Bad luck may follow some people, but it jumps all over others. Just ask Robert Brockman.
"Robert Brockman. That name sounds familiar," Judge Albert M. Pickett mused Friday afternoon in Richmond County Superior Court.
Mr. Brockman, 27, was a late addition to Friday's calendar of arraignment, a simple procedure in which those accused of felony crimes appear briefly before a judge to enter a guilty or not guilty plea to the charges.
A check of the indictment refreshed the judge's memory when he read the name of one of the theft victims: Albert M. Pickett.
"I've been waiting a year to look at you," Judge Pickett told the suspect. "You stole my boat."
Mr. Brockman of Warrenville, S.C., started to talk, but Judge Pickett warned him not to because any statement made in court can be used against a person. His newly appointed attorney also tried to keep Mr. Brockman silent.
But Mr. Brockman continued to mutter. "I guess you didn't know it was a judge's boat," Judge Pickett responded, laughing.
"Don't worry, I will not be trying your case; some other judge will," Judge Pickett said.
The judge told Assistant District Attorney Jason Troiano, "Put me on the witness list. I wouldn't miss this for love or money." Mr. Brockman pleaded not guilty.
After Mr. Brockman was led back to the holding cells, Judge Pickett told what happened May 23, 1997: When he went home for lunch, he found that someone had broken into his home and stolen a boat motor and battery charger. By the time he came home at the end of the day, the thief had returned to take his boat and trailer.