The courtroom — Suffolk Superior Court, First Session — is open to the public. Anyone can walk in. But during the two days I sit there observing, I am the only disinterested onlooker. Everyone else is a court officer, or a lawyer, or a defendant, or a defendant’s mother, or weeping sister, or stony-faced girlfriend. What happens here happens in obscurity. For the most part these are not the high profile cases you read about in newspapers. These are offenses committed by unknown people, often for no clear reason.
The proceedings are slow (there’s a lot of sitting around and waiting) and fast: Once a docket number is called, the matter is settled in minutes.