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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Augusta County General District Court: Where Telephones Are Optional, But Your Appearance Isn't




Written by: Sam Orlando


AUGUSTA COUNTY, VIRGINIA - In a twist of irony that could only unfold in the hallowed corridors of justice, the Augusta County General District Court, a bastion of law and order where minor missteps like failing to show up can land you a cozy cell, is now itself grappling with a technological misdemeanor: broken telephones.


On an ordinary day, the court's phones are as vital as a gavel in a judge's hand. But as of now, they're as silent as the courtroom when the judge says, "Order." According to a public service announcement - generously shared by Sheriff Donald L. Smith, who seems to be moonlighting as a makeshift telecom troubleshooter - the court's landlines are down. And not just for a quick recess, but potentially until Friday, February 2, 2024.


The Sheriff's Office, in what can only be described as an epitome of community service, relayed that the beleaguered citizens can email the court at augustagd@vacourts.gov. It's a modern solution for a modern problem, except when one considers that not everyone may have access to email, or the know-how to use it.


But here's where the plot thickens - and not in a good, Agatha Christie kind of way. In Virginia, the General District Courts are the Iron Thrones of misdemeanors and traffic infractions. Miss a court date here, and you might find yourself contemplating life's unfairness behind bars. Yet, there's no word from the court on whether they'll extend the same courtesy to defendants who might claim, "Sorry, Your Honor, I couldn't call. Your phones were down."


The timing of this telephonic turmoil is almost poetic. The news broke just after Breaking Through News requested a comment from the court. A coincidence? Perhaps. Or maybe the court's phones are protesting, seeking respite from the endless litany of misdials, wrong numbers, and the occasional legitimate inquiry.


Now, the citizens of Augusta County find themselves in a Kafkaesque scenario. The court, which insists on punctuality and presence, is now somewhat unreachable, ensconced in a digital fortress of one-way communication. It's an interesting role reversal, where the court, usually the one doing the summoning, is now the one a bit hard to reach.


In the end, it begs the question: Will the court be as understanding of a defendant's 'technological difficulties' as we are expected to be of theirs? Or is this a classic case of 'do as I say, not as I do'?


As of now, it remains unclear if 'the dog ate my email' will join 'the dog ate my homework' in the annals of believable excuses. One can only hope that the scales of justice balance themselves before someone tips the scales by missing a court date because they couldn't get through on the phone.


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