POMPANO BEACH (CBS Tampa) – Hallelujah – he can walk again!
No, the scene wasn’t an old-fashioned tent revival. It was the courtroom of Broward Judge John “Jay” Hurley – and it seemed to be the defendant’s lucky day even though the date was Friday the 13th.
Carl Funk, 56, was beamed onto the courtroom monitor via video link last week from the North Broward Detention Center to face charges on a seven-year-old open container violation. Struggling to stand on his own, he had to be assisted into his chair gingerly by a pair of deputies.
Meanwhile, Hurley appeared determined to do all he could to cut Funk some slack and resolve the matter.
“Sir, do you want to work this out today?” the judge is seen asking in a video of the proceedings.
To expedite things, Hurley began with an offer to let Funk bond out with a mere $100 fine, whereupon the defendant explained that he did not have the money. What’s more, he told the judge that he needed a wheelchair to move and was otherwise confined to bed.
“I am disabled and it’s really a problem for me to move around,” he protested. “I really need to be in my bed and that’s where I’ll be for the rest of my life.”
According to the account that appeared in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Hurley read aloud the police report that indicated Funk had been trespassing on South Ocean Drive with the aforementioned open container.
“It didn’t look like you were in bed at the time,” the judge remarked, eliciting chuckles in the gallery.
Funk’s novel defense: Two men had dragged him from his home and taken to the property of a neighbor, thus causing him to trespass against his will.
Funk then pleaded “not guilty” to the open container charge, saying “Your honor, it wasn’t in my hand.”
Hurley cut him off: “Sir, it was seven years ago! How do you remember where it was?”
Getting nowhere fast, the judge asked Funk if he really wanted to remain incarcerated over $100.
“Your honor, I have limited funding,” the defendant replied.
Hurley then offered to give Funk six months to pay and even dangled a bargain-basement deal: $50.
“Sir, we are defendant-friendly in this courtroom,” the judge quipped.
That changed Funk’s tune. He promptly went for the discount and pleaded guilty. Hurley accepted it but added, “You’re not allowed to drink Budweiser until you’re released from jail, all right?”
Amid more courtroom giggles, the defendant promised and Hurley closed with a “Good luck, Funk.”
Then came an unexpected courtroom twist that would have stunned Perry Mason, or made him double over laughing.
Funk got up and walked off camera.
When the bemused judge asked how he had vanished from the screen so quickly, a deputy returned on camera to explain he’d used a walker that wasn’t visible to viewers.
“He’s been cured, he’s been cured,” said the judge, holding up his hands and hamming it up like a preacher who’d just performed a miracle.