Monday, May 23, 2005

I fought the law.... and I won!

I got a ticket for running a red light back in December that I felt I didn't deserve. For one thing, the light was yellow when I entered and exited the intersection. For another thing, I wasn't even the last person to go through the intersection. I was pulled over by a motorcycle cop down the road, who was radioed by his buddy at the intersection. The officer told me three times that if I didn't feel I was guilty, I could fight the offense in court. So I did.

It's really not like me to do something like this. I like to watch lawyer shows like Law and Order, but mostly because when I watch them I think, "There's a job I could never do." Ditto for cop shows. I know the majority of people feel that way about my job, for various reasons. Anyway, it was way more expensive to pay a lawyer to fight the ticket than to just pay the ticket nolo contendere. But that wasn't the point. They don't appoint lawyers for these minor offenses. A lay person should be able to manuever themselves through the municipal court legal system, so I decided to go for it.

There is a wealth of free legal advise on line. I did thorough research. I figured I could argue I was not guilty (because it is not red light running unless you "deliberately enter and proceed through the intersection after the light is red") and there was serious reasonable doubt that I was the car they intended to ticket (since I was not the last car through the intersection). I wrote out my opening arguments, cross examination of the officers, my testimony, and closing arguments. I had photos of the intersection.

They don't make it easy. I went to court for a pre-trial hearing and then for discovery before my court date. At discovery, both ticketing officers showed up. It is generally known that if your ticketing officer doesn't show to your trial, they dismiss the charges. So I pretty much figured I was in for a fight. But, it was obvious neither officer remembered me, or made any notes about me (a big mistake on their part - no proof of my guilt), so I felt cautiously confident in my case.

So today, 5 1/2 months after the ticket, I had my day in court. There was a group of about 12 of us. The bailiff stated 2 names that were automatically being dismissed. The rest of us had to acknowledge our presence to the judge, and decide (after a lengthy explanation) whether we wanted a court reporter (needed only for appeal). The bailiff went downstairs to get our officers.

By this time, I was ready for my fight. As with each previous appearance, my heart was pumping, but I was prepared. The bailiff came in and handed the judge a stack of legal files. He called me forward, and my case was dismissed! Woo hoo!

I was only disappointed a tiny bit that I didn't have my say. Mostly I was relieved! It was like getting $200 back in my pocket! I won, without a fight! I wanted to celebrate with champagne, but instead, I went by Starbucks and got myself and Lisa (who really bailed me out again, watching Colin) some Cafe Lattes. Mmmm, the sweet taste of victory!


Emily said...

Woo Hoo! Congratulations!!

Anonymous said...

My daughter, the lawyer!

Grandad said...

Wow that was good. I got caught in April and had just the opposite luck. I was guilty of turning on red without stopping and the cop had me, no question. I took the on-line 6 hr deal and went down and did all the paperwork - 2 trips and thought it was all over. A month later they issued a summonse for my arrest and I looked into it and found that the original ticket number was transposed and I was now on the books for 2 violations! Such luck. And, in ELP I don't have a lotta confidence in the City Workers to be able to fix it, but they did after 3 phone cals downtowwn.
Good for you. Musta been all the episodes of Paper Chase we watched in Midland.

EdamameMommy said...

Good. Good. Good.

Doctor. Lawyer. Man, I hope you are singin' "I'm every woman, it's all in meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

Everybody sing it with me now...
Woah woah woah