It was a morning like any other. My court reporter happily waved us into her office for some cake she’d made the night before, I poured myself a mug of coffee sweetened with half a teaspoon of sugar and lightened with soy milk, and returned to the courtroom. My new bailiff was unfolding some clothes that some friend or relatives of the defendant had left for the defendant’s use in our murder trial. The defendant’s attorney, a public defender, was setting his trial documents on counsel table while telling me he was going to be in another department for the next 10 minutes. And that was when the morning turned.

From my bailiff’s desk came a crinkle sound. The public defender suddenly froze and turned and looked at my bailiff, who had her hands on the waistband of the defendant’s trousers in her routine clothing search. She slapped on latex gloves and ripped the waistband open. Some conversation ensued that I wasn’t listening to, because at this time my naive self did not realize the magnitude of what had just been uncovered. The public defender was tracing the origin of the clothes aloud; they had come from the defendant’s mother yesterday and were handed to him; he had then placed them on a side table in by the bailiff’s desk. There was a gentleman who had urgently tried to get the public defender’s attention in the afternoon, and he had brought the clothes, and had handed them to the defendant’s mother. “That’s why I usually don’t ask them to bring clothes, cuz then THIS happens,” the public defender was griping.
“WHAT happens?” I asked, finally interested.
“Heroin in the clothes,” my bailiff answered.
“WHAT?! I’ve never seen real heroin before!” I said and leapt out of my desk toward hers. She unraveled the fabric of the inside waistband of the slacks and revealed a flat dark brown smear wrapped inside plastic wrap or cellophane. It resembled a molten piece of coffee candy pounded down. The placement of the piece was right inside a belt loop section of the waist, where you’d expect the fabric to be a bit bulker from the extra fabric stitched in. It was clear that they’d ironed the pants down there to smooth the heroin bulge. There was likely more heroin packs all along the waistband, too. My bailiff packaged the clothing and took it down to her sergeant.

“I really just don’t need this right now,” the public defender shook his head. “Now I’m part of a drug investigation.” A few other bailiffs popped their heads in and asked what’s going on in our department, and whether we needed back-up. I explained my bailiff’s findings. Turned out they’d just covered this issue in their briefing this morning, because as recently as yesterday, another bailiff in the building had found dope hidden in the trousers of HIS criminal trial defendant. The mother who’d brought the clothes for that defendant was taken into custody. “I’ve HEARD of things like this happening like an urban legend, but I’ve never SEEN it,” the public defender was saying.

I’d personally never been that close to real drugs before (that I know of), so it was new to me, too.

This job’s a trip.