By Phyllis J. Lubin

I’m back at 16 Cooper Street in Hempstead waiting for my turn before the prosecutor at traffic court. There is something about this room that sparks my interest. I enjoy hearing the various stories that are told to the prosecutors, and usually the interactions are innocent enough . . . until this morning:

“I am completely not guilty,” this threatening-looking man said emphatically to the prosecutor when his name was called.

What does that mean “completely not guilty”–as opposed to the partially not guilty people out there?

“Well, you are here for a violation you received in 2010, and your license is about to be suspended unless you pay the fine,” the prosecutor meekly advised.

“I did not do anything at all. This is all a scam!”

From nowhere an armed officer appears.

“Can you please escort this man to the cashier? That’s where he should be.”

Thank goodness the man left the courtroom quietly enough (although I still heard him complaining to the officer from the hallway).

Next case:

“Well, your proof of insurance ends in 2010, but you were driving your car around in 2013. Do you have another letter in your car?”

“No. But I do have insurance now.”

“But your letter–your ‘proof’–unfortunately doesn’t say so. Do you want more time to get a letter?”

“How about this letter?” the defendant asked as he pulled another letter out of his folder.

“No. I’m sorry; this is for a Honda Accord and you were not driving that type of car when you received the tickets. Any more letters in your folder?”

“No. Not with me.”

“So, do you want more time to look for a good letter? I’ll give you until May 6 and we can discuss all your other tickets then.”

Next case:

“Sir, do you have a license?” the prosecutor asked the defendant.

The defendant stood blankly and did not answer.

“So, the short answer to my question is that you don’t have a license. Therefore you cannot drive.”

That seems obvious, but if you eavesdrop in court you will see that that is not so obvious for many people that walk through these doors. As this prosecutor was finishing up with this young man, just a few stands away another prosecutor was having another conversation that seemed quite similar:

“How old are you?”


“So you were driving without a license?”

“I have a permit.”

“A permit gives you the right to practice driving in Nassau County with a licensed driver. Were you with a licensed driver when you received the ticket?”

“No, but I have my road test tomorrow.”

Are you kidding me? I can’t believe my ears here sometimes. I’m telling you–this is much more entertaining than television!

Speaking of entertainment, we just saw the Broadway show Wicked. This was no ordinary show–as the commercial aptly describes, this will change your entire view of the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz!

Not only was this show special because of its storyline. The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies. I am dating myself, but I used to listen to the record of this movie countless times when I was growing up. A record is how we of the older generation used to listen to music and in this case an entire show. On occasion I would get to stay up to watch a special showing of the movie on television, but my fondest memories are of listening to the movie in the living room while my dad had a roaring fire burning in the fireplace.

My father is an old-time radio buff and he would often have family evenings where he would entertain my mom, me, and my brother with records (and yes, cassettes too) of his favorite radio shows. Our imaginations soared as we listened to the comedy routines of George Burns and his delightful wife and sidekick Gracie. My dad opened up a world that forced us to visualize what we were listening to. At one point in my youth there was even a throwback to those radio days with a radio show called Mystery Theater. I remember looking forward to those shows as if it were yesterday.

We didn’t always rely on records and radio for our family entertainment time. My dad would often entertain us with his imitation of the old-time radio shows. Who knows this one: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man? The Shadow knows . . . Ha, ha, ha, ha!”

I have digressed–back to my Wicked show: What was so special about this show besides the plot? It was a unique theater experience offering an opportunity to a special group of theatergoers and their families: the Theatre Development Fund (TDF) has a relatively new program, the Autism Theatre Initiative.

In order to be autism-friendly, the show is being performed in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism-spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. Slight adjustments to the production include reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theater lobby there are staffed quiet areas, if any of the attendees need to leave their seats during the performance.

The best part of this particular show offering (besides the cheaper prices, which always entice me) was the understanding environment. No one flinched much when audience members made otherwise inappropriate noises; no one cared when a child snacked on a bag of chips (I think Yussie must have consumed at least five bags of chips throughout the show); and there were volunteers on hand in the lobby with show-related toys for the theatergoers who just needed a break at times from sitting in their seats.

I am so thankful we had this opportunity to see Wicked with such an amazing group of people!

Uh, oh–my name has just been called. Wish me (or rather my client) luck! My time at this particular show is coming to an end, with another appearance real soon. v

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children–Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea–and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at

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