By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
By Jeff Balke
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
Kristopher didn't budge. So the woman hopped out of her car and came to Karen.
"Do you have a license to take my picture?" she asked.
Kristopher remained poker-faced and silent, the way the early Christian martyrs must have when confronted with the hostility of non-believers.
Then the tall blond woman put her hand over the lens of Kristopher's Nikon and gave it the faintest of pushes.
"Assault!" screamed Karen Kay Kristopher. "You saw it ...."
"I wouldn't exactly call that an assault ..." I start to say.
That observation didn't sit well with Kristopher, I later learned. She probably has me pegged for a weasel, and the idea that she might think poorly of me caused a small pang of regret, since Karen Kay Kristopher, for a self-appointed public scold, seems to be a very likable person. I wanted to tell her that I was left confused about what constitutes an assault after spending a few afternoons watching the Warren Moon trial, but I leR>t itR> ridR>e.
After being assured that I was only a non-aligned observer, the tall blond woman started back to her car. But suddenly she stopped and wheeled around.
"I have a little girl in that car -- you want to take her picture, too?" she said angrily. "I'm calling the police."
"A mother taking a little girl in there ...," Kristopher said in an admonishing aside, sounding a bit like the old movie actress Ruth Gordon.
As the tall blond woman put her car in reverse, a fresh-faced young couple in business attire came walking up the sidewalk, clutching drink cups from Taco Bell.
"Are y'all going in there?" asked Kristopher, already moving her camera into position.
"No-o-o," laughed the guy.
"Then God bless you."
"God bless you," the couple replied.
I forgot to mention another reason for Karen Kay Kristopher's appearances on the sidewalk outside The Men's Club: it's almost Election Day. Yes, KKK ("I think my initials intimidate the police") is running for office. She's a "Christian candidate," she says, one of ten people running in the Republican primary to replace Paul Till as Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 1.
It's hard to stand out in such a big crowd, and although I'm unfamiliar with most of the contestants, I'd wager that KKK does stand out.
By way of establishing her credentials, Kristopher had informed me that she's "the female that got pornography out of the Harris County Courthouse."
It takes two full tellings by Kristopher and a trip to the courthouse, but I finally understand that KKK was righteously offended by a print of a painting that was displayed somewhere in the county's ancillary court last year. The painting, as she describes it, depicted "Lady Justice sitting naked on the witness stand."
"Lady Justice was about 80 years old," she adds. "And we all know how an 80-year-old woman looks naked."
Certainly not the sort of attraction that would cause me to brave KKK's camera to get insiR>de The R>Men's CR>lub.
Kristopher apparently spends a lot of time at the courthouse. She also told me, by way of further establishing her credentials, that she's "one of the leading pro se litigators in the city."
I can't vouch for that distinction, but Kristopher, as she says, is indeed "very litigious."
The last lawsuit she filed, which is still pending in the court of state District Judge David West, names 14 defendants, including the aforementioned Till, former Sheriff Johnny Klevenhagen, Police Chief Sam Nuchia and West himself. I would no more attempt to explain what Kristopher v. Till, et. al. is about than I would attempt to explain what, say, Finnegan's Wake is about. It's way, way beyond me. But I think I can say, hopefully without provoking future pro se litigation, that Kristopher's pleading, like James Joyce's novel, has an epic sweep, as well as a certain feverish quality.
One of the grievances cataloged therein concerns the above-mentioned picture, which, we learn from Kristopher v. Till, is entitled One Day in Court, and which, we see from a photocopy of a photograph of the print that KKK entered into the record of Kristopher v. Till, is a phantasmagoric depiction of a courtroom, with various knaves, jesters and a ventriloquist (lawyers, I guess) towering over throngs of Lilliputians (the justice-seeking public, I guess). The judge resembles Warren Burger, the former Supreme Court chief justice. Lady Justice is slumped on the witness stand, blindfolded and breasts sagging. She looks out of it.
One Day in Court is a fine painting, and if I were a member of the legal profession, I'd want a print hanging in my office, right next to the one of the poker-playing dogs.
According to Kristopher's suit, however, One Day in Court is "lewd, lascivious and obscene" and "denotes a society without God." Its public display was "corrupting the public," she maintained, particularly the minors who might find themselves with business in ancillary court. She seemed to blame West,R> the adminR>istrative R>judge for the county's civil district courts, for all this, and claimed that because of her protests, One Day in Court was moved to the judges' lounge last spring.