Man I love Law and Order. Oh, okay. I'll admit that is an exaggeration, the Cop wasn't corrupt, (Really to call him a Cop was doing a lot. He is a Kentucky State University police officer. I still don't know why they issue tickets on roads that are close to campus, but not on campus....sheesh!) and this wasn't a landmark case but I had a bench trial yesterday for a speeding ticket that I received and I WON!!!!!! The Prosecutor offered me traffic school and a reduction in the ticket so that I would be going five miles over the speed limit. But I refused and said I wanted the judge to hear it. I guess watching Law and Order for so many years emboldened me. But, when I got up to present my case to the judge I was a nervous wreck. I mean, it wasn't like I was Scott Peterson, but standing in front of a gruff looking judge to argue a speeding ticket is not easy. Especially when he had just sent the last fellow to jail for 180 days for driving on a suspended license with no insurance for the second time.
I was ticketed for traveling 45 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone. This was complete rubbish, because there was no speed limit sign posted anywhere on the quarter mile stretch of road where I was driving. Besides, I had just made a 90 degree turn off of a State Road when this guy gunned me. There was a lot of traffic on the road that I turned off of, and more than likely he "gunned" someone and tried to pin it on me.
As I turned off of the main road I saw his car about 100 to 110 meters down the hill from me. He was backed into an intersecting street for a speed trap I suppose. His lights were off, but I could plainly see the police emblem on the door. Not thinking I was doing anything wrong I continued on. Suddenly the white lights between his strobes cut on as I passed. He swung out behind me and followed me. I looked at my speedometer and I was going about 30 miles per hour. Suddenly the blue lights come on, and I pull over. I got my license, registration, and proof of insurance out and had it ready. The cop comes up next to my truck, and I roll down the window and hand him the documents. He says, "That's what I like to see." (This offers me hope that a good schmoozing and yessirs and nosirs will get me out of whatever I have done wrong.) He looks over them for a moment and says. "You know I could take you to jail right now, right?" (So much for the schmoozing...)
I said, "For what, Sir?" He proceeds to tell me that I was going 55 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone. I say nothing and he tells me to wait in the car. After about 10 minutes he comes back to my truck and says, "You have a problem with speeding don't you, son?" (Now there is a John Wayne baritone and inflection to his voice...I begin to worry.) I said, "I'm not sure I understand what you are saying, Sir." He says, "I ran your record, and you have been to traffic school before it seems." He literally rocks back and forth from his toe to his heels, and back again after he says this. (Jesus, give me a freakin' break and put the riding crop away, Field Marshal.) I tell him I had been to traffic school before. He hands me the ticket, and says that he is giving me a "break" by knocking the speed down to 45. He tells me about paying the ticket, and if I contest it where to report...yada..yada...yada.
After I got home I thought about it and decided to fight it. I showed up on the court date and plead not guilty. They then gave me another date in which I could have a bench trial, or ask for a jury trial. When I showed up for this date and walked up the courthouse steps, who should I see standing outside smoking a cigarette, but the cop who gave me the ticket (Dirty Harry incarnate). He says, "Good morning"! and winks. I am not sure if it was a mocking gesture or if it was sincere, oh well. After an insufferably long wait my name is called by the Prosecutor. Apparently he wanted to clear some of the list before the judge came in. He asks me what my defense is, and I tell him that there is no speed limit posted there, and that I was not going that fast. He follows with, "In Franklin County in the absence of a posted speed limit, the speed is 25 miles per hour. I'll offer you traffic school and a 10 mile per hour over the speed limit which will only be three points off your license. That's my only offer, if you don't take it now the deal won't be on the table if you go forward. (LOL! Did he say the "deal" would be off the table?.....Am I being offered a "plea bargain"?...LOL!...little did he know that he was feeding my tendency to be overdramatic. I love Law and Order, and I had to push for it.) I said, "No I'd rather contest this." (It was murder to fight the urge to say, "I guess I'll see you in court, Counselor.")
I went back to my seat and waited what seemed like an eternity until my name was called. Finally it was my turn, I stepped up to the bench and waited nervously as the Prosecutor droned on about the facts of the case and said, "Officer ******* is present also, Your Honor." We looked around, and he was nowhere to be found. He had gone out to smoke again! I was elated, I thought that certainly this surly old Judge would dismiss it because he wasn't here, but instead he sent my name to the end of the docket! He says, "Oh well, we'll just do them at the end, go on with the next person. (I thought that was total bullshit. Can you imagine what would have happened if I had stepped away and wasn't there to answer when my name was called?)
So, after another half hour of waiting, and after the court room was empty I finally got my chance. I stood by and listened as the Prosecutor gave the details of the case. He asked the Officer questions, (Which he was not altogether
I told him that I was only going about 30 miles per hour and that the Officer made a mistake. The Officer grinned smugly, as did the Prosecutor and the Judge. I then took out my digital photographs and my video footage to go along with that which showed that the turn from Martin Luther King to Cold Harbor was above 90 degrees. (I said 93 degrees to sound like a keen expert.) I then showed on the map that I presented from Yahoo that it was 110 meters from the turn to where the Officer was stationed me. He had previously said that he had gunned me at a location before I passed the street he was on, and that I didn't hit the breaks and just let the car slow to a stop when he put on the blue lights.
I told the judge that I was just short of the halfway point between the turn, and where his cruiser was parked. Roughly 50 to 55 meters. I told him that in making a 90 degree plus turn in a truck with a short wheel base like mine I had to slow to 10 to 15 miles per hour to make the turn. I also had video footage of me from inside my truck making the turn, as well as footage of other smaller vehicles making the turn. I told him it was physically impossible for me to get to a speed of 55 miles per hour in 50 meters even if I tried. I had printed off a description of how radar guns work, and I told him that if radar is aimed at two vehicles moving at different speeds, it will only register one speed and the Officer had to make a distinction based on his line of sight. I further surmised that his radar had clocked a vehicle that was continuing on Martin Luther King instead of me. The guy who had written this paper was a Ph.d at some University, and I had this as well as his credentials printed out. Lastly I added, (with a great deal of trepidation), that none of the police currently employed at Kentucky State University were officially trained and certified in the use of handheld or vehicle mounted radar as prescribed by the State Police Academy. At this point the Prosecutor didn't say anything but simply shuffled through the papers I had given him. The judge stopped me and said, "Well sir, do you now know what the speed limit is on that road.?" I said, "Yes.", and he said, "Well today is your day, I will let you off with a warning." I shook hands with the Officer who seemed pissed, and I thanked the Prosecutor. He was actually smiling and said, "Have a good day." I felt like a million bucks. He wasn't Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy,
But I am sure that they both would have had
Man, I can be an arrogant bastard after I win, can't I?