Lee Berlin, Oklahoma's only private attorney that dedicates his entire practice to those individuals charged with Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence, explains what the process is once you get to your first arraingment AFTER Bonding out.
Frequently asked question. If you've just bonded out of jail and got arrested, that sucks. You were able to bond out. That's awesome. You're no longer in custody, but you've been given a date to come back to court, and you hadn't come in to see me yet. You're going to, but that court date just happens before when you're able to come in and see me. So what the heck happens at that first arraignment date when you're out of custody? Okay.
So if we're in Tulsa County, you're going to go to the Tulsa County courthouse, big courthouse, nine floors at the corner of 6th and Denver. You're going to go in that building there on the first floor. You're going to make your way to courtroom 173. Easy to find. It's all the way down next to the sheriff's office inside the courthouse itself. Inside the courthouse, they have a little sheriff's satellite office there, and it's right across catty-corner from Room 173.
So you're going to go to room 173. If the doors are open, okay, down here at the bottom, I want you to go in that door. Here we've got a whole bunch of rows, just like pews at church. Go in and get a seat, preferably up here towards the front if it's available, and scoot all the way over. A lot of times, and now this is pre COVID-19, this courtroom would be packed, well over 100 individuals at a time in this courtroom. We think there's going to be some significant changes with how all that takes place, and so a lot of the information I'm giving you right now is just what happened pre COVID-19.
So you go in room 173. I'd ask you to leave your family and your loved ones out in the hall or don't even bring them into court on an arraignment date. So what'll happen is you'll take a seat here. Up at the front will be the judge, and there's going to be two tables up here. Then this is where, you see the little jury area is where they would sit. Then there are some benches over here. Don't sit here. There will be signs that tell you don't sit there. It's for court staff only. But you're going to be tempted to anyway. Don't do it because the deputy will come and order you to not sit there.
The other thing is, gentlemen, ladies, don't wear sunglasses in the courtroom and don't wear hats in the courtroom. You will be ordered to take it off. Also, turn your cell phones off. Turn them off before you go in there. Don't put them on vibrate. Don't put them on do not disturb. Turn them off completely. Don't chew any gum. Don't eat. Don't drink anything there in the courtroom.
So you're going to go in there and take a seat. Now, a lot of times, what you're going to see is, at the beginning of this when the judge walks in, the judge will give a little kind of orientation to everyone. Here's what's going to happen today and explain to folks what you're to do and what you're not to do. A lot of that, don't chew gum, don't eat, turn off your cell phones, stuff will be covered.
The lawyers, myself included, all the private attorneys, will start to form up over here on the right side of the room towards the front. There's a little door over here that takes us to where the court clerks operate. That's where we're going to be back here most of the time getting someone information before the arraignment docket starts.
We'll pop out here. If you're my client, I pop out here and I'm going to survey that courtroom. Once I see you, I'm going to make eye contact with and point at you, and I'm going to get in line right here. The attorneys will come up here one at a time, and they'll make an announcement to the judge. I will say “Judge, I've got number 38 on the docket. I've got Mr. Joe Smith. Mr. Smith, please stand up.”
So if you're my client, you're seated here. You don't need to come forward. You don't need to say a word. All you're going to do is just physically stand up. Judge, you're going to see Mr. Smith. He's located there in the third row in the navy blue suit. Judge, I'm going to go ahead and waive the reading. What that does is it tells the judge, judge, don't read this guy his charges, okay, to everyone here in the courtroom. Because a lot of times there are some ugly charges that we have to deal with.
Let's waive the reading, and I'm going to do one of a couple of things. I'm either going to pass the arraignment, and there's some reasons why we would do that, we'll talk about that when you come in. Or we're going to set the matter either for, if it's a misdemeanor, the sounding docket, or if it's a felony, for a preliminary hearing. Then the judge will tell us when and where to go.
So if my decision is to pass the arraignment, 30 days, the judge will just tell you, all right, sir, come back in 30 days on such and such date. Stay in touch with your attorney. Then you'll go ahead and head on out this door. I usually come out through here, and I'll meet you out in the hallway. I'll give you a little business card, and on the back of that business card it'll have your return date, and the courtroom number. Even though you're already there, it'll have the courtroom number and your return date.
Now, if we're going to go ahead and set it for preliminary hearing instead, that next step in the process, what we will do afterwards is you'll still go out the courtroom door. You'll wait for me. I'll give you that business card. Then what I'm going to do is I'm going to physically walk you to the third floor to where the next court date will be. So, when you show up in court next time, you're not going to be confused. Where's room 347? Do I take the elevator? Do I take the escalator? Do I take the stairs? Where do I park? You don't have to worry about that because you're going to walk outside the courtroom, and then I am personally going to walk you to where you will go next time. I'm going to take you the courtroom, and I'm going to show you where in the courtroom to sit. Thereby relieving that anxiety and that stress from you in that first setting and then hopefully for that following setting.
After that, you'll be free to go. This entire process, on a typically efficient day, from 9:00 to maybe 9:15 at the latest. If I've got to show you where the courtroom is, add an extra five, 10 minutes onto that. So, think about that when you're making parking plans at the courthouse. Don't go and pay for an entire day, 10 bucks, for parking if you're only going to be there for 30 or 45 minutes.