Well, I did it again. I won the case one more time. Devoted readers remember my bogus ticket from half a year ago. After a hiccup with pleading not guilty and reopening my case the trial date was set.
In preparation for the hearing I followed the protocol of what I did for my previous victory, i.e. bugged the police department and the court with my informal discovery request. A couple of days before the trial date I sat down and wrote all the questions I had for the police officer in case he in fact was going to show up to the hearing. The line of questioning pretty much boiled down to ridiculing the fact that 25mph speed could be unsafe for anything let alone passing a car on the right.
My trial was scheduled to start at 1:30pm. I arrived to court at 1pm. 1:30 came and the court room doors were still locked. My cop was nowhere to be seen. Even though I would love to question him in front of dozens of people I definitely was not opposed for the no show resolution and case dismissal. The roll call happened at 1:40 with the court doors still locked. After bailiff calling my name surprisingly I did not hear “case dismissed”. That was strange. Maybe the officer was already in the court room or running late. Whatever the case I was ready for battle. Just was slightly annoyed with the pace things were going.
The court room doors opened at 1:50. Approximately 40 people including myself poured in. Police officers were sitting in the court room already on both sides of the room. Again the officer that cited me was nowhere to be seen. In the next 40 minutes there were some useless announcements and more waiting. Then precisely at 2:30pm, one hour after the scheduled time the judge appeared.
First in line were case dismissals. My name was called 3rd in row. Just like that I scored another victory. Check in the mail in the next 8 to 10 weeks.
I would like to point out some tactics that I had seen in action while there. First of all the whole system of traffic courts is built around the idea of you not wanting to deal with it. It is a pain in the a$$ from the moment you get in line to enter the building to the moment when you are impatiently waiting for the judge to make an entrance. Also it looks like the court’s main goal is not to deal with people or deal with them as quickly as possible. The hearing had started at 2:30pm and there must have been 40 people in that court room. It is absolutely impossible to hear 40 cases within a 3-4 hour time frame. That is why I saw quite a few police officers find their “victims”, approach them and apparently offer them to settle without a hearing, i.e. either plea guilty or agree to a traffic school without a hearing. Obviously either scenario is beneficial for the court system as it won’t loose the money it earned off of tickets. Another trick up their sleeve was to offer traffic school to some folks even before the judge’s appearance. The trick there was that the police officers in those cases did not even show up. However the bailiff would not say that up front. Instead he would say something like “it is pretty much your last chance to apply for traffic school because the judge is usually unlikely to give it to you once the hearing is in process”. Some people caved in.
Another interesting point. Though I can’t prove that it seemed that the officer in my case had informed the court that he was coming but did not come. Otherwise I would have been dismissed at the first roll call.
To sum it up I will say this - always fight your ticket. But don’t come unprepared. File discovery requests, get your questions, diagrams etc prepared for the hearing so in case the officer does show up you do not look like a complete fool. The worse that would happen - you’d be found guilty.