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  • Lance Mannion
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Jennifer

"This amounted to signing a form I could have signed at home and sent in by mail if I'd read the fine print."

But then you wouldn't have had blogging fodder, Lance!

Jennifer

I just noticed the Amazon grocery thingie... can we buy cereal boxes AND empty paint cans? You know, just in case we have to go to court?

Victoria

I get a wave of sadness when I run into similar strangeness in government settings, because it makes government annoying and stupid to people, which defeats us all.

Like the day I went into the Federal Building in downtown Oakland a few months ago and the scanner revealed a Swiss Army knife in my cosmetic pouch. I had completely forgotten it was there...as it had been for years and throughout numerous other times it had passed through the same building's scanner completely undetected. (Revealed: I am barely a girl; at any rate, I don't touch up the lip gloss enough to keep track of the contents of that bag.) "You'll have to take this back to your car," said the guard. No car. I had been dropped off. I briefly considered going outside and burying it in some dirt behind the hedge around the building while I conducted my business. Afterall, it had been a Christmas present from my husband. Instead, I let them have it. Forever. I thought of the booty they must acquire in course of a week... imagined the guards taking bits and pieces home with them. (Come on! You know they do! Drawers full of tiny pairs of scissors in their houses.)

Or like next Tuesday morning, when we are scheduled to go to court on a case we are bringing... only the odds are we and all our witnesses will get there at 9:00 AM and be told by 10:00 or so that our case is being postponed to some distant date TBA later, as the Tuesday docket is overfull. They will have known this the day before. They will have known it a week before actually, because that's how late this court is running. But they won't tell us until we and all our witnesses - one of whom has to fly in from Montana - show up in our court finery and sit around on benches for a while. Because that's just how they do it. Because they can. But it's stupid. And it makes people think government is stupid. But it doesn't have to be.

grasshopperkm

Oh, you wouldn't believe the terrible incidents that occur almost any time a police officer addresses me directly. They can smell my fear. And afraid as I am, I do my best to contain myself. The unstated argument,I think, is that they want me to cry. And although I cry very easily, the citations the police officer lists as my offenses, the reason I was stopped, strike me as so ridiculous I laugh. It's a nervous laugh that doesn't sound nervous. It sounds as if the police officer's procedures (and authority) are so wildly funny to me, I have never laughed so hard in my life. I get a grip more or less, but before I can stop myself, knowing I should remain silent, I ask: Just what did I do wrong again?
No police officer has ever found me funny. When I show up in court, the judge is generally bemused. All my experiences have been with men judges. The judge looks at me and asks out loud what was it I did that angered the officer so much? He reads my offenses and the police officer's instructions: no lienance! Sometimes the judge lets me off. Othertimes I pay a ridiculous sum for jay-walking.

Doug K

I went 30mph in a school zone that is posted for 20mph during the hours 1pm to 2:15pm. There weren't any kids on the street nor any unusual traffic. The ticket was issued at 2:17pm, so my contention was that the limit was not in effect. It took three trips to the courtrooms and then the cop didn't show anyway, bah.
They confiscated the swiss army knife that I'd forgotten was in my briefcase on the first courtroom visit, humph. As Victoria says they must have a good stash of these..

Karen

Ah, memories.

Back in 1987 (dear lord--20 years ago?!?!), I was driving to my usual stealth afternoon parking space on a traffic bridge near Tudor City on the east side (I tended bar in the evenings at the Grand Hyatt at the time, long before my librarian life). There was a little hill up to the overpass, with a stop sign. I was in the left lane, and I pulled up next to a nice-looking guy in a grey BMW with Connecticut plates. After I made my left turn and found my parking place, a cop pulled up next to me and wrote me a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign. I remonstrated, and he shut me up with a "You can fight it in court if you've got a problem with it."

The nerve!

I wrote on the ticket "grey BMW, CT plates" and made my appointment. And, because I was young and shapely and not entirely an idiot, I dressed very nicely on court day. I didn't show any skin, but I wore a fairly clingy dress. Sue me!

It wasn't really a court room. There wasn't really even a judge's bench--more like a counter. The cop was there, and the judge had him go first. I was unable to suppress a smile when he described me as having pulled up next to a red car as I sailed through the stop sign. Heh! Gotcha, sucker! I pulled out my ticket, and showed the judge where I'd written the make, color, and origin of the car. I admitted, as ingenuously as I could, that I had stopped next to the BMW to check out the driver. (I omitted the sad fact that the BMW driver showed no interest in anyone in a beat-up red Toyota Corrolla, no matter how young and shapely.)

When I finished, the judge shot the cop a fairly quizzical look and dismissed the case. I gave him a dazzling smile and retired, triumphant.

Connie

I didn't hear my ID called in on the recorded message summoning me to appear for jury duty. Honest. I didn't.

The only time I've ever been called for jury duty was probably about 12 years ago. I was instructed to report to White Plains, NY with the rest of the jury pool. I answered one yes or no question directed at me while all the other people around me were questioned repeatedly. I mean repeatedly - we were in there all day. At the end of the day I was stunned to learn I was the ONLY one selected for this particular case about to go to trial. I was sent home with instructions to call "this number" daily for further instructions while they continued to interview potential jurors. And that I did. Faithfully.

I was at work one day when I received a phone call asking me if I was "aware you skipped jury duty today?"

Mortified, I must have sounded mortified. "I did? Oh no - I swear I've called the designated number daily! I didn't hear my ID come up!"

There was a long pause, then "OK. But don't let it happen again."

Linkmeister

Back in Spring 1970 my college roommate and I were driving his brand-new VW bug with pending registration, and got ticketed for not having the tags. We went in and got a continuance. Not knowing what that meant, we went home for the summer. In September we got back, and a few weeks later I was awakened at 0700 by a cop with a summons for non-appearance at our rescheduled court date.

Fortunately the judge was amenable to the explanation that we were dumb; we showed him the current registration and he said "go and sin no more, grasshoppers."

djangone

I still have burned into my brain the number JB47584, the ticket number on the speeding ticket I received in Irwindale in 1987...The Ticket that Just Wouldn't Die.

I immediately paid by check, not opting for traffic school, all of $64. Weeks later, I received a warrant notice, due to my nonpayment. What? I cancelled the check and wrote a new check and included the warrant stub. Two weeks later I received another warrant notice. WHAT? Nearly out of my mind with frustration, I tore the notice into bits and cancelled the second check. I called the courthouse probably two dozen times to get this silly situation resolved, even resorting to calling random numbers one removed from the numbers I was given, reaching people who never expected to be reached. No dice, there was nothing for it but to take hours out of my time to go to court to fix a situation that was none of my fault.

The next paragraph is parenthetical, yet pathetic, adding up to what became The Third Worst Day of My Life.

The last day to show for court was during finals week. I sprinted out of my last exam that day to find my car to drive to court. But what's this? My car had been booted for traffic tickets (oh, lovely Westwood). After ten minutes of pleading with my stingy friend, I borrowed his car and sped to court in downtown LA. I still needed money for parking. I parked illegally and ran furiously to an ATM, which promptly ate my card without giving me any money. Alarming other people in the line, I beat on the First Interstate Bank window like Griffin Dunne in 'After Hours.' Back at my friend's car, I discovered that it was one car away from being towed, what else? But luck intervened! The next two truck of the four-truck team was still turning right onto Grand thirty hards away--my one break all day! I shot away and disappeared into the Night Court parking lot, watching in my rear-view as the tow truck got the next guy ahead of me.

The judge called me and I walked forward away from the crowd of alcohol-smelling fellow respondents, passing him a chronology that I'd whipped up a few days before. 'I paid the ticket, your honor' I said in reply to his first question. 'But you cancelled the check, neat trick!' he shot back with not a little sarcasm. 'Only after I got the warrant.' To this day I thank god that I said that. I was so nervous that I was sure I'd miss the essential point, and this line wasn't even something I'd practiced. Seeing it bring him up with a round turn, I pressed on, 'If you'd look at the chronology I prepared...' He applied his 'stern judge face' to the document. 'What's going on here? Okay, I get it, we screwed up. $200 for the warrant, case dismissed.'

I stood there gaping. $200 for the warrant? You mean I'm paying two bills for a warrant that never should've been issued? 'But, your honor!' I bagan. 'Bailiff!' the judge replied, and I was escorted out as if I'd threatened his person. A chagrined $200 dollars later, I was on my way...except I had no cash to pay for parking upon leaving the courthouse. I begged my case, and against all hope, the woman at the window let me through.

Seems like just yesterday you owned my life, JB47584, my nemesis, my ticket that Just Wouldn't Die.

Sabutai

Ah, yes. I was back in my hometown one December, on Christmas break from college. As a favor, I was asked to pick up some toys from my parish that had been donated for needy children. I was to drop them off at the local office of the state social services agency -- the toys would be given to children removed from their homes and abusive families on Christmas Day to give them something good for the holiday.

Naturally, I got a $100 ticket for parking in a handicapped space while running the toys up to the office and finding the designated recipient. Now, it had snowed that morning, and the snow had stuck to the sign and obscured the emblem on the space, making both impossible to read. One could still see the ticketer's footprints. I certainly wasn't going to park in a handicapped space (a thing of mine..I'll park in front of a hydrant or in a fire land, but not a designated space).

Well, I bought a disposable camera and took photos of the "scene". Going into traffic court, the lady had little time for me until I whipped out the photo. Ticket dismissed. Almost got punished for a good deed.

Chris the cop

Lance, I'm not sure why the baliff didn't want you to ask for a supporting deposition. That's one way to get the thing dismissed if the cop fails to provide one.

I, of course see this from the other side of the car window. And briefly, I wil tell you about the last ticket I ever wrote. It was to a nice looking lady of about 22, who was somehow, simultaneously, making left turn, talking on her cell phone (which is illegal in NY State) while ighting a cigarette--oh yes, around police barricades put up to block off a street.

It was the only time I wrote someone for the cell phone statute and I only wrote her one because, hey, I'm a nice guy.

retr2327

For what it's worth, your chances of beating the ticket are small (although it may occasionally happen). But that's not the point: get there early and negotiate for a lower violation (try for one with no points).
There is no real rhyme or reason to it, but that's how the game is played: plead guilty (as you are), and pay the full freight, plus higher insurance premiums, or plead innocent, and try to dicker for a conviction on something you probably didn't really do (e.g., failure to wear a seatbelt).

And about the deposition: I got a ticket dismissed once b/c the officer failed me to provide me with the written dep, as req'd, but knowledgeable insiders have warned me that this trick only works with cops who don't know what they're doing (campus cop might be a good bet). Those who do (e.g., State Troopers) only get pissed off, and are likely to be less amenable to the plea-bargaining discussed above.

Raco

A Pennsylvania policeman pulled me over and said I was going 80. I said I didn't know how fast I was going and was in a hurry to get to work (This was true). He said our conversation was being taped. I asked to see the radar. He brought it over and it was blank. Then he said he was citing me for disobeying a "traffic control device," meaning the 65 mph sign, instead of speeding. He crossed off the word "signal" in Traffic Control Signal and wrote in "device." Then he said what I was being cited for would not take off points. I just found out this is incorrect from PennDOT, and points would be taken off.

In another case, I was caught in a blizzard in February 2007 on a New York interstate. Traffic was stopped, and I was caught in the left hand lane which was much thicker than the right in snow. I backed 200 ft to get into a space between 2 trucks in the right hand lane. A cop came and gave me a ticket for "backing on a controlled-access highway." In that blizzard this winter, there were hundreds of car crashes, and by backing into the right lane I was trying to avoid the potential for one. It has been 5 months without a reply to my not guilty plea, can I just let it run out because the court did nothing for so long?

From Wikipedia: "In total, this storm system was responsible for 37 deaths across 13 U.S. states and Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. The NOAA classified the storm as a Category 3 "Major" storm." Besides, the court has not given me a date yet, how long must they wait?

How do you think I might act in these 2 court cases when filing as NOT GUILTY. In the 1st case, I might not be guilty of the "lesser offence" the officer gave me because it may not be for speeding. So I could challenge it on that basis. But if I do could the judge/prosecution get mad and give me an 80 mph ticket?

Raco

A Pennsylvania policeman pulled me over and said I was going 80. I said I didn't know how fast I was going and was in a hurry to get to work (This was true). He said our conversation was being taped. I asked to see the radar. He brought it over and it was blank. Then he said he was citing me for disobeying a "traffic control device," meaning the 65 mph sign, instead of speeding. He crossed off the word "signal" in Traffic Control Signal and wrote in "device." Then he said what I was being cited for would not take off points. I just found out this is incorrect from PennDOT, and points would be taken off.

In another case, I was caught in a blizzard in February 2007 on a New York interstate. Traffic was stopped, and I was caught in the left hand lane which was much thicker than the right in snow. I backed 200 ft to get into a space between 2 trucks in the right hand lane. A cop came and gave me a ticket for "backing on a controlled-access highway." In that blizzard this winter, there were hundreds of car crashes, and by backing into the right lane I was trying to avoid the potential for one. It has been 5 months without a reply to my not guilty plea, can I just let it run out because the court did nothing for so long?

From Wikipedia: "In total, this storm system was responsible for 37 deaths across 13 U.S. states and Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. The NOAA classified the storm as a Category 3 "Major" storm." Besides, the court has not given me a date yet, how long must they wait?

How do you think I might act in these 2 court cases when filing as NOT GUILTY. In the 1st case, I might not be guilty of the "lesser offence" the officer gave me because it may not be for speeding. So I could challenge it on that basis. But if I do could the judge/prosecution get mad and give me an 80 mph ticket?

Ontario Traffic Ticket Help

"All the cops were in a jolly mood, laughing and talking together by the empty judge's bench. Traffic court's a regular office party for them. Probably shouldn't count on my cop not showing on my actual court date."

Unfortunately cops Always show up...They get a day off the streets, so showing up for them is a sure thing!

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