harmless) outlaws.
If disorderly conduct charges are given out on Folly like lollipops at the bank, open container citations roll in like disaster-area rations dropped from a plane. Most first-time offenders who show up at court get their fines reduced, and some even have their charges dropped. Multiple offenders weren't so lucky. And surprisingly, dressing nicely and speaking eloquently aren't necessarily going to help you.
Here are some notable cases heard last week. The names have been changed to protect the innocent (and guilty). Hopefully, recalling their stories will help keep you out of trouble the next time you down 17 shots of sweet tea vodka at a Center Street bar.
Anthony — charged with open container, resisting arrest, and littering
"You didn't have anything besides a tank top?" asks the arresting officer as Anthony, a cook at a local seafood restaurant, approaches the judge's stand in a black, sleeveless shirt, tattoos emblazoned on his arms. The officer testifies that he spotted the subject walking down Center Street with an open can of Mickey's, and that he then ran behind the ice machine next to Woody's Pizza before having to be "taken down by force with a Taser." Despite the electroshock therapy, Anthony was cited and released because the cops "were really busy that day." Judge Kachmarksy fined him $200 for each of the three charges, to be paid on Monday.
Dick — charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest, failure to change address, and lack of lamp or sounding device on bicycle
Dick's new in town and he doesn't have much money, he explains to the judge. Dressed in a sharp, black suit with a fit, attractive girl at his side, he tells of how he was pulled over "riding his bike home, trying to make it an early night." The shock of being stopped led him to argue and earn the resisting arrest charge. He requests a continuance and a public defender, and the judge explains that those in need of free representation can apply with an 'indigent' form. "How much money do you have in the bank?" asks the judge. "I'm not exactly sure," says Dick, to which the judge explains the rules of perjury. Dick collects $1,500 a month unemployment and has between $5,000 and $10,000 in the bank, after the fees for the house he just sold are assessed. "You're not indigent," says Judge Kachmarksy, "You're playing a game, and you need to be careful or it's going to take you down. Get a lawyer."
Alina, Veronika, Oksana — trespassing
"How do you plead?" asks the judge of the first of three Russian girls arrested for trespassing on the Folly Pier at night. No response. "Are you guilty or innocent?" he repeats. She nods her head. "Do you speak English?" he asks. Girl two steps in to help, and all three plead guilty. Good thing — their fines are reduced to $125 each, while the two male no-shows they were caught with get $440 apiece.
Martin — possession of fake driver's license, drug paraphernalia, public intoxication, underage possession of alcohol
If you're not yet 21 and you really screwed up, it doesn't hurt to bring mom when you go to court. Martin passed out in his car with incriminating evidence all around him. But it's hard to be publicly intoxicated if you're asleep, says the judge, so he lets that one go. $200 apiece on the others, and the judge grants mom's request for 60 days to pay so she doesn't have to fork it over herself.
Martin — possession of drug paraphernalia, simple marijuana possession
It was a bad week for Marty. This time he and a buddy were pulled over and caught with herb and empty beer cans. His friend pleads innocent to the weed charge, so the judge gives Martin, who has already pled guilty, the chance to take responsibility and spare his pal the misdemeanor. Martin hesitates and glances at mom. After an awkward exchange and another perjury explanation from the judge, Martin says it was all his. Buddy gets off, Martin gets two more $200 fines, and the "not-my-baby" mom storms out saying, "He's lying, he's lying," to the onlookers in the courtroom.
Pepper — disorderly conduct, failure to obey law enforcement
Pepper's already made everyone double-take when he shuffles into court in handcuffs and a striped jump suit after spending nine days in jail. He pleads innocent, and the judge offers him a bench or jury trial. "Which do you prefer?" asks Pepper, who the cops say frequently sleeps at the city park. The judge tells Pepper he's been in here "hundreds" of times, and wishes he'd stay out of trouble. This time, he was arrested on the pier, surrounded by a Styrofoam cooler of beer cans and dead crabs, and cursing around a family, all of which he denies. "Two times ago I let you go, and last time I saw you I gave you 60 days," says the judge. "This time I'm going to let you go, and we'll just take turns like that." "There is a God," says Pepper.
Susan — failure to pay parking tickets
Folly Beach's privately hired meter maids aren't very popular. Paid parking is still new to the beach, and people are slow to accept change that costs them money. Susan's one of those parking attendants, and she's in her uniform when she takes the stand for not paying two tickets that have compounded since being issued in January. Even the police hide a chuckle.
Dope, booze, and bad driving are the perfect ingredients for a free jailhouse brunch of a bologna sandwich and a fruit cup on Leeds Avenue. Dozens upon dozens of cases are heard each month on Folly Beach, the great majority with some relation to drunkenness.
Our advice: get a designated driver who can take you home when you start pinching married girls' asses. And if worse comes to worse and you get busted, show up to court. No officer or judge is going to show mercy to a name without a face.