Given that nothing has really caught my attention in the legal realm, that must mean it’s time for another edition of “Important Safety Tips.”

The ongoing collection — and sometimes repetition — of things you may or may not know about the law, but which can certainly make your life easier when interacting with the legal system and the court.

Mom? Dad? Got kids? Of course you do; otherwise I wouldn’t be referring to you as “Mom” and “Dad.” I don’t know if they still have it on TV, but when I was growing up there used to be a nightly Public Service Announcement that would ask, “Do you know where your children are?” More importantly for our discussion here, do you know what they are doing? Why is this important? Simple — because city ordinance allows parents to be cited and, if convicted, fined for not supervising their children. And what is the basis for that lack of supervision? Pretty much any time one of the kids goes out and breaks a law.

“My child would NEVER do that!” you exclaim? Really? How about, for instance, we take a quick look at his bicycle. Got lights? There are no end of children pedaling bicycles on the streets here, after dark, without so much as a reflector on their wheel spokes. Must be some Kool Kid thing, I guess. Still, no lights on bicycle, could be parent liability, with the fine topping out at $2,000. Seems that some investment and instruction might be in order, eh?

Speaking of Kool Kids on bicycles, a quick hat tip to the officer who observed the juvenile who thought it would be fun to ride his (lightless) bicycle out into the middle of the street without stopping. I do not know who it was, but I’m guessing the youth got a good chewing out for his antics, and that the discussion likely included reference to how it was even less thoughtful to do that kind of idiocy in front of the judge walking down the street.

Another area to be addressed by the thoughtful parent who might want to keep more of his own money in pocket would be in regard to pedestrian and criminal mischief laws, specifically, pedestrian laws as not observed by the local high school students.

Those of you who have high schoolers lacking in common courtesy, such that they think it’s funny to create problems for vehicles trying to get through First and Highland mid afternoon — well, an ounce of prevention now might be worth a pound of cure later. Things like “theft” and “graffiti” avoidance go without saying — as does the ongoing “minor in possession of alcohol.” Or drugs. Been into your kids’ rooms lately? Checked backpacks? Asked about who they’re hanging out with? Might be a money-saver for you downstream to do so now.

Finally, just to close out with something that’s not really legal nor juvenile-related, when you’re contacting a court, make sure that you actually speak to someone.

Leaving messages may work for your mah jongg partners, but when it comes to sorting out legal issues it can really make a difference to actually make person-to-person contact. I’d also add that while it’s not a requirement, I haven’t seen anything that suggests there’s a Judge Concern in the State of Oregon, so you might want to, when writing to a court, take a moment to find out what the name is of the judge to whom you’re writing. Will “To Whom It May Concern” work against you? Likely not, but it does show, again, some courtesy. Courts don’t generally send out letters saying, “Dear Defendant” — you probably should return the courtesy.

Once again, Courtside is in recess, but questions about court and court procedures, to hermistoncourtside@gmail.com, are always in order.

— Thomas Creasing is a municipal court judge and Herald columnist

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