Balloon Boy - The Judge's Surprise 

As I approach 50, I must remind myself, despite my “vast” life experience, always be prepared to be surprised. For example, this morning at 10:30am, CNN was covering the “balloon boy” parents’ court appearance - LIVE. What a waste of precious air time I thought. And then, I was surprised.


The defense attorney for the “balloon boy’s” father was explaining politely to the judge why the judge could keep things brief since his client understood the implications of his guilty plea. My eyes were glued to the right side of CNN’s screen which showed video of the great helium balloon flight – speeding through the sky – looking like a giant chef’s hat racing to pluck the father from the court room oven and deliver him to his alleged dream of a reality show.
But this was his reality show. In the courtroom. Pleading guilty. That’s when the surprise hit me. This story was not a waste of precious air time.

The judge, after listening to the defense attorney say brevity was acceptable, insisted on giving a thorough explanation to the defendant. The judge took his time to explain to balloon boy’s dad the implications of a guilty plea. You are presumed innocent in our system, the judge told “balloon boy’s” father, Richard Heene. By pleading guilty, the judge slowly and methodically emphasized, you are giving up that presumption of innocence.
To witness the judge slow down the process in the spirit of our judicial system was more thrilling than watching that helium balloon racing through the sky.