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At 1: 30 p.m., “Lockup Number 10” is called. A thin, almost frail woman steps before the arraignment court judge in Courtroom C10 of D.C. Superior Court. The woman had spent the night in jail with a pitstop at a local hospital. She had been charged with simple assault.
Within seconds, her case is no papered.
“This is yours to take,” a woman says in a flat stewardess voice from a microphone. It’s all arrivals and departures and paperwork souvenirs.
The room is filled with people waiting to see loved ones who had been arrested the previous night. Some are half asleep. Some crane their necks to see who’s coming out from behind the courtroom in shackles. Three attorneys sit in the first row with overstuffed briefcases. It’s hot as hell, a perfect zoning out temperature.
Number 10 is lucky. She gets to leave—-and only a half hour after arraignment court started up. She doesn’t feel lucky. She walks down the aisle. Her eyes are red and teary. Her mother is waiting in the institutional-bright hallway just beyond the thick double doors. Her mother greets her with Newports and a cellphone. She is fuming.
“I was beat up,” says No. 10 Darralyn Miller. She is 48. “They locked me up and they let him go.”
Miller lives with her sister and her sister’s boyfriend. Last night, she and the boyfriend argued over the mail. She had picked it up. He had snatched it from her. And then he started hitting her over and over. He put his knee on her chest. She called 911. “He kept smacking me,” she says, standing in the hallway outside C10.
When the police arrived, Miller says she couldn’t calm down. She explains that it was just too hard to steady herself after getting beat up. Her heart raced.
“He was calm,” she says. “He was in the service.” He knows how to calm himself and talk to authority figures like cops. She ended up being charged with assaulting him.
“I didn’t go to the emergency room until 12-something,” Miller continues. She has a paper from Providence for a shoulder injury and a headache. Now, she doesn’t want to go back home to the sister and her boyfriend.
“I won’t stay there,” Miller tells her mother. “Ma, he still there?”
Her mother has the wrong answer.
“I’m not going to get my things,” Miller declares.
“Why is he still there?” Miller asks.
Her mother can’t find an answer. Instead, the two then walk slowly together out of the quiet corridor and into the main hall.