Monday, December 04, 2006

Tail Light Justice, con't - #4

Well, I no longer have the threat of financial penalties or jail time looming over me.

My court date was scheduled for this morning at 10:30AM. After an hour of waiting, my case was finally brought up at 11:30. (Tip: if your time is important and you get into a lot of legal trouble, change your last name to something like "Aaaaaaaa"; they went through cases alphabetically.)

The Assistant District Attorney had been pretty liberally dismissing non-moving violations if defendants brought proof that they had remedied the problem. When I came up though, upon seeing my insurance card, he initially made me an offer to dismiss the insurance charge if I plead guilty to the taillights. You can be sure if that was his final offer, I would have wound up going to a trial date - I didn't do anything wrong and wasn't about to plead guilty to anything.

I told the ADA that my taillights weren't actually ever broken and showed him the signed Statement of Correction. Fortunately, that was enough to get him to change his mind and motion to dismiss both charges, which the judge accepted.

(Phew).

I'm glad both charges were dismissed. I don't really feel like "justice" was served though, since this whole ordeal should have never happened.

My next step will be filing a formal complaint with the Monroe County Sheriff's Department. I don't have a particularly high level of faith in "the system" at this point, so I don't really expect anything to come from my complaint, but I feel rather compelled that filing such a complaint is the right thing to do.


Also, just some interesting observations from the whole court room experience:

First, only myself and the ADA bothered to wear a suit. Out of the approximately 50 defendants in the court room with me, close to around 40 or more of them wore the equivalent of jeans and a t-shirt.

Second, there were two cases that came up while I was waiting where the officer who issued the ticket/arrest was needed. In both, the officers weren't present, and rather than dismissing, the judge made the defendants wait to see if the officer would arrive during the entire court session. If the defendant has to be there on time, I think officers should have to be as well. Maybe that's just me.

Third, in the first case that came up, the defendant made a deal with the DA to plead guilty and have a sentencing recommendation of probation. The ADA turned the tables on him, and in court asked for incarceration, and the judge wound up sentencing him to the maximum time (90 days). I'm all for bad people going to jail, but this left a pretty sour taste in my mouth, especially as I was waiting for my case to be heard before the same judge.

Fourth, the one thing I did appreciate, was that during a court recess, the ADA explained generally what would happen once the judge got back: How he would make you an offer before the judge, and you could take it or plead not guilty. He also pointed out that because of policies of "the Court" or "the District Attorney's Office", no deals would be made for two things. One was using a cellphone while driving; I'm not remembering what the other one was, but it seemed equally frivolous.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Yahoo, my brother is no longer a criminal!