David Bass: Lesson learned

March 20, 2013 

Lesson learned

The passing of Judge George Greene brought to mind a lasting memory. Many years ago, when I was a junior in high school, I got a ticket for doing 77 mph in a 55-mph zone and had to go to court.

The assistant DA was going to let me plead to a lower speed, but Judge Greene looked at me and said, “Nope, I’m not going to do it. I think you need to learn something from this.” The offense meant losing my license for two months. But he wasn’t finished.

Judge Greene reached under his blotter, pulled out a newspaper clipping, handed it to me and asked me to read it – out loud. So I had to stand in front of District Court and read “Dead at 17” from Ann Landers in front of a full courtroom. Naturally, I was mortified. After I was finished, he said that he hoped all of this would make an impression on me.

He was right. I never forgot the message, and I know it made me a more careful driver. So I thank Judge Greene for caring enough to not just apply the law, but to make sure that I wasn’t just punished, and that I also learned something lasting.

David Bass, Raleigh

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