Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I wish the OP on my ticket meant Other People's

Never get a ticket in Overland Park. Really, just don't do it. Especially if you're not white. Or, if you have a job. Or, a child. But, if you really MUST get a ticket, I mean if you just can't help it, or really can't resist the challenge - I have the fool-proof way to get out of it. If you're willing to drive to the courthouse 7 times. And if you have a baby to bring with you (those things are great in an IRS audit situation, too!) And, definitely make sure that the cop that gives you a ticket is a nincompoop.

I did it a couple years ago. Got the ticket, that is. My court date wasn't until a whole 11 months later - but that's a whole other story. After 6 trips to the courthouse where I found someone to watch my baby, or scheduled it during her rare naptime - I headed to what I thought was going to be another rescheduling. But, it didn't turn out that way.

Walked in with baby around 8:30am. Sat through the first session of trials - (please, please, please remember what I say about being white when you go to court, I swear it helps!) Was first told by the prosecutor that I was an idiot for going to trial for a speeding ticket. Was then told by the judge that my baby would distract me from representing myself and getting a fair trial. I asked if I had another option, she said not really, but if it had been her child she would have found a babysitter. "Oh, like I did for the first 6 times I came up here, your honor?" is what I wanted to say, but I just noted the advice she gave me in my notebook to prepare for the appeal to this trial that I was sure I was going to lose. I sat around for another 2 hours until I was next on the docket.

I sat patiently in the defendant's table listening to the officer that pulled me over talk about his ray gun and how he calibrated it. I scribbled interestedly like it meant something to me. The prosecutor smirked at who she thought was a girl who got bad advice from the internet. Then she had the officer identify me as the person he pulled over. She asked how he identified me when he pulled me over. He said he did with my Missouri license. (Scribbled real notes now.) She asked if he was given a reason that I was speeding. He said that I told him I was rushing to get back to work. (Scribbling with fervor.) I'm not quite sure what else he was asked, but I was ready to take my first witness down.

"Hello, Officer."
"How do you remember I was going 48 miles an hour 11 months ago?"
"I have it here in my notes."
"And it says that my speed was 48 miles?"
"Do you remember how fast you told me I was going when you first pulled me over?"
"You don't remember telling me I was going 38 miles an hour? Then when I asked what the posted speed limit was, and you said 35 and I repeated that I was going 38, you replied oh, I meant you were going 43.?"
"No, I don't recall that."
"Is it possible that you said that?"
"I don't think so. But yes, it is possible."
"What would cause you to make a mistake like that?"
"It wouldn't be a mistake. I just would have misspoke."
"Well, what would make you misspeak?"
"I'm not sure. I am human, I guess."
"And in your notes, you have written that I presented my Missouri license to identify myself?"
"Yes," pretends to look at his notes, "your Missouri license."
"So, if I told you that I presented my Florida Driver's License, that would surprise you because you usually write good notes?"
"Yes, that would surprise me."
"What would make you miswrite that in your notes?"
"I'm not sure."
"And in those same notes, you wrote down that I told you I was in a hurry to get back to work?"
"So, again, you would be surprised to know that I was not working at this time, and actually told you I was on my way to the doctor's office when you pulled me over? Do you normally make this many mistakes in your notes?"
"No, not often, or ever if I remember correctly."
"So, when you captured my speed on the radar gun, does it automatically feed the information onto the ticket?"
"No. I write the speed in."
"So, could you have written it in incorrectly?"
"No, not really."
"There is no way that that could happen? No time between when you clocked the speed, and when you told me I was going 38 miles an hour, then - no, my bad - 43 miles an hour, and wrote down the wrong state drivers license and mixing up work and doctors appointment, that you could have seen the wrong speed on the gun or written a different speed on the ticket?"
"No, I just copy it from the machine."
And feeling a bit of a rush . . . I asked, "but, you ARE human, right?"
"Yes. Yes, ma'am, I am."

No further questions. The prosecution rested and I got to call my first and only witness. Myself. Well, and Demi.

I got to go on the stand and testify that I was not speeding that day, that I was not a speeder, that there were other cars on the road with me, that there was ABsolutely no way I was going 48 miles an hour in a 35 zone (grandma driver, people!). The extremely bitchy prosecutor who still thought she was dealing with an amateur (Hello - I've seen Legally Blond!) stood up to cross examine me. She smugly asked me:
"Okay, Ms. Rosenblatt, if you weren't going 48, how fast were you going?"
"It was quite some time ago, but if the speed limit was 35 miles an hour, I was going 35 miles an hour or less."
"How do you know that if it was such a long time ago?"
"Because I'm not a speeder."
"So, you're saying you've never speeded?" (Yes, she said speeded. It made me smile.)
"I'm not a speeder." (any real fan of Elle Woods would have jumped in with an objection. Answer the question, dammit.)
No further questions.
Her closing argument was snarky and smug and full of NEVER, EVER, EVER SPEEDED loveliness that I was kinda sad to have it end. And because I was nervous to stand up and give mine.

But I did. I told the judge that despite his human intention of writing the right things down that day, he made too many mistakes in this incident to make him a credible witness. And as the prosecutions sole witness, they did not satisfactorily prove their case, and so her only choice would be to find me not guilty. Then Demi - who had been silent and lovely this entire time finally spoke up with like 20 seconds of dribble. The judge laughed at Demi, scribbled behind her bench for a few seconds and said, "The prosecution has not proven its case. It's dismissed."

I didn't know where to go. I did know I couldn't look at that prosecutor. I don't like to gloat. In public. I just got my things together and walked out into the hallway. I wasn't sure if I had to sign anything or go somewhere to tape a commercial for Disney World . . . but the officer came out soon after I did.
"Do I need to sign anything?"
"Nope - you're free to go."
"Sorry." I didn't know what else to say.
"It's okay. It's all just a game."

Which kinda pissed me off, but then I realized, who gives a shit?
I won.


Sandy Price said...

Damn good story. Worth the wait!

Do you see me? said...


Anonymous said...

An absurd and lovely account.

Logtar said...

The its just a game comment pissed me off as well, but like you said WIN! :) cheers!

I'm taking in all the happenings in Kansas City and saving you all the trouble . . . I'll let you know whether to soak it up or squeeze it out!!