Circuit Court Judge Vincent Femia is known for his brevity, and occasional wit, on Criminal Appeals Day. Some incidents drawn from last Monday's hearings:

Attorney Howard Shemler, wearing a heavy wool coat, pushes through the crowd to the judge's bench. "I apologize to the members of the bar and the defendants for pushing way ahead. But I am quite ill."

"Stop talking," orders Femia. "You're spreading germs."

A student is charged with stealing two pairs of jeans.

Femia: "How do you plead? Before you plead, if you plead guilty to that I'd give you two days in jail."

Defendant: "I spent two weeks in jail, your honor."

Femia: "If you have, I'll give you credit for that. I'm not unreasonable."

The judge checks the record and finds the student spent only one day in jail. He tells the student he must serve one more day, and agrees to delay it until Friday. "A student discount--I'll waive the costs."

"Thank you, your honor," the student says.

"Your reservations are now being Telexed over to the detention center."

A government employe has been charged with indecent exposure for urinating in a parking lot late one night, and prosecutors agree to drop a charge of littering by throwing chicken bones on the parking lot in exchange for a guilty plea to the other charge.

"You have $10 in your pocket?" the judge asks.


"You are fined $10."

A middle-aged taxi driver charged with drunk driving steps forward without a lawyer.

Femia: "You've been sitting here all day. You've been hearing all these wonderful deals I've been making."

Taxi driver: "I want a jury trial."

Femia: "I have a wonderful arrangement I worked out, if you were to plead guilty, you can spend four days in jail and lose no points. Or you can get a $500 fine and lose six points--or you can ask for a trial by jury."

Taxi driver: "I want a jury trial."

Femia: "Wouldn't it make more sense to spend four days in jail and come back here. I'll dust you off and you can go away."

Taxi driver: "I want a jury trial."

The judge sets a trial date.