Partygoers appear in municipal court
One by one the young party-goers came before Fargo Municipal Court Judge Tom Davies Wednesday. And one by one they heard Davies' exhortations -- by turns comic and stern, but always impassioned -- to mend their ways. "You're bright people. Quit t...
One by one the young party-goers came before Fargo Municipal Court Judge Tom Davies Wednesday.
And one by one they heard Davies' exhortations -- by turns comic and stern, but always impassioned -- to mend their ways.
"You're bright people. Quit taking stupid pills," he said.
Seventy people cited in connection with a loud party Feb. 22 in north Fargo appeared in Davies' court Wednesday.
The downtown Fargo courtroom seats only about 70, so the court had to alter its normal routine.
It began its afternoon session at 1 p.m., 15 minutes earlier than usual.
Most of the seats were filled by party-goers waiting for their day in court. Defendants in cases unrelated to the Feb. 22 party occupied the rest.
For the first hour, Davies dealt with the other cases. As seats opened in the courtroom, party-goers waiting outside were allowed in.
At 2 p.m., with the other cases out of the way, Davies shifted his attention to the 70 party-goers filling the courtroom.
He began by stressing the importance of understanding their legal rights.
Then he launched into a 10-minute group lecture on the foolishness of the Feb. 22 party, at which 113 people were cited and which took nearly a dozen police officers to control.
"I know what you did was wrong. You know what you did was wrong," he said.
Trouble is, he said, too many young people take stupid pills that lead to bad decisions, usually late at night.
And woe to any defendant who might claim they were at the party because "there was nothing else to do," Davies said.
"If I hear that, I'll stick it where the sun doesn't shine," he said.
Davies said his lecture probably would be ignored by most of the party-goers, but the effort was valuable if even one young person listens.
With that, Davies began dealing with each case individually.
It worked like this:
Fargo City Prosecutor Kara Schmitz Olson would call out the name of a single party-goer, who came to stand before Davies as Olson handed him that defendant's case file.
Davies then asked each defendant a few questions such as, "Would you want a party like that near your parents' house?" and "Did you see under-aged drinking at the party?"
Most of the party-goers -- who had little to say to Davies and even less to news media attending the court session -- answered with a perfunctory "yes" or "no."
Davies then passed sentence and moved on to the next defendant.
Fifty-nine of the 70 pleaded guilty. Most of the 59 received a $100 fine.
The other 11, who will contest the charge, will return to court later, Olson said.
Davies finished the last loud party case around 3:15, which he said would allow him to get home to watch "The West Wing" on television Wednesday night.
Davies has dealt with large groups of cited party-goers before, so Wednesday's session wasn't necessarily a record for him.
"But this is probably pretty close to the top of the list," he said.
About 20 of the 113 Feb. 22 party-goers appeared in Davies' court Tuesday. Another 25 appear today.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530