I shall warn you this is a long and complex story, and those of you that are
not interested in self defense in court are probably well advised to skip
this post as it is complex and there is lots to read and ponder.
Chapter one The Arrest.
On January 30, 2007 your humble correspondent was sitting in a bank doing
his business when the bank officer said "Are you getting a ticket? , as she
pointed over my shoulder and pointed at my rig parked at the curb.
I excused myself and walked outside to inquire what business the officer
had. He informs me that the truck is parked blocking the crosswalk, he is
responding to a citizens complaint and that the Chief of Police had
personally directed him to write a ticket. Sure enough the bumper of the
truck was in fact a little ways inside the line of the crosswalk, but I
really do not think it was blocking the crosswalk, as there was room enough
for a paraplegic in a wheelchair with a service dog at their side to pass
in front of the truck without any difficulty.
I attempted to point out the petty nature of the complaint, but it was
apparent that this was an exercise in futility. I was then informed that
the officer had decided to issue the ticket to me personally, and could he
please see my drivers license. I considered calling upon my extensive
vocabulary in order to share my opinion of his intended action, but decided
to check my anger at this fool and get on with my business. I went back
into the bank, and retrieved my license from the desk of the bank officer,
and returned to the side walk to comply with the request.
The officer seemed to be having some difficulty in finding the code section
that he wanted but finally returned from his car (parked in the red zone)
and commenced to writing. Shortly after he began his task he asks for my
residence address. I decline to supply this information as there is no law
that requires me to give it. He makes a call on the radio and gets the
information any way. A little while later he asks me for "proof of
insurance". I am really ready to go ballistic, but I again restrain myself,
and instead only reply that "You don't need that for a parking ticket".
He finishes his writing and then instead of handing me the parking ticket I
was expecting, he asks for my autograph on a regular moving violation, get a
point on your record kind of ticket. I object to this stating that when he
proposed giving the ticket to me personally instead of writing it to the
company I did not understand that he was talking about writing this kind of
ticket, and could he please void that and write it to the owner of the
truck. He explained that it was against policy to void a ticket and he did
not want to loose his job. He explained that I really didn't have to go to
court if I just paid the amount that the court would send me in the mail.
I told him I would sign it under the condition that he write on the ticket
that is was not moving. He did so and I signed, agreeing to appear in court
on the 5th of March. I don't know for sure if he felt a little guilty, or if
he was being a smart ass, but as he handed me the ticket, he thanked me for
my cooperation. I said nothing, but took it as an insult.
Several days later I was talking to someone and they razzed me about getting
a ticket. I wondered how the heck they knew I got a ticket and he said he
heard the scanner. He informed me that the cop had driven by and reported
back that the truck was not blocking the intersection, but he was directed
to go back and write the ticket.
About the 14th of February I receive an amendment to the ticket notifying me
that the charge of violating section 16028(a) of the vehicle code was added
(no proof ins.) per order of the chief of police. This is getting really
About a week before my court date comes, I realize that I have not received
any notice from the court. This is not usual as the last two fixit tickets
I have had with this court house have arrived within days of my getting the
ticket. I called the court and to my surprise they could find no record of
the ticket being filed. On the date that I had promised to appear, I shoed
up at the clerks office and still no record. I told the clerk that I would
like to go to court anyway. She refused saying that I could not be put on
the docket if they had nothing on file. I insisted and we played the game
of "go up the ladder" until they ran out clerks. The position was
unchanged, I could not go to court.
The last gal suggested that I could go to court if they ever did file the
ticket, and I would be notified. I told her that I had no intention of
going to court as my agreement was to go to court today, not some iffy vague
date in the future. She suggested that I didn't have to go, but that I
could forfeit bail instead. I looked at her as she were nuts, and asked her
why she thought that not filling in time would make it my problem. No
answer other than a scowl. I started to leave, but turned and asked the
clerk he name. "My name is Sheila." and your last name Shelia? "I asked.
"I don't have to give you my last name, I am the only Shelia here and I am
the operations officer".
I started to leave, but then I turned back and asked "What would you do if
someone came in here and said Hi my name is Roger and I want to go to court,
but then that person refused to give you their last name? Again the scowl as
a response. I left with out any further inquiries.
I went home and wrote a letter addressed to the clerk of the court, the
judge that usually holds traffic court, the cop that wrote the ticket and
the DMV. I informed all of these folks that I had appeared in the clerks
office and offered to appear in court, but that my offer had been rejected
so I was concluding that my obligation to appear in court arising from the
ticket had been extinguished by my offer of performance.
The letters went out the next day and I heard nothing, until I received two
letters, one from the cop containing only another ticket amendment form,
this one stating the box marked commercial vehicle should be checked as per
court. The second letter was the computer generated "courtesy notice"
asking for $909 or an appearance in court on April 23rd.
A series of letters was exchanged and the ultimatum was given, you can
appear or not as you choose, but if you do not pay or appear a hold will be
placed you your drivers license, and this matter will be turned over to a
collection agency. This threat was signed by Sheila but this time she had
included her last name.
I considered blowing of the matter and filing suit in the event that anyone
would screw with my license, but instead I chose to go to court and avoid
the circus of a suspended license.
On April 23rd. I appeared and was arraigned on the two charges. I was then
asked for my plea, but instead I gave the judge a demurrer. For those of
you nor familiar with court procedure, a demurrer is a formal objection to
the accusatory pleading. Basically it tell the court that you have a really
good reason not to answer the question "How do you plead?".
Since the District Attorney was not in court that day, nor had he replied to
my letter asking for information and the procedure to make an appointment to
discuss the case, and when I had called his office the clerk had informed me
that "The District Attorney's office had nothing to do with traffic
tickets." The Judge decided to defer the matter until May 9th for a hearing.
My demurrer had 4 points.
First the ticket was invalid as the law required the ticket to be filed as
soon as practicable.
The second point was that since the court had evidently directed the cop to
amend the ticket to repair a perceived defect, that this should be construed
the same way that an order sustaining a demurrer with leave to amend would
be in that the law requires this to be done within 10 days and since the
correction was not attempted until 15 days after the time that they court
had no record, it must have been more than ten days.
The third ground was that since the law requires an accused to be tried
within 45 days of his arraignment unless the accused waives that right, the
court should start counting the 45 days from March 6th and that since more
than 45 days had elapsed since that date a speedy trial could not be had, so
this also mandates dismissal.
The fourth ground was that the policeman had no authority to file an
accusation without the approval of the District Attorney. The District
attorney had been given notice that I was contesting the charges and filed,
nothing, nor did he give me notice of his intention to file. Since he did
not inform me of his intention prior to the (2nd) arraignment date I then
was permitted to make his decision and I hereby elect not to be prosecuted.
Now if you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed the story and I solicit your
My experience with those kinds of people is that they always find
loopholes in their favor and they are all in cahoots. Good luck, you
need it. I always carry a disposable camera in my truck for these
sorts of situations.
On Thu, 3 May 2007 19:19:31 -0700, with neither quill nor qualm,
"Roger Shoaf" quickly quoth:
Most excellent, sir. I hope you win the case and it's reviewed
nationwide as a precedent. IANAL but your statements and positions
were logical and made sense to me with what I know of the laws.
On to Chapter 2, please!
Since your friend heard it go over the air, the dispatch center should
have the exchanges on tape. I would get an attorney and get a copy of
the officer stating that you were not in violation. Then call them all
on the carpet for an unjust ticket.
My first thought is how that level of testosterone was reached. Does your
company have a bad rep with the cops or city hall or did you stomp bunnies
in a previous life? Can you get a copy of the radio traffic?
Unless you are in a fairly large urban area, expect to lose the first
go-around. Many years ago, I was a deputy sheriff in a small county and
I've seen this sort of thing happen. The people who are "in power" are
largely there because they do the bidding of the folks who are the real
power. And when one of them makes a petty demand that someone be "stepped
on," the local authorities will oblige. Often, one has to go to the appeals
court level (where the local poo-bahs have no influence) to find justice.
Probably the best one I've seen was a neighbor kid (whom I'd known since he
was in grade school) who "acted out" a bit after his parents divorced when
he was about thirteen. He wasn't a bad kid and the trouble he got into was
typical kid stuff, but somehow three old women who were part of the local
power structure managed to have him charged with being a paid agent of the
communist party hired to disrupt the local high school. They claimed he'd
been seen in a fancy restaurant about 30 miles away in the presence of a
"known communist." Years later, he told me that the one and only time he'd
ever been in that particular establishment, he'd been with his mother. Now,
I knew her well and there are may things you might say about her, but
communist was not one of them. Anyhow, these three old biddies wanted him
behind bars (obligatory metal content...) and it cost his old man
(grandfather, actually) a fair chunk of change to get him of the hook...
First off I shun the thought of purchasing an attorney for anything. I can
get a copy of the tape for the asking if I am pushed to enter a plea, but
hopefully next week I will have nipped the whole thing in the bud.
I think it might be fun once I obtain a dismissal to sit down with the
police chief and have a little chat. I suspect he will start off by
justifying his position and asserting that strict enforcement of the law is
his policy etc.
Then I will show him a photo of the side of the truck where the CA # is
properly displayed. Show him a copy of the law that clearly spells out that
the display of the CA# is evidence of financial responsibility, Show him
then the statute that defines perjury, and the one that defines subornation
of perjury, and point out that if one were to take a view of strict law
enforcement, then he and his micrometer wielding officer should perhaps
think about a new line of work as once they get out of prison I don't think
they will be able to get their jobs back.
I wonder what the look on his face will be then?
At that point I might show him the statutes that define the powers of arrest
of a peace officer and point out to him that an arrest for an infraction
requires either an arrest warrant, or for the officer to have personally
witnessed the crime being committed. How then was it that the officer was
dispatched with orders of the chief to take action, the chief then knowing
these facts, how is it that he did not notice that an arrest was achieved
and the officer then released me from arrest with a citation?
If one were to believe in strict enforcement of the law, then it is clear
that one may be free to take a strict view of the federal statutes showing
the penalties for conspiracy to violate a persons constitutional rights
under color of law could be in play and if he were lucky he would get his
state conviction to run concurrent with his federal time.
At this point I will probably be satisfied with things and put the matter
behind me. 20 years ago I would have been eager to save the world and start
filing law suits and seeking grand jury indictments but now I suspect that a
strong quiet message will be sufficient to bring some sanity back to the
state of things foe a while.
Then I could walk across the street to the department of public works.
There I will have a little chat with the director and show him the photo of
the truck parked that he gave to his buddy the police chief and point out to
him that the curb adjacent to the crosswalk where the truck was parked in
such a manner as to allow a disabled veteran with a loyal canine companion
and service at his side to cross within the crosswalk unhindered until they
were to get to the curb. Of course then the man that lost his limbs in
service to his country would be faced with the curb. Just that little chunk
of concrete that under the Americans With Disabilities Act, should have been
fitted with a little ramp so that the man who fought so valiantly would be
able to get to the bank and make the payment on his families farm before the
deadline and the bank closes.
Did I mention that it was the director of public works that was the person
that placed this whole ball in motion?
My call is that it was not a macho thing, but rather petty bureaucrats doing
what petty bureaucrats do.The cop that wrote the ticket is a nice enough
guy,but he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I suspect part of the
reason he is working in this little hick town is because he could not hire
on anywhere else. After my court appearance on april 23rd, I stopped in at
the police station and was doing a little bit of scut work like getting
copies of the photos they took and asking innicent sounding questions about
their procedure and the like. The cop that had written the ticket was right
there, and we chatted for almost half an hour.
It appears to me that this guy does not have a clue as to the difference
between a parking ticket and a regualr ticket. He used the regular ticket
because the parking ticket did not have a check box for the crosswalk
charge. Inother words this guy IMO isto be malicious. Ever notice how
these kind of folks tend to obtain civil service positions?
Can you get a copy of the radio traffic?
If it still exists I can, some places only keep copies for 30 to 60 days
however before they record over the tapes so the traffic from January could
be long gone. Of course if it has been destroyed in the ordinary course of
business I can have an additional grounds for dismissal as the very evidence
that would exonerate me has been destroyed by the same folks that denied me
a speedy trial. The proper time to ask for that is after the plea, and
before the trial, so I will get a copy if I can and must go to trial. I
suspect however that this case is going to die a sudden death next week.
Go get em' Roger, and please keep us up to date as time allows.
It shouldn't be all that hard to get hold of the recordings if it they
haven't been conveniently 'lost'.
(I have a frustrating issue with LAPD... they like to park in the red
zone at the end of my street while eating at the many restaurants
available there. The result is an already dangerous intersection
converted to treacherous, courtesy of the folks there to make the
community safe. I've been going round with them for decades about it...
seems like every time I call the station, it's always the 'first they've
heard of it'. Makes you wanna drink...)
Come on, Nick. Ease up. Some of us like knowing how our friends fair. I,
for one, found it very interesting,
Anyone ever notice how the law tends to beat up on those that comply, and,
somehow, let the real thugs slide by?
Nick I agree that it is off topic, and I try not to make a habit of such
things. My reasoning to do this is it seems that most of the folks here
tend to be intelligent and articulate enough to appreciate the irony of the
Hopefully they may never need to address a problem such as this, or a
overbearing building inspector, or fire marshal, or a neighbor that has
nothing better to do than to go around sticking their noses in other peoples
business and stirring up trouble by inciting a bureaucrat. But my
experience in life suggests that if one does run across one of these
situations it is best to prepare to defend ones ground, and stand ready to
apply a spanking of one sort or another so the vile taste of their own
medicine will perhaps remind them that the power we grant our public
servants is to be used judiciously, and without malice.
In the eternal words of Thomas Jefferson, he wrote as one of the
insufferable abuses that King George had foisted on his colonial subjects
"...He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of
officers to harass our people and eat out their substance...".
Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.
It might be fun, but you don't want a pissed-off police chief on yer
ass if it's gonna end right there.
It might also be fun to ask him if the media would be interested in
the story, including names and details.
I hope you are wrong about the precedent business as that would require me
to lose and appeal rather than to declare victory and go home.
Chapter two will probably be done on May 9th. My comment to the Judge at
the conclusion of the last hearing was "Well Your Honor, in 12 years I have
lived in this county I am four for four in your court, and I hope than when
we se each other next time it will go to five for five.
I was encouraged to make this comment on that day for several reasons.
First while I was waiting my turn, I observed several instances where he
jumped down the throat of some folks that were back in court being asked why
they had not paid an installment on a fine or why they had not bothered to
show up in court in a timely manner. His comments were in the nature of
your obligation was to do such and such, and I always make it clear that it
is your responsibity to show up/pay on time as agreed/etc. In other words a
deal is a deal and no amount of BS is going to change that.
Also when I had indicated that I felt the DA's office had been blowing me
off and that it was indicated to me that they had nothing to do with traffic
tickets, he (being a former District Attorney) looked me straight in the eye
and asked me if I was suggesting that the District Attorney, the elected
representitive of the People of the State of California, has nothing to do
with bringing a criminal action in court-after all the police officer is
only a witness or that is the way it was the last time I checked.
While he was giving this speech, I knew from his tone that he suspected that
I, like so many sorry saps have attempted before, was attempting to blow
smoke up his robes. I responded without hesitation "Your Honor, I could not
agree more with that observation, as a matter of fact I hope you remember
both your words and my agreement with them when the court has an opportunity
to read and consider my pleading.." This caused him to lose his skeptical
demeanor and pick up my papers while he commented that he would remember
them. This seemed to pique his interest and I detected a slightest hint of