Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Something Rare Indeed.

This is a true story...I feel like a successful lawyer today. Even though I am no where near a real lawyer, I won my first case in court!

The city of Phoenix, in an effort to squeeze more money from the tax paying public, has put up camera on the major highway systems in Phoenix. If you go 10 Miles an hour over the speed limit you get a nice photo taken of you infraction and a letter sent to your home address. I got such a letter a few months ago for something I supposedly did in December. Received a nice little photo of myself traveling along Interstate 10, supposedly traveling at 77 miles per hour.

Well, I don't go that fast because I know where the cameras are and I use my cruise control. So, just before signing the "guilty" portion of the summons, and thereby forfeiting $181.00, I decided to watch the video they made of my infraction. To my amazement, I saw not only my car but another vechicle approximately the same size as mine, go zooming from in back of me in my lane to my right and passing me. I then noticed that my car had stayed parallel to a city bus in the far right lane...
So to me this meant two things. One: I was going the same speed as a city bus. Second: That car that passed me from in back of me must have triggered the cameras and I got left holding the bag.

I requested a court hearing. Today I went to downtown to the court house. They had a Department of Transportation Officer there presenting cases to the court and a judge. I was waiting there a good 45 minutes. One lady in front of me had been nailed for going...coincidentely...77 miles per hour! She plead her case in broken English, claiming her husband had turned red and the veins began to pop in his head, so she sped to the doctor. The judge didn't buy this and ordered her to pay the fine and seek an appeal.

As time passed and the cases in the court dwindled down, I began to get a little nervous wondering if I would be able to speak clearly and intelligibly about what I believed to be my case.

My heart raced as my name was butchered by the judge. I waved my hand and was asked to approach and be seated. I was sworn in and the Judge repeated his spiel about this being a hearing and that the state was going to present evidence against me and that I could then question the officer and then argue my case.

I was delighted that the officer produced photos of the infraction that included surrounding vehicles and indeed included the mystery car that I believed had cause my dilemma.

Once the Officer was finished I began my questioning: "Do you see a car to my cars right?" Yes..."Do you see that the car to my right in partially in my lane?" Yes... 'In the next picture, do you see a city bus parallel to my car?" Yes...

The officer handed the photos to the judge. I then began...
"Your Honor, I drove these highways from August 08 until Jan 09 twice a day to drive my son to and from school. I knew exactly where these cameras are....When I received the notice in the mail I was puzzled as to how I could have been going 77 miles per hour since my custom was to set my cruise control on 65 miles per hour...then when I saw the video I realized there may be a flaw in the system. I am under oath and I believe that it was that car that pass me from behind in my lane and to my right that set off the camera, unless of course that other driver also received a ticket at the exact same time I did."

The Judge looked bemused, was his day was being broken up by an actual argument...?
The DPS Officer produced a small video console and watched the film of my car a few times, showed it to me and said..."Your Honor, I do see a car passing his and the state cannot verify that that car did not indeed trip the cameras, therefor the state will withdraw its case..."
The Judge looked at me over his glasses and said...I smiled a we bit. "Good for you..." Said the Judge.

I asked, "Am I dismissed, Judge?"
He said, "Yes, you are dismissed. And enjoy your time here in Phoenix."
"Thank you, Your Honor," I said. I turned to the Officer and said, "Thank you Officer."

He turned to me and said in a low voice, "Your welcome. Good job!"
I walked out of the hushed court room to the hallway and pump my fist. "Yeah!" I said out loud. Now I know how Matlock feels."
Obviously, there are flaws in the "camera" systems that catch speeders. I happened to get caught up by one of those flaws and luckily for me, I was able to demonstrate it to the court. I firmly believe I was correct.

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