In December of 2005, shortly after I began writing this column for the Gazette, I wrote a judicial parody of “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” I was working for Judge Spicer at the time, and definitely had him in mind as I penned it. It hasn’t appeared in print since, and it seemed that with this column falling right before Christmas, this was a good time to bring it out. A very Merry Christmas to one and all. (With apologies to Clement C. Moore.)
“Twas the day before Christmas and all through the Court
there was narry a contract a will or a tort.
The robes were hung in their courtrooms with care,
In hopes that the Judge soon would be there.
But the children were sneaking right out of their beds,
and being unruly from their toes to their heads!
Their moms in their kerchiefs, their dads in their caps,
were completely oblivious in their long winter naps.
When out in the street where the kids were awry,
The Judge appeared as evening was nigh.
Away to the shadows they flew like a flash,
and hid their hot items and ill-gotten cash.
The moon in the sky cast a marvelous glow,
which showed the delinquents quite clearly below.
Then something appeared, foreign to any journey —
a miniature bench and eight tiny attorneys.
With a bright, lively man who could not hold a grudge,
I knew in a flash that it must be the Judge.
More rapid than cheetahs, his counselors they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name;
From the edge of the town to the edge of the county,
find those delinquents and bring back their bounty!
Like snowflakes that fall before the first light,
they covered every inch of the county that night.
They brought the offenders before the wise Judge,
All locked up so tight that they could not budge.
He drew up his hand and brought down his gavel,
and you thought that those children were going to unravel.
He was dressed in all black from his head to his foot,
in a long flowing robe — quite the color of soot.
The keys to detention he held in his palm,
and slowly he twirled them with a strange air of calm.
He eyes were quite piercing, his chin was quite stern,
his cheeks were all flushed — his face seemed to burn.
His lips were drawn in and quite tightly pursed,
But you noticed his stare and you noticed it first.
In the cold winter air he breathed through his teeth,
and the steam it encircled his head like a wreath.
Yet he had a kind face and a soft disposition,
that somehow seemed to befit his position.
He opened his mouth and spoke with a roar
that all of the children had not heard before.
“If you don’t like my decision, then you can appeal it”
and the children all laughed, though they tried to conceal it.
But a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
soon gave them to know they had nothing to dread.
He spoke then quite quickly and gave them their terms,
in tones not too friendly and yet not too firm.
For community service they had presents to wrap,
and instead of detention, they should all take a nap.
He stopped their probation — he lifted their perils,
and sent them to town, to sing joyous carols.
He got into his car, and he drove out of sight,
saying, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”
David Hejmanowski is judge of the Probate/Juvenile Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.