Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm a Loser Baby...

I have a confession to make.

I rehearse my court testimony. Sometimes in my patrol car. Talking to myself I suppose.

This had an odd effect today, because as I was rehearsing for a carpool lane violation I realized I had made a mistake during another carpool testimony the previous week. I realized why my guy was found not guilty, even though it was pretty much a slam dunk.

Hint: It generally helps when you mention that the driver was the only occupant of the vehicle on carpool violations.

This is part of the reason I love going to traffic court. I really dig the challenge of having to get EVERYTHING right, and spit it all out in the right order. And, when I eff it all up, I learn from it and don't repeat the mistake.

I have been told that my testimony flows well. I have been asked to help others with their testimony. I have even had people adopt parts of my style.

Some people abhor traffic court. Not me. I guess I'm just weird or something.


Mrs. "Smith" said...

You're weird, honey, trust me.

Tonya said...

HA HA! You walked RIGHT into that one. Score one for Mrs. Smith!

So I've only actually ever been pulled over twice in my life -- and I've only received one ticket, which I fought in court. It was for failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.

I was making a left turn onto a two way street. The cars on the other street did not have a stop sign. The stop line was set far back. So once you stopped at the stop line, you had to creep forward to see around the van and the trees to see if it was safe to turn left. Not only did I stop at the line, I stopped two other times (once to let a car pass) and then went when it was safe.

About 1 block later I was pulled over by a motorcycle cop. He immediately told me that I failed to come to a complete stop when I was making that left and said that he was talking to his fellow officer and they both saw me. I tried to explain that I had indeed stopped THREE complete times because the intersection was blind, but he wouldn't listen to me at all.

So I went to court because it just wasn't fair. I actually went back to that intersection a few hours later to take pictures of what it looked like and how you HAD to pull forward after stopping at the line to see what was coming. I showed the judge the pictures and I also said, "I don't think the officer is lying, your honor, but he told me that he was talking to his fellow officer at the time. I think it's likely that he did not see me come to a complete stop the first three times because they were talking. I even had to stop to let a car pass. I believe he only saw me as I finally made the turn, which was after stopping at the line and stopping two more times."

The judge asked if that was true, had he been talking to another officer. The officer told the truth and said he had.

The judge let me off! Woo hoo! You know, if I had DONE it, I would have accepted my fate, paid my fine, gone to traffic school and have been done with it. But I didn't DO IT! Not only did I NOT do it, I was super, extra careful. That's why I took it to court - it just wasn't fair.

Anyway, I went up and spoke to the officer afterward (he was nice in court, actually). He asked me why I didn't tell him this when he stopped me! Argh! I told him I DID try to tell him, but he wouldn't listen to me, he just wanted to write the ticket. He actually apologized and said he was satisfied that the judge let me off. I thought that was nice of him.

Anyway, score one for me!

P.S. I have a friend who has anxiety about talking on the phone. She always practices what she's going to say and sometimes even writes a little script for herself.

Sean said...

I have always prided myself on my courtroom testimony and preparation - and I have found it a great mark of how good of an officer a lot of people really are. If you pay attention to these details, then you do to the others in my book...

Plus, it's fun to play the game with the defense attorneys :D Especially when you win, or even better when they want to plea out because the LAST thing they want is you testifying to what happened. That's when you know you learned it right.

and to hit your original point - we ALL make mistakes doing it & the challenge is not to take it personally and to learn from it... at least in my opinion.

Berserk said...

I'm just gonna second mrs. smith and say you are weird. There are a few things out there that irritate me as much as testifying in court does. Well, there's something. At least one thing. Give me a minute... maybe I can come up with something........

no..... maybe not.

USAincognito said...

Yeah...I was reading in a back issue of APB that you should orally practice before testimonies, interviews, etc. That way you can make sure it will flow smoothly from your head to your mouth. ;)

Albany Lawyer said...

I've cross-examined many officers (in NY) about field sobriety tests. They always get something wrong. Sometimes they get a lot wrong. Maybe it's just the training in NY. But I suspect you just haven't faced a tough cross yet.

Anonymous said...

You're just Precious!!

(Thats what my officer calls me when he catches me doing that!)