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Court Appearance - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
Court Appearance
Adding insult to injury, I was ticketed for my car accident in January. The officer told me that, by law, he was required to ticket somebody. Since I was the only one who had stopped, and my car had not collided with another vehicle (just a very unforgiving wall), I was the unlucky one who got the ticket.

The ticket said "speed too fast for conditions". I don't believe I was really at fault though. I was going with the flow of traffic, the same speed as everybody else. If that was too fast, then everybody should have gotten into accidents, right? The only reason I lost control was because I was swerving to avoid another car. Another car which was trying to occupy the same lane as me. Another car which didn't even bother to stop. Had I not swerved, at least we two vehicles would have collided, and possibly others -- the accident could have been much worse.

So I entered a plea of "Not Guilty" and set a court date. My court date was this morning.

I awoke this morning still feeling pretty sick and miserable from my cold, plus nervous. I dragged myself into nice clothes, jotted down the court's address, and jotted down a list of points I wanted to make when I spoke.

The court was crowded at 8:30 this morning, and I seated myself quietly in the back. There were a bunch of small claims cases which occurred first, and she didn't mention anything about traffic. I nervously exited the courtroom to double-check that I was in the correct place. I was, so I sat back and listened to the drama unfold in the first one.

I felt like I was on a talk show. A 32-year-old woman was making a claim against her parents. They had recently thrown her out of their home, because she wanted to move in with her boyfriend. The parents didn't approve of this boyfriend. She had a joint bank account with her father while she was living with them, and he had decided to keep all of the money in it. She wanted it back. There was much gasping, shouting out of turn, and dramatics.

The girl had bright blue fingernail polish, and she was wearing jeans and her winter coat. Her boyfriend sported a long mullet. I felt out of place in my dressy black wool jacket and slacks.

The whole thing came down to a verbal agreement, and each party claimed the agreement was different. Everybody agreed that the girl had earned the money, but her parents claimed that she had agreed to live rent-free with them and follow their rules, and if she didn't she would forfeit everything. She just wanted the money in the joint account, as it was hers. The mother kept raising her hand, as though she was in school. Finally she loudly exclaimed (several times in a row), "I will gladly take a lie detector test to prove we are right!"

The judge explained that they don't use lie detectors in small claims court. Finally she got everybody to shut up, and she said the girl should be given her money, and she made everybody leave. I was surprised to see that there were no cameras trailing after the rumpled party, since it felt like daytime television.

A few more cases went much more quickly. Each time a new case was called, my stomach lurched, I was so nervous. I had my notes clutched in my sweating hands, and I tensely surveyed the courtroom. Finally, it was my turn.

I approached the bench, and the judge told me that the police officer who had issued me the ticket had not show up. The ticket was dismissed, and I was free to go.

Just like that! All that tension and worry for nothing! At least I got to watch the mullet-drama, so the morning wasn't completely wasted.
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Comments
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: March 12th, 2003 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)
That's a very common occurence for traffic tickets, especially since the officer usually lands up having to show up on their day off. Glad it was dismissed. BUT remember just because everyone else is doing it doesn't make it right.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: March 12th, 2003 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I wasn't necessarily going a "legal" speed, I just wasn't going "too fast for the conditions". I actually have no idea how fast I was going, and I told the officer as much. I wasn't paying attention, just going with the flow of traffic.

Actually the guy felt sorry for me, but he said he had to write me the ticket anyway. He also basically said, "If you go to court, and it's true that you have a clean record, I'll take care of you." So it looks like that involved just not showing up....works for me!
whipsmart From: whipsmart Date: March 12th, 2003 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I got a ticket for 'driving to fast for conditions' once and went to court b/c I didn't beleive I was wrong... It was raining and I was going 10mph below the speed limit and swerved to miss a child and went into the ditch...

I told the judge that I wasn't driving "too fast for conditions" as I was below the marked speed limit... he then handed me a book and pointed out the 'too fast' law... he told me to read it and tell him why I didn't think I was guilty...

I read it and then he asked me what I thought... I pointed out that, according to the way it was written, I was only guilty of crashing my car... and b/c I wasn't under the influence and wasn't speeding I hadn't commited any infraction...

My point was this... if I had been driving 2mph and crashed then I was still driving too fast for conditions, but if I was driving at the speed limit (in this case 30mph) and didn't crash then I wasn't driving too fast... I was only guilty of avoiding a child...

The judge looked at me, looked at the officer (who had shown up) and dismissed the case...

I thought very seriously about going to law school for a while after that...
renniekins From: renniekins Date: March 12th, 2003 11:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Very cool! Glad you were able to argue your case so eloquently.

I don't know how I would have done...sometimes I can be very convincing, other times I freeze up under pressure. Just as well I didn't have to find out.
cjdoyle From: cjdoyle Date: March 12th, 2003 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd like to think that the ticket would have been dropped regardless, but I'm glad it was a no-hassle win for you. :)

I wonder how they're going to enforce that kid getting her money back, though. I forsee them back again, after the parents claimed they returned "all of the money," less a $500 rent fee or something.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: March 12th, 2003 08:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re:

Thanks, me too!!

The judge awarded the girl $3000, which was actually $400 under the balance of the account, but it's the highest amount she can award in small claims court. The parents said they are going to appeal though. Who knows what will happen next....
cjdoyle From: cjdoyle Date: March 12th, 2003 09:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re:

Can you appeal small claims?

Heh. I can just see the family drama behind that one. "You leave, and I'm keeping your bank account!" "The hell you are!!!" "Yep. That three grand means we can buy us a NEW daughter!"

Methinks you witnessed a broken family that will never be mended.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: March 12th, 2003 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Apparently you can, although I don't know how you'd go about doing it. Probably lawyers need to get involved? Actually I have no idea how small claims court works. But the judge said it could be appealed.

Yes, I'm afraid you're right. Kind of sad. The parents seemed to think they had her best interests in mind, but instead probably alienated her for good. *sigh*
(Deleted comment)
bjorng From: bjorng Date: March 12th, 2003 12:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
What kills me is that it's mandatory to issue a ticket. That's just dumb. I hate pro-forma rules like that.

I'm glad it worked out for you. But that's a lot of stress and time wasted on what should have been hung on the other driver.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: March 12th, 2003 01:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Agreed! But at least it's over....
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