Sunday, August 15, 2010

L "The Ticket" Part III



I said before that all you need to do is follow the process and you will eventually have your day in court, and that is true. When you do finally get your moment to tell your side of the events, it’s important that the opportunity not be fleeced. You may only have one chance to set the record straight and the most effective way to do that is the boy scout motto; “be prepared”. First, you want to dress accordingly. You won’t need a suit but you do need to show respect to the court and I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you what that means. Secondly, when you are given the opportunity to speak, you should do so in an calm, concise and thoughtful manner and try and leave your emotions out of it, and the best way for me to accomplish this is to prepare a statement in advance. Being a well thought out and logical thinker is a gift that God blessed me with I suppose and for that I grateful, however I’m not a particularly fast thinker. I think I could be a dynamite debater if I was given hours to conjure my rebuttals, but of course you’re not, therefore I would be horrible at it. So I find the best way to insure that I get all of my ideas out clearly and orderly, and in a timely fashion, is to prepare a statement in advance and simply read from it. If I neglected to do this there is little doubt that I would forget something crucial or just simply get jumbled in the heat of the moment and ultimately sound like an idiot. Well I don’t know about you, but I didn’t spend two hours in prison, get talked down too by a butch bailiff, get harassed by a snot nosed ADA and pine on it for 6 months to sound like a idiot. I did all that to get this fucking thing dismissed. I did it for the precedent. I’m in it to win it baby! So I prepared a statement to read from while in front of the Judge and as luck would have it, the experience of authoring this blog over the years has taught me a few things, but mostly how to more effectively convey my thoughts on paper.

In the days leading up to my court date I completed my statement. I touched on a few ideas that I have had for a while as well as some other things I felt important and it reads as follows:

Before I begin my testimony your Honor, I feel as though it is my duty to inform you that at the time I appeared in court to enter a not guilty plea for this citation I was misinformed and made to feel intimidated by the Assistant District Attorney. The ADA who spoke to me indicated there was a substantial risk in pleading not guilty as there was the potential for a considerably steeper fine if found guilty. The ADA more than hinted to this supposed fact in an attempt to get me to change my plea. He informed me that the maximum fine if found guilty for this infraction was $1000 and said that I would be wise to plead guilty for no points on my record and only pay a $190 fine. Previously, I read on the Municipal Court Violation Look-Up page online, that the maximum fine for this offense for the first infraction was $190. The maximum fine for the second offense was $250 and nowhere did it indicate the potential for that exorbitant amount. Interestingly, when I first went into the courthouse that day, the administrative secretary in the traffic citations office reiterated that fine information to me exactly. When I informed her of my desire to plead not guilty she sent me across the hall to the courtroom at which point the ADA made his effort to convince me to change my plea. It’s worth noting that the two other individuals who wished to plead not guilty that day quickly changed their minds after talking to the ADA for just a few minutes. Your Honor, I understand that the courts are backed up and it’s in everyone’s best interest to expedite this process. However, I am afforded a right to a trial and I should not be made to feel threatened simply for exercising it. As a citizen of this City, I do not appreciate these bullying tactics by court officials and I can only imagine how a lesser prepared individual might have been coerced. That is the word for such behavior I believe, coercion.

To the issue at hand your Honor, I am not guilty of this violation.

I was stopped at a red light on Casino Center at Fremont St. when an older couple, standing on the curb right next to my cab raised their hands indicating that they desired taxi service and asked me through my window if I could take them to Bally’s. I told them “of course” and within seconds they were in my cab. Just as my customers shut the door, the Officer rounded the corner from westbound Carson, saw that I was loading and pulled me over shortly thereafter. I don’t believe any of that differs from the officers testimony.

5 years ago during the process of obtaining my Taxicab Permit, I was required to complete a driver safety course as mandated and executed by the Nevada Taxicab Authority. Sr. Investigator Scott Henneforth facilitated the class I attended and I can only presume he was chosen as instructor for his expertise in the administrative enforcement of the taxi industry. During that training, Sr. Investigator Henneforth spoke extensively on the matter of picking up “flags“, or customers outside of cab stands. Sr. Investigator Henneforth stated that a driver could not park at a bus stop, monorail station or a limo stand or similar in an attempt to solicit, or SEEK fares. In other words the spirit of the ordinance, through the eyes of Sr. Investigator Henneforth, seemed to be that a cab is not to steal or attempt to steal business from other modes of transportation, a concept that I understand and agree with. I understand the reason why I can’t park at a bus stop and solicit business from those awaiting the bus. Furthermore, the general message from the Sr. Investigator regarding the loading of flags was that it was inadvisable from a personal safety standpoint, not in any way explicitly against the law. That was my interpretation of the Sr. Investigator’s instruction, and in focusing on the language of the ordinance itself, I believe such an interpretation is validated.

I was cited for violating L.V.O 11.60.040 and interestingly this ordinance contains a provision within it for doing exactly what I did. I feel the ordinance is very clear on this matter when it states: “This provision shall NOT prevent the operator of a taxicab from temporarily stopping, in accordance with other stopping or parking regulations, at ANY place for the purpose of and while actually engaged in the expeditious loading or unloading of passengers.” That is precisely what I did and that is the Officer’s testimony as well. I was in accordance with other parking and stopping regulations when I stopped at the red light. I expeditiously loaded the passengers. The couple placed themselves in my taxi as fast as they physically could, which was a matter of seconds. Furthermore, and to Sr. Investigator Henneforth’s point, I did not attempt to steal business from other modes of transportation nor did I even seek a fare as prescribed by the totality of the 11.60 subsection. A fare sought me. I did not solicit a fare. A fare solicited me. The raising of your arm when one is in need of taxi service is a universal form of solicitation that is bound by no language your Honor, and I made no attempts to create business that would not have been there for me otherwise.

In conclusion your Honor, I request that you dismiss this charge and enable me to continue doing my duty of serving the public, something that the State of Nevada, The Taxicab Authority, the F.B.I via a criminal background check, the Department of Transportation, a board certified Physician and a Nevada Taxicab Medallion Certificate holder have all concluded I am fit to do.

I was very pleased with how my statement turned out and was even more confident that I was going to win with it. But I think the biggest part of me was just anxious to see if a Judge would agree with my interpretation. I wanted to know I wasn’t crazy. I followed the process, as lame as it was, and in doing so I had earned the right to test my theory. I was excited I guess you could say. So excited in fact, that on the eve of my big day, mere hours before I was to finally offer my statement to the court, I got pulled over again for picking up a flag downtown.

To be continued…PART IV


goateedude said...

You're killing me. How many damn parts is this story? Just messing with you...again, I hate cliffhangers.

aburtch said...

Bravo! Excellent statement. You've clearly outlined why it is that you are innocent.

Having had experiences with judges and lawyers myself, my only comment would be to strike the first paragraph completely or move it to the end. If you lead with your complaint, it gets you off on the wrong foot and the first impression the judge has of you is a negative one.

The judge knows all about the system and doesn't care. He/she only cares about moving trials along as quickly as possible, and there is nothing they can or will do about the state-sponsored extortion. If it were me, I would omit that portion all together in hopes of having the judge's full attention on the facts of the case at hand.

That said, good luck!

Parx said...

Just to offer encouragement, I have been following this site, and especially this story through "Bloglines" and wanted you to know I'm enjoying your writing and especially this tale. Please keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

quite impressive!

Bluejack said...

aah! don't leave us hanging!

this is a great story, and i applaud your effort. i have a horrible feeling, based on my own experiences with the courts, as to how it might turn out, but i'm rooting for you, man!

Anonymous said...

great read!

Anonymous said...

I wish you the best of luck in your quest to disprove the "you can't fight city hall" adage.

I agree with aburtch about skipping the first paragraph. It's not relevant to the case and the judge will likely have little interest. It's a separate issue that I hope you pursue.

It's criminal the way they try to intimidate and shake down people while denying them due process.

A fly in the ointment may be that you were stopped in the street for a red light, where it is not legal to "park". If you had seen the couple flag you and pulled into a parking lot to load them, I think you'd have a better case.

Lastly, a couple of typo's that I noticed. They may not even be in the copy you'll have with you before the judge, but thought I'd point them out for correction.

"Before I begin my testimony your Honor, I feel as though I it is..."

should be changed to "Before I begin my testimony your Honor, I feel as though it is..."

"...the Officer rounded the corner from westbound Carson, seen that I was loading..."

Should be changed to "...the Officer rounded the corner from westbound Carson, saw that I was loading,..."

Again, best wishes and I'm rooting for you. A fascinating read.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how things are different from state to state. In Colorado, if ANYTHING is "typo'd" on a ticket, its viewed as inadmissible and tossed if contested. If that "cop" had said what he said in a Colorado courtroom, the judge would have stopped the proceedings right there and dismissed the case there and then.

Great read on a (at that time) slow fare evening while staging at a starbucks (free wifi rules!). Of course as soon as I got to reading it, the bells went through the roof and I was, as you say "back to work". lol.

Looking forward to the continuing saga, and of course the blog in general!

Rollin' in Denver.

Andy Steiner said...

Mistake #1.

Never EVER admit to committing the act with which you were charged.

Mistake #2.

A six month wait for a court date is likely unconstitutionally too long.

Just sayin...