In the two hours I sat in Superior Court, no one observed the "Quiet Please, When Court Is In Session" sign tacked to the far corner of one wall.
The courtroom was chaos. People in dark suits bustled in and out of the one door, past the bailiff seated just inside. Attorneys approached the bench where I was seated to to talk to their clients. "This is where they do the arraignments, and when they call your name I'll come out to get you." A 20-year old man sat next to me, flanked by his parents, acne still raising the skin on his youthful face, nervously pumping his foot on an invisible brake. A young woman with a dark bobbed haircut sat somberly and watched a man in orange, chained and handcuffed at the waist, receive his sentence—reduced bail, and he must observe the no contact order. She sighs when the judge mentions the name of the woman the orange-suited man is supposed to leave alone, and when an attorney emerges from the courtroom moments later, she calls the woman by that same name.
A woman was charged with cyberstalking after sending hundreds of messages to a man and his wife, and she can no longer use the internet. An irritable man is led into the courtroom in the now familiar orange outfit—it's ill fitting, and his hands never stop shaking. He talks over his court-appointed attorney, saying, "No man speaks for me, your honor" over and over again. When it's time for him to leave, he is thrown to the ground by 3 hulking officers. The court microphones picked up his eerily calm voice as he says, "I'm just trying to help you" to the carpet near his mouth. Eight more officers barreled in through the single door, and stood around him in a circle. When they carried him out of the room, his body was rigid.
At 10:02am, Musab Masmari's name was called. Judge Patrick Oishi watched him walk towards the bench. Masmari has a full beard now, and smiled when asked to confirm his name. Musab Masmari is charged with arson in the first degree for his alleged role in the Neighbours arson, and he pleads not guilty. His attorney, Harold Palmer, argues that one of the terms presented is too vague, and that Masmari can't possibly stay away from all potential Neighbours customers. The judge orders that Masmari is prohibited from contact with Neighbours, Therapy Lounge, and any employees of either establishment, dropping the patron status from the court order. A case setting date has been chosen, and Masmari will come back on March 5 to get his trial date.
Masmari smiled at his attorney as he turned to leave, and Palmer gave him a few pats on the back before he was led away.
The entire arraignment took 3 minutes and 54 seconds.
I caught up to Mr. Palmer in the elevator, and asked if he thought his client would receive a fair trial, or if he has already been tried by the public. "He is absolutely not guilty." When I asked him about the unnamed people coming forward to accuse Masmari of terrorist plots and homophobic slurs, Palmer said, "I'm concerned that there are so many unnamed witnesses allowed to present speculation as fact in the court documents, but I have no comment about the rest of the case at this time." When I spoke to Dan Donohue from the prosecutor's office about Masmari's arraignment, he said, "We are confident we have enough evidence to move forward."