Monday, August 30, 2010

L "The Ticket" Part IX



In the early morning of March 23rd, 2010, I returned to the TA courtroom for my appeal hearing. The TA board of directors meets monthly to discuss and rule on any and all issues that pertain to the taxi industry and they decide everything in the business. They decide what the meter rate is, they decide how many medallions are issued, they decided who can buy medallions, they decide who gets a permit, they decide who keeps a permit. They pen the laws that pertain to the industry and among many other things, this panel decides if the citation hearings were conducted justly and thus has the authority to overrule previous judgments. These meetings are generally as highly attended as they are highly contended and some of the discussions have dissolved into heated exchanges in the past. However the appeal hearings appear first on the agenda, an hour before the more important industry concerns are addressed so at this early hour, only the relevant parties were present.

The agenda indicated that there were to be three individuals bringing appeals today and I was ecstatic to see that I would be the last of us drivers to be heard. I considered it a very nice advantage to be able to observe the two cases prior to mine, especially since the lawyers outnumbered the drivers at this point better than 2:1. Sitting elevated on a long straight table at the front of the room were the members of the Board. Six individuals make up the Nevada Taxicab Board of Directors, all of which with an “Esq.” culminating their nameplates. All of them appeared to be under 40 years of age easily and despite this, I’m certain that each of their resumes are exemplary. I can imagine that residing in a Governor appointed position does wonders for fast tracking one’s career. On the morning of March 23rd only five of the Board Members were present and they included Chairman Stacie Truesdell Michaels, Vice Chairman Susan Carrasco O‘Brien, Member John G. Marushok and Member Joshua C. Miller. Apparently, making an indication of one’s middle name is an integral part of Board Membership. Sitting below and to the left of the Board of Directors at a perpendicular table, and also present on behalf of the Taxi Cab Authority were Deputy Attorney General Kimberly Arguello who I believe acts as general counsel for the TA and sitting to her right was the Administrator Gordon Walker, who would now be hearing me speak on this matter for the second time. I wondered if he remembered me? I don’t know for sure if the Administrator obtained his law degree as well but it would not surprise me in the least. To the right of the Board of Directors at another perpendicular table sat reporting secretary Barbara Webb. Two more tables in front of the bench were situated for the prosecution & defense. Sitting at the left table was Deputy Attorney General Scott Davis who would speak for the State. I guess 7 lawyers isn’t enough for one side so they bring in the big gun from the Attorney General’s office to sit in as Prosecutor. As it were, Mr. Davis did not utter a single word throughout all of the hearings. He sat silently, head down, thumbs crossed. The Board did a swell enough job of slicing and dicing on their own I imagine. There were only four other people in the courtroom at this time. The first driver or respondent, was a middle aged Chinese man who was there to appeal a conviction on a ticket regarding running a red light. The second driver was a Somali and he was appealing a conviction for long-hauling. I was there, of course, to appeal my conviction of interfering with traffic while loading. The fourth person was my girlfriend, Michelle, whom I convinced to tag along for a few reasons but mainly because I wanted her to see what all the time I had spent preparing for this was for. And there’s no harm in having a cheering section. In retrospect however, I think the fact that I asked her to go had much more to do with how important I felt this day was for me. I was about to find out if I was totally out of my fucking mind or not and I needed somebody close to me to witness it.

By this time the Members of the Board had taken their seats on the elongated bench, everyone else seemed to be in their places and it appeared as though the court reporter would be calling the hearing into session any minute. Michelle sat quietly as I looked over and re-read some of my pages. I was just starting to feel pretty good about my chances and then to my right, I noticed the courtroom doors swing open as someone walked in and I could not believe my eyes. It was Bishop! That motherfucker. I stood up and met him halfway across the room and shook his hand, “no fucking way man,” I believe were the words that stumbled out of my mouth. During one of our phone conversations he had seemingly innocently asked me when my appeal hearing was, but I just thought he was curious about how much time I had to get ready or something. I never dreamt that the guy would show up here like this. A true friend. Plus, it appeared as though he was on the tail end of an all night binder which in my mind made his surprise appearance even more awesome. We sat down, Michelle elated to see Bishop as well, and the three of us whispered a conversation while we waited. At one point I opened my manila folder to look at my papers and Bishop, sensing that I was about to ask him something, was very quick to say, “don’t show me anything ok, I’m here as your friend.” Yes of course I thought, how stupid of me. A short time later the court reporter called the meeting into session, offered the floor to the Chairman of the Board Stacie Truesdell Michaels and away we went…

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: Good morning everyone, I now call today’s session to order…First item on the Agenda is driver appeals. I see there are three driver appeals today and everyone is present. Gentlemen some information regarding the procedure for appeals; we are here to determine if your previous hearings were conducted properly. We are not here to listen to any new testimony. Everyone has received a copy of the minutes (transcript) and any attempts to introduce new testimony will be overruled. In order for a successful appeal you must establish a reversible error that resulted in a unjust hearing. If this board determines that a reversible error occurred than we will decide what action to take at that time, ok? First up is …

Bishop and I shared a glance the instant she said “reversible error“. That’s the term for it I know, Bishop had taught me that much, but just hear it reaffirmed like that was a lightning bolt for me. It was like they softly lobbed it up and all I had to do was spike it home. Everything the Chairman just said was exactly what I had prepared to do.

The Chinese man was first on the Agenda and as I said, he was there to appeal his conviction of running a red light. He received the citation on westbound Spring Mtn. at the light to make a left turn onto the I-15 South on-ramp. The officer observed the alleged offense from the I-15 itself which put him at a radical elevated position, so much so that the observance of that light from that position would have been impossible. The Chinese man, in perfect English, argued his case slowly but surely and simply pointed out the fact that from the Officer’s perspective, it would not have been possible to see what he said he did. At one point Bishop whispered to me, “This is how I want you to be, you see how calm this guy is? He’s in no hurry and that’s good. Don’t be fast, be clear. ok?” That turned out to be very good advice. The Chinese driver did such a good job that the Board agreed with his analysis and next thing you knew he got his conviction overturned and the case dismissed. What’ya know? The part I didn’t understand about that was that I can’t believe that the man didn’t bring up that exact argument in his first hearing. Maybe the Judge didn’t buy it. That was interesting though.

Next up was the Somali driver who was there to appeal his conviction for long-hauling. Unfortunately the man had a terrible time trying to get his point across and was struggling mightily with the English language, repeating the same phrases time after time and Chairman Michaels just kept saying over and over again, “Sir if you have nothing to add than we will conclude this hearing.” As troubling as it was to see the guy struggling that much, the incident really served to drive home the point I made before about allowing drivers to pay for their own translators if they wish. I fail to see what the major problem with that is. Nonetheless, I had indeed learned a few things while watching the chances at redemption for the two drivers before me and now it was finally time for mine. It was time to put my all of my boy scout preparation to work. It was time to test my amateur legal theories in front of the group of individuals with the authority to actually do something about them.

Chairman Michaels called my name and asked me to come forward. Michelle gave my hand a squeeze and as I passed in front of Bishop he whispered to me again, “they’re not ready for you.” While making my way to the defendants desk I realized that the room had substantially more people in it now than it had at the onset of these proceedings. Good I thought, the more people that heard what I was about to say the better. I sat down, removed my papers from their manila folder, clicked the top of my pen and I can honestly say that I was not the slightest bit nervous…

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: Mr. Andrew Funk, am I saying that correctly?

DRIVER FUNK: Yes your Honor.

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: Ok good, you were convicted of interfering with traffic while loading is that correct?

DRIVER FUNK: I believe that’s correct.

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: I see are you planning on speaking today?

DRIVER FUNK: That’s correct your Honor, I have prepared something to read from if that would be alright?

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: That would be good thank you.

DRIVER FUNK: Members of the Board, prior to the initial hearing regarding this matter I responded to the allegation by presenting myself at the Taxicab Authority’s office. At that time I spoke to Administrative Secretary Martha and I entered my plea of not guilty…

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: I’m sorry Mr. Funk but how many pages is your statement?

DRIVER FUNK: We are neighboring on 6 pages your Honor.


DRIVER FUNK: At the time I spoke with Martha and entered my plea I exercised a motion of discovery. Any defendant or respondent is given a opportunity to view any and all pieces of evidence that the prosecution intends to present during a trial. Not only is this practice procedurally mandated by the Federal Rules of Evidence as well as the Nevada State Rules of Evidence, it is also reiterated within the TaxiCab Authority itself. On the back of any citation issued by this administration there is a section entitled “Taxicab Administrative Hearing Procedures” and within this section the language is very clear regarding discovery, where it states specifically: “ Upon entering a plea, you are entitled to a motion of “discovery”. You may obtain copies of all reports, affidavits or documents that the prosecutor intends to present at your hearing. Your request may be written or done in person during business hours at the indicated address on the front of your citation.” It is my understanding that this procedure is in place so that I and or my counsel, not only have an opportunity to prepare any arguments against any and all pieces of evidence, but more importantly that I have an opportunity to verify the authenticity of the evidence itself.

At the time I filed my motion discovery, I was given two items from Martha. The first of which was a photocopy of the citation itself. The second was a copy of the investigators report as written by Officer Hinkle. No other documents were given to me at that time and I was then informed of my hearing date.

In looking at the transcript of that hearing, on pg. 6 line 22, Judge Winner states quote “I‘m going to ask you to come up here and show me where it was that you loaded these passengers please.” and then she goes on to say, “for the record we are reviewing the satellite image of the intersection that shows a white truck approximately onto the crosswalk.”

This satellite image was used in an attempt to prove my exact location when the alleged violation occurred and it subsequently became the sole basis for the conviction.

MEMBER JOHN G. MARUSHOK: I don’t understand Mr. Funk, in reading the transcript, the Prosecutor asked you if you stopped in a lane of traffic and you admitted to that. Did you not?

DRIVER FUNK: I’ve never disputed that fact your Honor.

MEMBER MARUSHOK: Than I would assert that everything relating to the satellite image, doesn’t matter. The Prosecutor has no further points to make, you admitted to the violation. There is a reason that we have rules and regulations that taxicab drivers are not to do pick-ups in any lanes of traffic, and I realize that some again, and I’ve been on a ride along, I realize that it’s inconvenient sometimes. There may be lots of situations where you think it would be totally reasonable to pick someone up in a lane of traffic if, for instance, there was no traffic, bet there’s a reason that that rule and regulation is in place and it’s for everyone’s safety, so for me, this is rather open and shut.

DRIVER FUNK: Your Honor I don’t believe the statute has any language in the range of prohibiting simply stopping in a lane. I haven’t read that rhetoric anywhere.

MEMBER MARUSHOK: You can’t stop in a lane, to load passengers.

DRIVER FUNK: Are you talking about a different statute because again, I don’t see that language in this one at all. It makes no mention of stopping in a lane.

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: Can somebody look it up please?

(A few court officials began shuffling books and papers around their desk space's)

DRIVER FUNK: You Honor I have it right here if you’d just like me to read it?


DRIVER FUNK: “NRS 706.8845-9 While a driver is on duty he shall not; load or unload passengers or luggage at an intersection or crosswalk or at any place or in any manner what will interfere with the orderly flow of traffic.” It doesn’t say anything about simply stopping in a lane, it says I cannot interfere with traffic. My contention was that there was no traffic; therefore a violation cannot occur.

MEMBER MARUSHOK: It says, “that would interfere with traffic,” you cannot, when you are loading, predict whether you are going to interfere with traffic.

DRIVER FUNK: Your Honor it says that will interfere with traffic. Will and would are not the same thing. Would is a possibility, like what you’re describing, will on the other hand is not a possibility but an actuality. Besides if all that needs to happen for a violation to occur is for me to stop in a lane of traffic, than why can’t the statute just read like that? Wouldn’t it just be easier, and not nearly as susceptible to misinterpretation by a reasonable person such as myself, if it said “A driver shall not stop in a lane of traffic to load or unload passengers at any time.”?

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: Yes it does say, “will”.

MEMBER MAROSHOK: If you are loading and traffic comes up behind you, you will impede it. The fact that there’s no traffic behind you currently when you are stopped really isn’t the important thing. The important thing is that traffic is coming behind you while you’re stopped and you will impede traffic at some point. You can’t predict if traffic will come.

DRIVER FUNK: You don’t have to predict, this is why your vehicle has mirrors. And I still don’t believe that it is possible to interfere with traffic if there is none. Regardless, I don’t feel that the predictability is relevant anyway. Either there was traffic or there wasn’t. The supposed inability to predict it has no bearing on it’s existence. And I think you’re trying to exaggerate the length of time it takes somebody to jump in a taxicab. It takes a couple of seconds. Flagging a cab on the street is the primary method of achieving a taxi in most every major metropolis across the globe. So I’m to believe, to Member Marushok’s point, that every other city in the world is not concerned in the least about the safety of their taxi riding public? If this is such a great safety concern, as Member Marushok stated, than why don’t other industry leaders agree with him? If you looked at the worldwide, or even domestic taxi industry as a whole, you will see that this Administrations stance on this issue is not the rule but the exception. I understand completely that this is the manner in which this statute was been enforced most likely since it’s inception, but I feel that the language does not support this and if you would allow me to continue with my statement, I plan on addressing these matters further.


First of all, just prior to Judge Winner introducing the satellite map as evidence, again on pg 6, now line 21, prosecutor Infurno stated that the prosecution had no further questions. At no point prior to that moment did the prosecution make any attempt to prove my exact whereabouts when I loaded. If my precise location as it related to the intersection or crosswalk was paramount in proving guilt it begs the question, why did the prosecution make no attempt to demonstrate this for the court? Up to this point, prior to Judge Winner introducing evidence by surprise, any reasonable person would have concluded that the prosecution had failed to prove their case beyond a preponderance of the evidence.
Officer Hinkle’s testimony was shown to be highly doubtful and as I stated, no attempt was made by the prosecution to prove my exact whereabouts when loading. Perhaps this
is why the Judge included this evidence.

Interestingly Judge Winner agrees with this assessment that the prosecution failed to make their case. How do I know this? I know this because as soon as the state rested, Judge Winner took it upon herself to take over the prosecutions case for them. If at the time I had nothing further and the prosecution rested, she had felt that there was sufficient evidence and credible testimony to prove the allegation, than why continue the proceeding at all? It should have been a finding of guilt right then and there. Furthermore, if indeed all I had to do to commit a violation was simply stop in a lane of traffic, as this board seems to contend, than why is the proceeding even continuing after I admitted to doing just that? There’s no reason for the Judge to continue the hearing at all let alone introduce evidence. So apparently Judge Winner disagrees with that assessment. Conversely, if at the time the Prosecution rested Judge Winner felt that sufficient doubt surrounded the prosecutions case than she should have dismissed the charge. Why take it upon herself to introduce evidence by surprise? Why question me and formulate arguments regarding my location as it related to it?

It is my understanding that it is a Judge’s duty to make a decision based on the testimony and evidence presented. Nothing more. Nothing less. Additionally, one of the Canons of the Judiciary is impartiality, and introducing evidence by surprise, that results in unfair prejudice to either side, could never be perceived as impartial. Particularly when said evidence becomes the sole basis for the conviction and there is no reasonable explanation as to why it was not brought forth during discovery…

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: Mr. Funk I’m going to stop you there for a second. That may be true in an traditional court of law, but because this is an administrative proceeding, the Judge or Hearing Officer has much more latitude and are allowed to ask questions of the witnesses and engage in the process.

DRIVER FUNK: I am aware of that, but taking it as far as introducing evidence and arguing the prosecutions case is making a gigantic leap. Regardless, if you look at the backside of the backside of the citation, it describes evidentiary procedures for these hearings. It states specifically that I have a right to view any and all documents, affidavits or reports that the Prosecutor intends to present.

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: That’s right, the issue is the Prosecutor didn’t present. You were given a copy of everything the Prosecutor presented, were you not?

DRIVER FUNK: I was. But implied in that statement is that thought that no one else would or should be introducing evidence. It’s not anyone else’s place to do so. Again, that’s not the Judge’s role. And even if we assumed it was indeed the Judges place to introduce evidence, and formulate agreements, then isn’t at that point the Judge acting as prosecutor? What’s the difference? Certain evidence I can see but others I have no right to? Who knows what else might be out there that the State or anybody else has zero obligation to inform me of? This doesn’t seem right to me.

VICE CHAIRMAN O’BRIEN: How have you been prejudiced? If you had already…the question was “did you stop in a lane of traffic?” and you said “I did”. Okay. Then later on page 6, line 24 or 25, the Judge does ask you about the Satellite image but how does that prejudice you an any way?

DRIVER FUNK: How does it prejudice me? For one I was given no opportunity to prepare for it, for two I was given no opportunity to verify it’s authenticity, and for three, the map became the sole basis of the conviction, not the admission of stopping in a lane of traffic.

VICE CHAIRMAN O’BRIEN: But what’s the connection here? How are you trying…

DRIVER FUNK: Your Honor, Judge Winner even stated on…page 7 line 4, “ There is an order in the statute which means it is a violation to load at an intersection or crosswalk and it’s your testimony that that’s exactly what you did. So regardless of all the rest of it, it’s a finding of guilt.” She’s saying that “the rest of it,” the stopping in a lane of traffic, doesn’t matter. Again, if the Judge felt that stopping in a lane of traffic was all that mattered, then why is the hearing continuing at that point? It’s obvious the Judge needed something more to justify the ruling.

MEMBER MARUSHOK: The Judge probably just wanted to show where your location was exactly.

DRIVER FUNK: Exactly. That piece of evidence was paramount in her decision. That’s the connection.

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: Actually it’s not, because you admitted to being in a lane of traffic and stopping, so in my opinion, I would have given no map whatsoever to proceed with the determination that you impeded the flow of traffic pursuant to the statute that’s been referenced because if you admit to stopping in a lane of traffic, it doesn’t matter to me where the intersection is. If you’re halfway up the block, if you’re prior to the intersection, if you’re in a lane of traffic when you stop to pick up passengers, that’s what the issue is, not your location where it took place.

DRIVER FUNK: Are you talking about a different statute because, again, I don’t see that language anywhere in this one?

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: No it’s the same statute.

DRIVER FUNK: Perhaps does this language show up in a different statute and we’re just getting confused here?

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: No. The statute is sufficiently broad to encompass “stopping in a lane”.

DRIVER FUNK: Well your Honor I think that’s actually the problem is that it’s over-broad.

VICE CHAIRMAN O’BRIEN: Then you need to take that issue up with the District Court.

DRIVER FUNK: So there is no expectation for proper evidentiary procedures in this courtroom?

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: I believe standard evidentiary procedures were followed. You were given a copy of everything that the prosecutors entered against you and your admission that you were stopped in a lane of traffic is what was used against in the finding of guilt.

DRIVER FUNK: Your Honor if indeed it is permissible for the Judge to introduce evidence by surprise, or to introduce evidence at all, that I would say that this process as a whole is inherently illusory. I was not properly informed of the forces arrayed against me, I was not informed that I would be facing two prosecutors, I was not informed of the admissibility of evidence by surprise. I was not informed that someone other than the prosecutor would be introducing evidence. I feel in the interest of a fair hearing, the respondent should be made aware of such forces and as such, this is something that needs to be brought forth. I believe the 14th Amendment speaks about this sort of behavior.

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: It’s not evidence by surprise because it was not evidence that was used against you in the finding of guilt. Your admission that you stopped in the lane of traffic is the evidence that was relied upon in the finding of guilt. I guess that’s where the difference of interpretation as you call it comes in.

MEMBER MILLER: If I could get in here for a second Madam Chair, I agree with your assertion that stopping in a lane of traffic will impede traffic around you and therefore is a violation. But one thing struck me as odd was in using the map, the Hearing Officer asked the driver about his location and she goes on to say, “ there is an order in the statute which means it’s violation to load at an intersection or crosswalk,” and then she says that “it’s your testimony that that’s exactly what you did.” If you go back to page 6, she pointed at the Google map and asked the driver to proximate where he was, and he said he couldn’t give an exact location so there is a bit of a discrepancy whether it was at the intersection or not. I feel the Hearing Officer has overreached in the second part of her argument that the driver agreed that he was at the intersection.

DRIVER FUNK: I’m glad you brought that up your Honor I plan on addressing that further later on. Shall I continue?


I presume the satellite image was taken from Google Earth or Yahoo maps or equivalent, and if indeed one of those was the derivative of the map, than I would say that those maps are available for download 24hrs a day, 365 days a year. If it was a Google Earth Map, then the Prosecution and or Hearing Officer had ample time to prepare such evidence prior to my motion of discovery and therein lies the point. I’m not positive to any extent where that image was produced from, so who can verify that this evidence is what it purports to be?…

MEMBER MILLER: If I could stop you again, there is something else I want to say about these maps. It’s my understanding that these maps are being used from time and time and I feel like Mr. Funk is bringing up a good point in that there isn’t any good reason why these maps cannot be produced in advance during discovery. We’re on a slippery slope with something like this and again, there is no reason for it. We should know far in advance if a map is going to need to be used …Please continue.

DRIVER FUNK: Again this idea is substantiated by the information on the backside of the citation when it states quote “ You may obtain copies of all reports, affidavits or documents that the PROSECUTOR intends to present at your hearing” end quote. No where is it indicated in the Taxicab Administrative Hearing Procedures section that it is permissible for the Judge to introduce evidence. In fact it states, as well as implies quite the opposite. So what is the point of notifying me of specific evidentiary procedures if there is no expectation that they will be adhered to? Furthermore it says under that heading that I can be represented by an Attorney of my choosing at my own expense. If there is no expectation that standard courtroom procedures prevail within this administrations hearings than I doubt that it would be beneficial in any capacity to retain legal representation. What good would a lawyers training be if the proceedings are void of any semblance of reasonable court conduct? Furthermore, even if we can assume that it is within the scope of the Judiciary to introduce evidence as well as argue the prosecutions case, then what exactly is the prosecutors role in the hearing? It seems to me that if the Judge can play Prosecutor, Judge and for that matter Jury, than having a prosecutor present at all is as redundant as it is partial.

Taking all things into account, it becomes clear that Judge Winners’ obvious bias resulted in overreaching, which was an abuse of judicial discretion-undoubtedly requiring a finding of reversible error.


The matter as it pertains to Officer Hinkle’ testimony is no less significant. It was clear that crucial parts of his written report as well as his in-court testimony are highly suspect and as I will attempt to illustrate, clearly perjurious. This also aids in the demonstration of the degree to which the Judge took over the case for the prosecution.

I testified previously that at the scene Officer Hinkle asked me if I knew why he pulled me over, to which I responded that I did not. He then told me that I interfered with traffic while loading. My immediate response was that there was no traffic there so it was not possible to have interfered any. This initial conversation is important because Officer Hinkle knew that if I ultimately pled not guilty, which I’m sure he had a feeling I was going to, than that was a point I was going to bring up. Which of course I did, for no other reason than it’s the fact. And Officer Hinkle prepared for it., so much so that the only part of the lengthy statute he notated in the “description” column on the citation was quote “interfering with traffic when loading” end quote. Even in his written report, where ample space and time existed to cite the statute in it’s entirety, he still only quoted the section of the statute on traffic where he writes “ Funk was cited for NRS 706-8845-9, interfering with traffic when loading.” And subsequently Judge Winner reiterated this pretext when she initiated the proceeding by stating on pg. 1 line 10 quote “So you’re here on a charge of interfering with traffic while loading, is that correct?” No where in the documentation of the event does it indicate that I was being cited for being in violation of loading at an intersection or crosswalk…

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: I just wanted to point out for the record that on page 2, lines 3, 4 & 5 it’s discussed by the officer that there was a car and 2 motorcycles behind the driver while he was loading and that they had to wait to go around him. So there is an issue that there was a potential for you to be impeding the flow of traffic even under your own interpretation of the statute. We’ve already established that under our interpretation of the statute there was an issue.

DRIVER FUNK: That is correct your Honor and I plan on addressing that point right now.


DRIVER FUNK: Officer Hinkle’s testimony that there was one car and two motorcycles directly behind me at the time I loaded is an outright fabrication and a blatant falsification of a police report and in conjunction with his overall abuse of his position of authority. Taken as a whole, this disrespect for his oath and the process also requires a finding of reversible error.

First of all, it was my testimony that at the time when Officer Hinkle told me that I interfered with traffic one of my four passengers interjected and said that there was no traffic there. Not surprisingly, no mention was made of this in Officer Hinkle’ report.

Officer Hinkle even took his preparation for litigation as far as to offer up an explanation as to how I could not have known that there was traffic behind me. He stated in his investigators report that quote “he could not have known about the traffic because he was talking on his cell phone.” This notion, that it would be impossible for any driver talking on a cell phone to be aware of any traffic behind them is not persuasive. Again if this were true, I’m certain the State of Nevada would have outlawed the practice of talking on the phone while driving a long time ago. My concern for his flawed logic led me to question the Officer regarding this pg. 3 line 1 I asked him quote “ Can you think of any logical reason why it would be impossible for a driver talking on his or her cell phone to look in their rear-view mirror?” to which Officer Hinkle answered no...

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: The cell phone issue is irrelevant because you were not cited for anything relating to the cell phone. I’d like you to skip over the part.

DRIVER FUNK: Your Honor this issue speaks directly to the credibility of the witness. I feel as though it’s very relevant.

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: I strongly disagree.

DRIVER FUNK: Your Honor I’ve almost made my point on this issue and then I will move ahead.


DRIVER FUNK: So if Officer Hinkle can’t think of any reason why someone on his cell phone couldn’t monitor their mirrors, than why state that as a reason for my not being able to know about the alleged traffic behind me? It’s clear on this point that Officer Hinkle’s written and verbal testimonies are in direct contradiction of one another. And in realizing this it becomes obvious that my reason for not being aware of any traffic behind me was simply because there was no traffic behind me. This certainly is a far more plausible conclusion than the Officer’s illogical explanation.

The discrepancies continue if you look at the Traffic Conditions column on the citation as well as the Officer’s testimony. Again in preparation of litigation, he notated in the Traffic Conditions column of the citation a condition of Heavy. This suspect statement is not consistent with his report where he indicated that at that time and location there was quote “one vehicle and two motorcycles.” end quote. And that was reiterated during the hearing on pg. 2 line 3. Failing to understand how 3 vehicles warranted a Traffic Condition label of heavy, I asked the Officer about this on pg.4 line 27, quote “In your opinion does 3 vehicles constitute heavy traffic?” end quote to which he replied no. So if in the Officer’s opinion 3 vehicles isn’t heavy traffic, than why did he write heavy traffic on the citation? Again he is trying to paint this picture of traffic when none existed.

Furthermore I asked him on pg.4 line 25, quote “ Generally speaking, what would constitute a traffic condition moniker of heavy?” end quote. I felt that to be a simple and relevant question but the Officer’s reply is peculiar when he states on the very next line, quote “You know I’m not a traffic administrator so I really couldn’t tell you.” end quote. Not only is this reply condescending and disrespectful to the process, but we already knew that the Officer was not a traffic administrator as he had already stated his occupation for the record. And if he really can’t tell us what warrants a traffic condition label of heavy, than how is he in any way qualified to perform the task of issuing the citation itself? It’s clear that the Officer purposely dodged this question because he knew that if he gave an honest description of what heavy traffic looks like, it would contradict his testimony.

And that brings us to the issue of LANES. Officer Hinkle indicated on the citation and included in his written report that he witnessed me loading in the #3 south bound lane. This of course is simply not possible due to the fact that there are only 2 lanes of travel in that direction at that location. So I asked him to explain this discrepancy on pg. 4 line 14 quote “ How is it possible that you witnessed me loading in the #3 lane when there are only 2 lanes of travel at that intersection?” end quote. To which he replied, “ That’s incorrect, there are 3.”

Prosecutor InFurno later asks Officer Hinkle to clarify this matter when she asked him on pg. 5 line 9 quote “But on one side it’s two (lanes)?” end quote and on the next line the Officer recants and replies in the affirmative. In realizing the contradiction Judge Winner asks on pg. 5 line 11 quote “That brings a question to mind then, how do you get that the curb lane is #3 if there are 2 lanes in each direction?” to which he replied, “Yeah, I made a typo.” That certainly was a convenient excuse for the Officer but it makes zero sense if you consider that the citation is handwritten, and just minutes prior he responded orally to a direct question that there were three lanes and even went as far as to call me incorrect when I stated otherwise.

As this inaccurate testimony by Officer Hinkle is the substantive basis for the allegations against me-it is essential for me to point out this fundamental failure. The most important factor regarding the ability of a witness to testify-is that his testimony must be truthful and accurate. That is all. I believe it has been amply demonstrated that the officers testimony has failed this threshold requirement…

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: I’m going to stop you there sir. You are making a lot of inflammatory remarks about the Officer, the Hearing Officer and the process and I’ll caution you because you are definitely overreaching with your comments. It’s a difference of a opinion and that’s the whole part of the adversarial processes is he said versus she said. But just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean that they were lying on the record and all these assertions that you are making in your statement.

DRIVER FUNK: Your Honor it is not my wish to be inflammatory here today. I’ve tried to respect this procedure since it’s begun and I’ve been sworn to tell the truth and I believe that is what I am doing. I witnessed the event personally and have studied it extensively for some time and if the Officer is confused or incorrect or inconsistent about the events in question than I can’t shy away from bringing this to your attention. I will try to choose my words more carefully your Honor.

VICE CHAIR O’BRIEN: You need to point to evidence that supports your allegations.

DRIVER FUNK: That’s what I’m trying to do here.


DRIVER FUNK: In summary, the number of errors within Officer Hinkle’s testimony are rather daunting. His testimony that I interfered with one vehicle and two motor cycles is an highly questionable. He strangely omitted a relevant observation from an independent witness. His testimony regarding my not being able to know about the alleged traffic is foolish and contradictory. His entry under traffic conditions wasn’t accurate and he perjured himself again when he said he made a typographical error. He was incorrect in observing my loading in the #3 lane. He was incorrect in observing my turning off of Ogden. How many issues does a witness need to testify inaccurately on before his testimony is deemed non-probative and irretrievably suspect? I believe any reasonable person would have concluded that the Officer passed that threshold long ago.

This brings us back to Judge Winner. The entire proceeding hinged on the issue of traffic. Officer Hinkle saw to that in the way he prepared the pertinent documents in preparation of litigation. However, even if we can assume the Officers testimony were accurate and credible, the prosecutor did not successfully present her case. I believe that is why the Judge impermissibly took over the States burden for the prosecutor. Once Judge Winner took over the case for the prosecution it was no longer about traffic or stopping in a lane whatsoever, it was about an intersection and about a piece of evidence that I had never seen or heard about prior to that moment. It’s hard to imagine a more obvious example of trial by surprise and this board has now been given an opportunity and has an obligation, to remedy the injustice of the previous courts strained analysis.

As troubling as the abuse of Judicial Discretion exercised by Judge Winner as well as the questionable testimony of Officer Hinkle are, they both serve to illuminate a larger issue.

On a fundamental level, procedural due process has it’s roots in fairness. If an individual is facing deprivation of life, liberty or property than there are entitlements granted to him by the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment as a means of guarantying a fair proceeding. At the core of these entitlements are three static ideas which include-that the appellant be given adequate notification of the charges, that he be given an opportunity to be heard, and that the person or panel charged with making the decision must remain neutral.

As I have reiterated, it is the charge of any Judiciary to make a decision based on the evidence presented. It is not the Judiciary’s role to introduce evidence and certainly not their role to adopt the States burden. This is exactly the type of behavior that the 14th Amendment contemplated. I acknowledge and concede that I was given proper notification of the charge. I acknowledge and concede that I was given an opportunity to be heard. However, it is the third core value of procedural due process of judicial neutrality that was obviously not adhered to and thus is a clear violation of not only the 14th Amendment, but is also in direct contradiction of the Administrative Hearing Procedures as indicated within this Administrations own documents.

Even if the condition exists within this administrations hearings where this type of Judicial, or Hearing Officer conduct is deemed permissible, than this process as a whole is inherently illusory when compared to standard courtroom procedures as well as this administrations’ own procedural guidelines as laid out on the citation. Furthermore, an obligation exists to adequately notify the appellant of the forces arrayed against him as prescribed by the 14th Amendment. I was never notified that I would be facing two prosecutors and additionally I was never informed of the admissibility of evidence by surprise.

Further still, and to Member Miller’s point, upon Judge Winner introducing the map by surprise and formulating a whole new line of questioning as it related to the new evidence, she concluded on pg.7 line 4 quote “There is an order in the statute which means it is a violation to load at an intersection or crosswalk and it’s your testimony that that’s exactly what you did” end quote. This conclusion is considerably strained. In looking at the minutes of that hearing, at no point did I testify that that was exactly what I did. In fact quite the opposite is true. I viewed an image, that I had never seen before, that was potentially taken from 100,000 feet, that I was only able to look at from across the room on a small computer monitor and I responded to her line of questioning as it pertained to it with phrases like “pretty much” and “approximately” and on pg. 6 line 27 I even stated specifically quote “I do not recall if I was in the intersection or approaching it” end quote. I fail to see to how drawing conclusions of exactness from phrases such as these could be viewed as neutral and impartial.

In conclusion, throughout this process the plethora of errors, abuses of authority and lack of procedural due process have prevailed and clearly resulted in a unfair hearing. It is now
the duty of this board to reconcile the injustice. It is my prayer that this conviction be reversed and the charge be retried or considering the lack of substance, dismissed altogether.

Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: Ok, deliberations?

VICE CHAIR O’BRIEN: Pursuant to the statute, being he did admit to stopping an a lane of traffic, based on that he violated NRS 706.8845 because it states, “shall not load or unload passengers or luggage at an intersection or crosswalk or at any place or in any manner that will interfere with the orderly flow of traffic.” Just based on that, I feel it is a clear situation and I support the Hearing Officer’s determination.

MEMBER MILLER: I agree with you in supporting the determination of the Hearing Officer. That said, I feel it is inappropriate for her to introduce the Google Map…

VICE CHAIR O’BRIEN: If it went to an element of the offense I would be more inclined to agree with you but it doesn’t go to the element of the offense in this case.

CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: I agree wholeheartedly. He admitted to stopping in a lane of traffic which is a clear admission of guilt on the charge. Motion?

VICE CHAIR O’BRIEN: I motion to sustain decision of the Hearing Officer’s finding of guilt.


CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: Vote? All those in favor say aye. Aye


CHAIRMAN MICHAELS: The Board is unanimously in favor of the motion. Case closed.

I gathered my scattered papers from the desk, neatly returning them to their manila envelope. After I stood up and turned around I was shocked to see the huge mass of people that now filled the room to capacity, leaving dozens without seats. I sensed the room caving in behind me while I was speaking but I couldn’t believe how many people where there and of course once again, it seemed like every one of them was staring at me. I didn’t see Michelle or Bishop anywhere so I slowly made my way out of the room, brushing shoulders with many throughout my walk of shame. Just outside the second floor courtroom is a balcony overlooking a courtyard which is where I found the two of them. Michelle gave me a big hug and Bishop offered me a smoke, both of which I quickly accepted.

“I’m sorry baby. Are you ok?” Michelle asked, still holding on to me.

“Yeah I’m alright. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised about how things went down. I thought we made a strong case, but they were having none of it.” I replied

“You one did a hell of a job, don’t sweat it to much alright?” Bishop said.

“We still lost” I said.

“You made all your points, you were calm and clear and you didn’t get rattled when they fucked with you. You didn't lose because they made a better arguments than you Andrew,” Bishop said.

“Oh yeah, then we’d we lose?”

“We lost because of bullshit,” Bishop replied.

“I knew you were going to say that.”

“It seemed like a couple of them were against you from the very beginning, I think both of the girls hated you,” Michelle said, “I’m not sure that it would have mattered what you did.”

“Yeah I kind of felt like that too. But that one guy on the left, Miller, it seemed like he was getting what I was saying,” I said.

“I thought so too,” Bishop said. “He determined that the Judge overreached in one of her conclusions, he also said that he thought the admissibility of the map is questionable and puts them on a slippery slope with that type of behavior, which of course it does. But he still votes to uphold? I’m not sure what to make of that.”

“Yeah he even brought up that I never told the Judge that I admitted to loading at the intersection. He even came up with that before I brought it up. If nothing else at least the guy did his homework,” I replied.

Apparently Board Member Miller’s ears where burning because no sooner than I said that he exited the courtroom, turned to his right and started to walk right by us. All three of us shut up but as he passed by he looked at me and said, “That was good, did you go to law school?” Bishop interrupted and answered before I could say anything, “No, did you?”

I caught up with the now annoyed Mr. Miller as he continued on and I hinted at the fact that I would appreciate the opportunity to briefly pick his brain. “I’d rather not re-hash it,” was his attempt to be gracious reply as he turned and walked away. I made my way back to the group and as soon as I returned Bishop said, “Yeah no shit he doesn’t want to re-hash it.”

“Bishop,” I said, “you crack me up dude. Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

“So what now?” Michelle asked the both of us.

“Breakfast,” I replied, “my treat, you hungry Bishop?”

“No thanks man I gotta get home and get some sleep.”

“Yeah that’s probably a good idea for you.”

I draped my arm around Michelle and the three of us made our way down the stairs and exited the building into the parking lot while the conversation returned to the trial.

“I told you were going overboard with those remarks about the officer,” Bishop said.

“Yeah you were right, and I even toned it down from where it was before. I don’t get that though, can a statement be factual and inflammatory? At the same time?” I asked.

“Yes,” Bishop replied with a chuckle, “you didn’t know that?”

“I’m not a lawyer man, I’m just a cabbie who likes to read.”

The End.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

L "The Ticket" Part VIII



The week following my numbing defeat, I vacillated back and forth on whether or not to challenge the ruling. Part of me thought that I could do even better the second time around, make an even stronger case. But what concerned me most was the idea that no matter how successfully I argued, I got the distinct impression that it wouldn’t matter. The odds were stacked against me and I believed that the TA was far more concerned with the precedent that a ruling in my favor would establish then they were about simply letting me off the hook for 60 bucks. Or maybe I am wrong. If I had gotten my first TA ticket dismissed, in theory every other cab driver that is cited for the same offense in the future, which undoubtedly would be thousands, could make the same argument I did and that court would have to take a good hard look at it. There is no question that the potential revenue that this supposed offense creates is a significant motive to be creative in their interpretations of the statute. This wasn’t one man against a traffic ticket, this was one man versus a whole administration. One man against The Authority. An authority, mind you, capable of writing, enforcing and prosecuting it’s own laws and simultaneously being strangely devoid of the traditional governmental checks in place to balance such an extent of power. The only thing remaining to correct the scale it seemed, was me.

I finally decided that if I was to proceed with the appeal, I should get a better idea of what I was getting myself into first. Be prepared right? So I spent some more time at the TA office to obtain the transcript, or “minutes” of my first hearing. I felt like reading through the text of the hearing might help me make more sense of it. While there I was also lucky enough to get the opportunity to talk with Investigator/Prosecutor Infurno as well as Sr. Investigator Henneforth separately and they both were very helpful and offered some valuable insight into the perspective of the TA. When I expressed mild concern, Sr. Investigator Henneforth also did well to quell my fear of retaliation from the TA for my antics. Calling people liars and cheats in open court can’t please too many and one could figure that Officer Hinkle wouldn’t be too keen on giving me a break if he ever pulled me over again. However I believed the Sr. Investigator when he assured me that it shouldn’t be a concern and as I write this, he proved correct. After hearing my name called I was informed by the administrative secretary that there was a fee to obtain the minutes of $55 which is supposedly compensation for the person who transcribes the audio tapes of the hearing to text. Yeah right, I want that guys job. As it turned out, this process of obtaining a copy of the minutes, along with just one other form, was all that one needed to do to actually file the appeal itself, so I went ahead and filed it. Fuck it. I can always withdraw it later if I get cold feet.

The next order of business was legal help. Cunning and reading comprehension can only get one so far so I called in a favor to an old friend of mine, Bishop. My legal eagle pal was nice enough to meet me for some coffee and smokes and to offer his opinion on my situation. We caught up for a bit and afterwards I took a few minutes and explained my situation and my analysis of all that had transpired thus far. I was very pleased when he jumped in with both feet and quickly agreed with my interpretation of the statute itself and that was crucial simply for my sanity. When he asked, I showed Bishop the transcript from my hearing and stood up and went to use the restroom so he could read in peace. After a few minutes I returned to my seat but Bishop was still reading so I watched people and waited in anticipation of his thoughts. When he finally picked his head up from the pages he said, “That Judge fucked you.”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“Where did that map come from? Judges are introducing evidence now?” he said.

“I don’t know, they can’t do that?”

“Are you kidding?”

“Well fuck I don’t know, she did it. This isn’t regular court Bishop this is TaxiCab Authority. It’s an Administrative court, doesn’t that make any difference? Maybe they play by different rules or something?”

“Well some things are different and some rules can be a bit more relaxed but not on something like this. This is basic courtroom procedure stuff Andrew. Law 101. There are evidentiary procedures that need to be followed…”

“Wait,” I interrupted, “you said evidentiary procedures? It talks about that shit on the back of the ticket. There is a part about discovery.”

“Right. Exactly. It’s not up to the Judge to introduce evidence and argue the prosecutions case. She totally took over the prosecutors case for them. And literally, where did the map come from? You never even had a chance to inspect it before she questioned you on it. It’s called “evidence by surprise“”

“The Judge can’t ask questions?” I asked.

“Of course they can, but it’s usually just to clarify things. The Judge is supposed to be neutral and make a decision on the evidence presented, not introduce evidence and formulate arguments against you.”

“I thought that map was a little strange but what can I say about it? When I filed a discovery motion I was given no maps, just the officer statement and the ticket.”

“That’s good,” Bishop replied, “you should have objected to it and if overruled, then at least acknowledged it under protest. Regardless of that, this is your grounds for appeal right here. It’s called a “reversible error”. On appeal you’ll have to show the court that a mistake was made which resulted in a unfair proceeding. A mistake, that could be remedied if we were given a new trial. So your argument is that the Judge introduced evidence by surprised which became instrumental in the judgment against you and resulted in an unfair hearing. She justified her ruling using only arguments she brought forth and evidence she presented. I‘m not even sure why there is a prosecutor in the room.”

“I see, that makes sense. Could I have just plead the 5th to any questions she asked me regarding the map?” I asked.

“That might have done the trick. Like I said, the sole basis for the ruling came from your answers to those questions, and seemingly nothing else. If you could have avoided that you might have been alright,” Bishop replied.

“Hindsight 20/20. I was in uncharted waters there ya know? I tried to be very careful with how I answered those questions, it seemed like a tipping point even at the time, but let’s not forget that I haven’t a clue what the fuck I’m doing.”

“You could’ve fooled me. Who helped you with this anyway?”

“What do you mean?”

“Who helped you do put all this together?”


“You did this by yourself?”

“That’s right. You helped me a little bit on the other ticket I got a while back.”

“This is pretty impressive Andrew.”


“Some of these questions are pretty good, this is what they teach you to do in law school.”

“Really? I just seemed like a logical approach to me so I ran with it.”

“Yeah, I especially liked the part where you asked him how long he’d been a cab driver, that was good.”

“You liked that one huh? I liked that question too. I was just playing Possum, trying to make him think I was an idiot I guess,” I said.

“I like it because it makes him answer in the negative, makes him think that you know something he doesn’t.”

“Huh. That’s interesting. I never thought about it that way.”

“You ever think about going to law school?”

“Nah, that shit’s not for me. I’m just a cabbie who likes to read. I’m still not even sure whether I’m going to go through with the appeal or not.”

“What? Why not? I think you have a very strong case Andrew. Any Judge worth a sack should overturn this quickly. You should get a new trial or get the charge dismissed pretty easily I think.”

“Well to be perfectly honest, I’m still a little concerned about future backlash from the TA. Also, the appeal is not in front of another Judge, it’s in front of the entire board of directors of the TA. All of the TA Brass will be there and it’s making me a little nervous. I’ve already dragged the officer’s name through the mud. I shouted from the rooftops that he was a lying piece of shit and now you’re telling me that I should go back in there, this time in front of every important person at the TA, the administration who controls all in my professional industry, and announce that the Judge is full of shit too? It just doesn’t seem so smart. I talked to one of the Sr. Officers down there and he assures me that that won’t be a problem, providing I am telling the truth as I know it of course. But I’m not totally convinced. I’m unwilling to put that much past these people, you know?”

“I wouldn’t worry about that. It’s probably a good thing that the board will be there, I think they are the ones that need to hear what you have to say. If nothing else, you need to do it for all of those other cabbies that can’t do it.”

“What do you mean,” I asked.

“It’s obvious you have an affinity for this kind of stuff Andrew, logical thinking, the writing word, you know I love your blog, that’s why it’s up to you to change the system. Because you’re the one with the ability to do so. You owe that to those who can’t speak for themselves and if nothing else, you get to air your complaint. There are some legitimate issues going on here and somebody needs to get it on the record. If nothing else, win or lose, that could be the catalyst for change.”

That was one of the last things that Bishop said to me, and of all of the excellent advice he gave me, that part really hit home. Partly because I had never thought about that, but mostly because I think he just might be right. I won’t go as far as to say I’m obligated to fight the power, because the last thing I want to do is put a bulls-eye on my back. I’ve said this much before. However I did concur that it was up to me to do it. I had brought the flag this far and it was up to me to pick it back up and carry it the rest of the way.

Since I had learned previously that I would not have an opportunity to question Officer Hinkle again at the appeal, there was only one thing left to do; prepare my statement to read for the Board of Directors. At Bishop’s urging, I did some research online regarding due process and evidentiary procedures and found droves of information that I wished that I’d found before. Speaking of information I wished I’d had before, I also made contact with the Nevada Department of Transportation who was surprisingly swift in helping me locate documents that proved the Casino Center exit ramp was in fact closed at the time and date that I said that it was. Any time there is to be a road closure on a public byway, the contractor or people responsible for the closure, must notify the State DOT who must not only approve of the closure, but also issue the public notice of it. I’m sure a multitude of reasons exist to justify this procedure but I would imagine the chief concern is that emergency service vehicles need to always be made aware of any road condition situations that may interfere with their duties. Once I had those documents in hand, they served to prove one part of my testimony and substantially corroborate other parts of it regarding the matter of my allegedly turning onto Las Vegas Blvd off of Ogden. Since I was coming off of the Highway, and the Casino Center exit was closed, it would not have been possible to be coming that direction on Ogden as the Officer testified. Furthermore, it would not have been reasonably possible for me to know about that exit’s closure in the first place, unless I had indeed been on the Highway and witnessed it just as I had testified. Again, since Officer Hinkle was wrong in that observation, and I now had the documents to prove it, his other observations must be called into question also. I have to tip my hat to my older brother Scott, a longtime highway construction superintendent, for enlightening me about the existence of this information. These documents could have been extremely useful had I obtained them prior to my first hearing, but I never thought it would get to the point that I would need them. However it would have been fun to drill the Officer on the point, let him walk into the trap and then explain how it’s not possible that he could be correct, just like I did previously regarding the issue of lanes. Even more unfortunately, during my preparation I also learned that standard protocol in appeal hearings is that one may not introduce any new testimony or evidence. All you can do is talk about things that happened in or about the first hearing and considering my new DOT documents have no nexus to that hearing, they would undoubtedly be ruled inadmissible in appeal.

In the days leading up to my big day, I went back to the TA office and Sr. Investigator Henneforth was once again gracious enough to give me another meeting, most of which was spent with me talking his ear off. Basically I just wanted to run past him all of my ideas about what I intended to say to the Board, and do you know what the funny thing about that was? I don’t recall him disagreeing with a single thing that I said that day. In taking Judge Winner’s advice, I also discussed with the Sr. Investigator the possibility of filing a formal complaint against Officer Hinkle, which the TA would be required by statute to follow up on. Ultimately however, without any witnesses to corroborate my statement on the matter, there isn’t a whole lot of investigating to do. Besides I had already laid out his errors for the record previously in TA court. The Sr. Investigator reminded me again that Officer Hinkle would not be present at the appeal hearing. Only me, Administrator Walker and about a half-dozen other lawyers. Perfect.

Bishop was good enough to call me a few times to see how things were progressing. I never hesitated to bounce as many ideas off of him as I had, even reading to him passages from drafts of my statement. I believe at every turn Bishop agreed that I was on the right track. Some of his best advice included telling me to put my strongest arguments first, which is most decidedly counterintuitive to a storyteller. And we both agreed that our strongest argument, are best chance to convince the Board to overturn the judgment, was the Judge admitting evidence by surprise issue. Taking it all into account, once I was armed with the right information, it became much more clear just how questionable some of Judge Winner’s behavior really was. Even though that is meaningless with regards to my main argument, that the statute itself is vague and poorly written, it was my best chance at victory. Remember the two hours of waiting? The Prison-DMV with the two way speaker boxes? The butch Bailiff? The two snotty ADA’s? The traffic jam? The questionable TA Officer? If I have to pull an OJ and win on a technicality I’m all for it because let‘s never forget, we’re in it to win it baby!

As my statement was starting to take shape and neared completion, I started to become very concerned about the length of it. There was so many good arguments against this injustice that I wanted to make that my draft was nearing 6 pages. Bishop assured me that the length wasn’t an issue, as long as I was making relevant arguments they would have to listen to me. But this is also why you put your strongest arguement first because you never know what will happen or what they feel is relevant. In that vein, Bishop also informed me that I should be prepared to get interrupted. Even though the floor would be mine, it should be expected that at any point during my reading, the Board can interrupt me. They may want clarify something I’m arguing or explain and justify the previous courts decisions on an issue, or perhaps they could simply take issue with something I said. For a multitude of reasons they can interrupt my flow so I needed to be prepared for that and have something to say in response.

Regardless of what would become of my efforts, in total dozens and dozens, maybe even hundreds of hours of work, I knew at this point that I had done everything I could do to be prepared. I’d been a good boy scout. This was possible in no small part to Sr. Investigator Henneforth’s and Bishop’s expertise and guidance. I am indebted to them for their time as well as encouragement. The night before my big day, my 3rd big day actually, Bishop called me for one final briefing/pep talk and the last thing he said to me I’ll never forget,

“Anytime you end up in court it‘s a crapshoot. You never know what‘s going to happen which is why lawyers avoid it at all costs. But one thing is for certain man, they‘re not going to be ready for you.”

To be continued…Part IX

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

L "The Ticket" Part VII



In the weeks leading up to my hearing date I hashed out a statement to read for the court, just like I did for my first flag ticket. Again, it’s the best way to come across clear and concise while in front of the Judge. In addition to that, I prepared a list of questions that I planned on asking Officer Hinkle. Considering our version of the events differed so greatly, it seemed obvious the need to illustrate the inconsistencies of the officer’s testimony for the court by simply asking him a few pointed questions while he’s under oath. If you studied my version of the event, and Officer Hinkle’s report carefully, you would have found that there were actually quite a few discrepancies between our stories. In truth, I was as shocked as I was excited when I first read the report. In going over it with a fine toothed comb, the number of errors that existed was more than enough to raise ample doubt around the officer’s testimony, regardless of what his motives where in making them.

In that vein I sent two different emails to my passenger. He was gracious enough to offer it to me as a means of substantiating my testimony regarding the traffic, and he seemed genuine in his concern. All four of them did. Unfortunately however, and to no surprise to me, I never received any response to those inquiries. If I could have walked into court with a signed and notarized statement from an independent party, verifying the fact that there was no traffic at that place and time, well that would have been a real hum-dinger. Even worse, all I had to do was activate my cab's camera and that footage would have served the same purpose, even more effectively. In hindsight however, what I really should have done was never made any mention of traffic, or anything at the time to the Officer Hinkle wrote me the ticket. As you may have already noticed, the Officer went to great lengths to attempt to demonstrate the existence of traffic, both on the citations itself, and on his report. Undoubtedly he did so because I gave that to him. Had I said that I understood why he pulled me over and “thanks for the ticket sir” I would have had a much easier path to crawl I believe. Instead, the Officer was very purposeful in creating his testimony in preparation for what he knew already what I was going to say; there was no traffic. As a result of my ego, the trekking was made much more difficult.

I arrived at the TA court on my hearing date a little early and I took a seat in the back of the room. In short time the room was nearly filled with various TA officers preparing to testify, court officials and other cab drivers. Driver reps were trying to their best to assist drivers who were there to get out of tickets. They were of little assistance it seemed and I declined their help. Besides, most of these driver’s biggest problem is the language barrier not insufficient arguments, for undoubtedly they are here for some bullshit as well just like me. Interestingly however, the TA does not allow drivers the luxury of translators for these proceedings. Naturally the TA doesn’t have the money to pay for that but strangely they won’t even allow drivers to hire one for themselves at their own expense. The Authority’s take on this issue is that “drivers are required to speak English as a part of the job”, and this compliance is measured by the 40 question written exam that is only available in English and must be passed before a permit is acquired. Well to that I say, granted. I agree that drivers should be made to take the test is English only, after all, the road signs themselves, and map books for that matter are in English. However in my opinion, being able to complete a fairly simple multiple choice exam, that you will have an infinite amount of attempts to complete successfully, is light years away linguistically speaking from effectively representing yourself in court. But that’s another story for another time.

Just like in the Municipal & Justice courts, the ADA, or prosecuting equivalent, will have a little chat with you prior to your hearing to see if the two of you can work out a little deal and “get you out of there today“. As we have already learned from our Municipal Court endeavor, the harder they try to strike a deal with you the weaker their case is. I sat in my seat in the back of the room, reading my papers in silence waiting for my name to be called.

In short time, I heard my name and I made my way to the desk to the left of the bench to have a chat with Investigator, and acting Prosecutor, Natalie Infurno. It has been my experience that the State's Prosecutor for the TaxiCab Authority hearings rarely has a law degree but rather is a person higher up in the Administration itself. Ms. Infurno was not dressed in a suit but rather in a standard TaxiCab Authority Officer’s uniform.

“Is that you Mr. Andrew Funk?”

“Yes Ma’am,” I said and followed her silent direction to sit down.

“You are here for NRS 706.8845-9 interfering with traffic while loading is that correct.”

“That sounds correct Ma’am.”

“The Officer is here today and is prepared to testify against you. I looked at your record and the TA is prepared to reduce your penalty to $60 if you’ll plead guilty to the charge today.“

“That’s ok Ma’am, I do not wish to change my plea at this time.”

“You read the Officer’s report didn’t you?”

“I did.”

“And you still wish to plead not guilty?”

“That is correct Ma’am”

“Ok you can go take your seat again, just wait for your name to be called ok?”

“Very well thank you Ma’am,” I said and returned to my seat.

Shortly thereafter everyone in the room stood up as the Judge made her way to the bench. The Honorable Judge Ann Elworth Winner, would reside over the hearings today. In no time at all Gina Wilk, Compliance Officer and acting bailiff, announced the first hearing on the agenda and away we went. I put down my papers so I could focus attention on Judge Winner to see how she behaved towards the other drivers. After a handful of cases, about half of which she ruled in favor of the driver, I was very pleased by her demeanor and she seemed to be a reasonable Judge and more than open to the driver’s explanations of their alleged violations. But no sooner than I was starting to feel rather good about my chances, I noticed to my right the courtroom doors open and who walks in was no other than Gordon Walker himself. The TaxiCab Authority Administrator. The big boss. The head-honcho. The proceedings were not noticeably interrupted by his entrance but I was certainly distracted when after perusing briefly for a seat, he decided on one that was just one seat away from me. I had been to a few of these hearings before and this was the first time I had ever seen the Administrator in attendance. In fact, this was the first time I had ever seen him in person. I suppose I should have been excited to have the opportunity for the Administrator himself to hear what I was about to say, after all I had put a quite of bit of time into it, but his sitting down next to me did not make me excited at all. It made me nervous. The plan was to stand up in open court, go on the record and call Officer Hinkle a liar, and I was finding it difficult to gauge how exactly that was going to be received.

“Andrew Funk, event number 091004-003 come forward please,” Bailiff Wilk announced.

I made my way to the front of the room, manila folder in-tow and took a seat at the desk on the right hand side facing the bench. Prosecutor Infurno and TA Officer Kevin Hinkle occupied the desk to my left. I opened my folder and situated my papers in order on the desk, prepared my pen for note taking. Judge Winner initiated the preceding:

JUDGE WINNER: Good morning, so you’re here on a charge of interfering with traffic when loading, is that correct?

MR. FUNK: That’s correct your Honor.

JUDGE WINNER: And you’re pleading not guilty to that charge?

MR. FUNK: That is correct your Honor.

JUDGE WINNER: Any questions on the procedure we follow for trial sir?

MR. FUNK: None at this time your Honor

JUDGE WINNER: Are you going to testify today sir?

MR. FUNK: Yes your Honor.


BAILIFF WILK: Mr. Funk please rise, and will you raise your right hand. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

MR. FUNK: Yes I do.

BAILIFF WILK: You may be seated.

JUDGE WINNER: The State may proceed, Natalie?

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: Officer, can you please state your name and occupation for the record?

OFFICER HINKLE: Kevin Hinkle, investigator, State of Nevada TaxiCab Authority.

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: Were you so employed on October the 4th at 25 after 12?


PROSECUTOR INFURNO: And at that time you came into contact with the respondent?


PROSECUTOR INFURNO: Can you point to him and identify him for the court?

OFFICER HINKLE: He’s sitting to the right of you in a black stripe shirt and black pants.

JUDGE WINNER: The record will reflect that the witness has identified the respondent.

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: Would you please relay to the court what occurred on the night leading up to the issuance of the citation?

OFFICER HINKLE: I was downtown conducting traffic enforcement. I was parked in a lot directly across from Fremont or Las Vegas Boulevard at Fremont Street. I was facing in a westbound direction. I was monitoring cabs coming southbound on the Boulevard stopping in a red-restricted fire zone and loading. At that time I had observed the (Cab Co. name omitted) cab coming eastbound on Ogden and turning southbound on the Boulevard. As he approached the intersection he was talking on his cell phone. He was driving very slowly. It appeared he was looking at people walking by. Four individuals flagged him down, he stopped on a green light in the intersection, loaded those four people. There was one car and 2 motorcycles behind him while he was loading. They had to wait or go around him. It was also bike week that week, so it was very crowded downtown. He engaged his meter, continued southbound on the Boulevard when I conducted the traffic stop.

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: I have no questions your Honor.

JUDGE WINNER: Any questions for the officer Mr. Funk?

DRIVER FUNK: I do your Honor. Officer Hinkle, how long have you been with the Nevada Taxicab Authority?

OFFICER HINKLE: I believe it’s 14 months.

DRIVER FUNK: And how long were you a cab driver before you started working for the TA?


DRIVER FUNK: Throughout your tenure with the TA, have you ever been required to wear corrective lenses?


DRIVER FUNK: Are you required to wear corrective lenses for any reason personal or professional?


DRIVER FUNK: Officer Hinkle, how many citations would you say you issue on an average shift?

OFFCER HINKLE: I have no idea.

DRIVER FUNK: Your best guess please.

OFFICER HINKLE: I wouldn’t guess.

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: Your Honor, I would object for relevance.

JUDGE WINNER: He’s already…it’s relevant. Go ahead.

DRIVER FUNK: Officer Hinkle how much time would you say generally elapses from the time when you issue the citation until the time you write your investigators report?

OFFICER HINKLE: It all depends on what’s going on in my shift.

DRIVER FUNK: Do you recall how much time elapsed on this one here?


DRIVER FUNK: You don’t remember?


DRIVER FUNK: So it could have been a considerable amount of time?

OFFICER HINKLE: I don’t know.

DRIVER FUNK: Is it possible that you may have confused, misconstrued or simply not remembered some of the facts of the event correctly, due to the time difference between you writing the ticket and writing your report?


JUDGE WINNER: That’s not possible?

OFFICER HINKLE: Of course it’s possible.

DRIVER FUNK: Officer, is it your understanding that the use of a cell phone while driving is prohibited in the State of Nevada?


DRIVER FUNK: Have you ever used your cell phone while driving?


DRIVER FUNK: Can you think of any logical reason why it would be impossible for a driver talking on his or her cell phone to look in their rear view mirror?


DRIVER FUNK: And while you’re driving and talking on your cell phone, are you able to periodically monitor your rear view mirror without any difficulties?


DRIVER FUNK: Officer Hinkle, you testified that prior to my loading you witnessed me turning right onto southbound Las Vegas Boulevard from eastbound Ogden? Is that what you remember?


DRIVER FUNK: The fact is that I had actually just came off of the southbound US95 not Ogden and…

JUDGE WINNER: Okay Sir, you don’t get to testify now, you only get to ask him questions.

DRIVER FUNK: Yes of course, my apologies your Honor.

JUDGE WINNER: No problem.

DRIVER FUNK: You said before that you didn’t remember how much time elapsed from the time you issued the citation until the time you wrote your investigator’s report, isn’t it possible that you may also not remember which cab you observed turning onto the Boulevard from Ogden?

OFFICER HINKLE: No I’m sure it was your cab.

DRIVER FUNK: You’re sure it was me that you pulled over, but are you certain that was me turning off of Ogden? That couldn’t have been another cab?

OFFICER HINKLE: I’m sure it was you.

DRIVER FUNK: I see, Officer you stated to me at the scene that there were 2 cars behind me when I loaded, is that what you observed?

OFFICER HINKLE: That’s not what I said.

DRIVER FUNK: I’m sorry?

OFFICER HINKLE: That’s not what I said.

DRIVER FUNK: I’m sorry, what did you say?

OFFICER HINKLE: I said that there was one car and 2 motorcycles.

DRIVER FUNK: One car and 2 motorcycles? When you stated to me at the scene that there were 2 cars behind me, one of my four passengers interjected and said that there wasn’t any traffic behind me, was there a reason for omitting that independent witnesses statement from your report?

OFFICER HINKLE: I don’t recall any witnesses asking me any questions.

DRIVER FUNK: Officer, you stated on the citation as well as in your report that you witnessed me loading 4 passengers in the #3 lane on Las Vegas Boulevard is that correct?

OFFICER HINKLE: That’s correct.

DRIVER FUNK: Correct me if I’m wrong you’re Honor, I believe the standard protocol with regards to numbering lanes is that you start at the median or yellow line, and work your way to the right towards the curb or white line. The fast lane is the number 1 lane?

JUDGE WINNER: No, I believe that’s incorrect

DRIVER FUNK: Okay, can I ask what the protocol for numbering lanes is?

JUDGE WINNER: It starts at the curb and moves inward.

DRIVER FUNK: From the curb and moves inward? So if there was three lanes the number 3 lane would be the far left lane?

JUDGE WINNER: It depends on what direction you’re traveling, the number 1 lane would be the outermost lane of travel in that direction.


JUDGE WINNER: It would be the number 1 southbound lane, the far right lane of travel at this particular location, it would be the 3rd lane.

DRIVER FUNK: So the lane to the left would be…

JUDGE WINNER: Number 2 lane, yes.

DRIVER FUNK: And the fast lane or far left lane would be the number 3 lane?

JUDGE WINNER: Correct, but I believe his testimony is that you were in the far right, but I could be mistaken.

DRIVER FUNK: Right. So if we were using the protocol than there would be a discrepancy between that and the officer’s testimony then…

JUDGE WINNER: It depends on…there’s no standard way of doing it. Different people do it different ways. Actually, NHP does it differently than Metro if I’m not mistaken so…I prefer to use the designation of the far right or curb lane, the center lane, or left lane myself so nobody has an issue.

DRIVER FUNK: If it’s all the same your Honor I’d prefer to use the Officer’s method.

JUDGE WINNER: That’s fine. Ask him questions, that’s fine.

DRIVER FUNK: Ok Officer let’s clear this up, you said that I loaded in the number 3 lane; where you counting from the median out to the right or the curb into the left to the median?

OFFICER HINKLE: From the median to the right.

DRIVER FUNK: Median to the right, so you have that there are three lanes and the number 3 lane is the far right lane correct?


DRIVER FUNK: The problem I have with the citation and your report for that matter is there’s only two lanes of travel on Las Vegas Boulevard at that intersection.

JUDGE WINNER: Sir, you’re testifying, you’re not asking him questions.

DRIVER FUNK: Sorry. Officer Hinkle, how is it possible that you witnessed me loading in the number 3 lane when there are only two lanes of travel at that intersection?

OFFICER HINKLE: You’re incorrect, there’s 3.

DRIVER FUNK: There’s 3? Well I’m sure that any of the drivers in this room would gladly confirm that there are only two lanes...

JUDGE WINNER: You’ll get your chance sir, but you’re just asking him questions right now.

DRIVER FUNK: Sorry your Honor. Officer, on every citation there is a area where you are required to indicated the weather conditions, road conditions and traffic conditions at the place and time that the alleged events occurred, what options do you have at your disposal as far as entries for the traffic conditions column are concerned?

OFFICER HIINKLE: I didn’t catch the last part of your question.

DRIVER FUNK: What options do you have at your disposal as far as entries into the traffic conditions column on a citation?

OFFICER HINKLE: All depends on traffic, light, light to moderate, moderate moderate, heavy heavy.

DRIVER FUNK: I noticed on my citation that you indicated that traffic was heavy, can you describe for the court what, in your opinion, constitutes heavy traffic?

OFFICER HINKLE: It was bike week, extremely heavy traffic, bike week, cabs buses. A lot more people downtown than usual.

DRIVER FUNK: Generally speaking, what would constitute a moniker of heavy?

OFFICER HINKLE: Ya know, I’m not a traffic administrator so I really couldn’t tell you.

DRIVER FUNK: Would you say that, if I understood your testimony, that there was one vehicle and two motorcycles. In your opinion 3 vehicles constitutes heavy traffic?

OFFICER HINKLE: We’re talking in relation to you stopping and interrupting the normal flow of traffic. It wouldn’t really matter if it was heavy, light, or medium, if there are vehicles behind you because you’re stopping in traffic…

JUDGE WINNER: Just answer the question- do you consider 3 vehicles to be heavy traffic?


DRIVER FUNK: That completes my questions your Honor.

JUDGE WINNER: Any redirect?

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: I have one question. Going through the lanes of travel by numbers, what lane did you observe the respondent loading?

OFFICER HINKLE: The curb lane.

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: Curb lane. And question is risen on how many lanes of traffic, did you explain how many actual lanes of traffic there is?

OFFICER HINKLE: There’s actually 4 lanes- 2 southbound and 2 northbound.

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: But on one side it’s 2.


PROSECUTOR INFURNO: I have no further questions, your Honor.

JUDGE WINNER: That brings a question to mind then. How do you get that the curb lane as #3 if there are 2 lanes in each direction?

OFFICER HINKLE: Yeah, I made a typo.

JUDGE WINNER: There’s no turn lane there at that intersection?


PROSECUTOR INFURNO: There is and that’s being counted as the…

JUDGE WINNER: Natalie, you’re not testifying.


JUDGE WINNER: So there’s a left turn lane and 2 through lanes for southbound traffic?

OFFICER HINKLE: I believe so yes Ma’am.

JUDGE WINNER: Thank you. Your turn Mr Funk.

DRIVER FUNK: Your Honor I believe the left turn lane would be classified as such, never as the number 1 lane.

JUDGE WINNER: Sir, it’s your time to testify, go ahead.

DRIVER FUNK: Your honor, the Nevada Revised Statute 706.8845-9 that I was cited for violating says- While a driver is on duty, he shall not load or unload passengers or luggage at an intersection or crosswalk or at any place or in any manner that will interfere with the orderly flow of traffic.

In my opinion this language is very clear. In order to violate the second part of this particular statute, there must first be traffic present. Without any traffic at that time and place to actually interfere, by definition a violation cannot occur. It says, "that will impede traffic". The term will is a positive. Will is a definite, not an if. Will is an absolute not a hypothetical. Will is an actual, not a probable, a likely or a presumed. Thus, this entire proceeding hinges on the matter of the presence of traffic. Interestingly, Officer Hinkle agrees with my interpretation of this language. I know this because he knowingly falsified the citation and his investigators report to make it appear as though there was indeed traffic. An act that I find reprehensible considering his position. But why go to such lengths to document traffic if it’s moot, regardless if there was any or not?

To that matter your Honor, I have little doubt that in the and of themselves, this court will take the Officer’s word over mine, therefore I am left with no other alternative than to illustrate for this court the multiple errors, be them malicious or otherwise, that Officer Hinkle has made throughout this process as a means of demonstrating his observance of traffic is highly doubtful as well.

I, in fact, did not turn onto Las Vegas Boulevard from Ogden as the Officer stated. I had just exited off of southbound US95. The Casino Center exit was closed for repair and I was forced to exit on Las Vegas Boulevard. From there I headed southbound on the Boulevard and caught the green light at Ogden. Public records would corroborate my testimony regarding that ramp’s closure at that time.

I could not have loaded in the number 3 lane as the Officer testified and was certain of because as we’ve established, there are only two lanes of travel at that location. The Officer’s explanation for his error, that it was a typo, is also suspect considering the citation is handwritten and he had already testified aurally to the same.

Without knowing anything else, there is no way a traffic condition label of heavy is justified for that time and place. I’m certain every driver in this room would agree that for all intents and purposes, downtown Las Vegas becomes a ghost town after midnight, especially as of late. His claim in his report that, I could not have known about the supposed traffic, because I was talking on my cell phone is ludicrous. And the Officer himself testified later that he could not think of any reason why somebody on their cell phone would be unable to be aware of any traffic behind them, a clear contradiction. If his explanation were even remotely possible, I’m sure that the State would have banned talking while driving long ago. And naturally, he failed to mention that I ended my call as soon as I loaded and in doing so eliminated all potential for violating any of the cab laws regarding cell phone use as the Officer seems to be implicating.

Furthermore, Officer Hinkle said in his investigators report that I began to argue with him about this issue of traffic. This is also false. The only thing that I did that the Officer could have misconstrued as my arguing was my simple refute that there was indeed no traffic. I understand completely that there is a time and a place to make those arguments and that is why I’m here today. I always give proper respect to Officer’s of the law just as I believe I have shown this court today.

Furthermore your Honor, upon dropping off my passengers at the Palazzo that night, one of the gentlemen made a point of giving me his email address and told me if I was to email him that he would gladly provide a statement that indeed there was no traffic there whatsoever. He knew this because he and his friends had been standing there for some time waiting for a cab to come by. He told me that I was the first vehicle of any kind that they had seen. This is why he interrupted Officer Hinkle at the scene to say that there was no traffic, because he knew otherwise. Ultimately, I did email that man on multiple occasions and requested that he follow through with his promise and provide a statement for the court, not surprisingly he never responded to those inquires. I know that I have no way of proving any of this to you but please understand that ideally I would be here today with a signed and notarized statement from an independent witness reiterating everything that I’ve told you.

In conclusion your Honor, I’m willing to give Officer Hinkle the benefit of the doubt on the bulk of his errors, I’m certain that his job is not easy. However on the matter of the traffic, I have no choice but to view his actions as a purposeful and malicious falsification of a police report, something that I hope that this Court, his department and the State of Nevada would take very seriously. In doing so your Honor, I request that this baseless charge be dismissed.

JUDGE WINNER: Any questions?

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: Yes, I have one. Did you stop in a lane of traffic?


PROSECUTOR INFURNO: Would your actions, had there been any, impede traffic?

DRIVER FUNK: There was no traffic.

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: But your actions, had there been, would have impeded traffic in an orderly flow?

DRIVER FUNK: If there was a car directly behind me and I stopped in that, yes that would have been impeding traffic.

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: I have no further questions.

JUDGE WINNER: Mr. Funk I’m going to ask you to come up here and show me where it was that you loaded these passengers please?

DRIVER FUNK: Pretty much where that white truck is, I don’t remember exactly.

JUDGE WINNER: For the record we’re reviewing the satellite image of the intersection that shows a white truck past the…approximately onto the cross walk, would you agree, for east/west pedestrian traffic at the intersection? Is that about right?

DRIVER FUNK: That lane, I do not recall if I was in the intersection or approaching the intersection.

JUDGE WINNER: You said it’s approximately where this vehicle was located?


JUDGE WINNER: Okay. Anything further from either side?

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: No, your Honor, the State rests.

JUDGE WINNER: I’m going to read the statute again because as luck would have it, I have a little bit of training in doing this, so, it reads “not load or unload passengers or luggage at an intersection or crosswalk or at any place or in any manner that will interfere with the orderly flow of traffic”. Doesn’t have to interfere with traffic. Your argument is that if there was no traffic there, the violation is a mistake. There is no requirement. There is a an order in the statute which means that it is a violation to load at in intersection or crosswalk. And it’s your testimony that that’s exactly what you did. So regardless of all the rest of it, it’s a finding of guilt. Is there any background?

PROSECUTOR INFURNO: He has one under the 8849 penalty phase that he waived, paid his fine. State requests 80 dollars.

JUDGE WINNER: So this is a first offense?


JUDGE WINNER: Okay. I’m going to make it 60. You have 30 days to appeal my decision if you wish to do that okay?

DRIVER FUNK: Thank you your Honor.

JUDGE WINNER: Now if you want to file a complaint against the officer, there is a procedure for doing that. I don’t have any jurisdiction over that, I only do citation hearings and citations issued to companies, but there’s a procedure for doing that. You can ask to speak with Officer Henneforth, he’s the day time supervisor if I’m not mistaken. Okay? Thank you.

I couldn’t say I was surprised by the verdict but I was dejected nonetheless. I felt like I made some strong arguments. I thought I pointed out many crucial errors made by the prosecution, which should have raised more than sufficient doubt surrounding the officer’s testimony, but the Judge didn’t seem to care too much about that at all. It really should have been enough. I’ve gotten tickets dismissed with far weaker arguments that‘s for sure. Even more odd, it seemed like we were steamrolling in one direction that whole time and then right at the end we did a 180. I wasn’t ready for that. I was good for 14 minutes and 30 seconds and then that last half minute was a whirlwind and threw me for a loop.

I gathered my papers, placed them back in their manila folder and made my way out of the courtroom. I made eye contact with no one even though it seemed that dozens of eyes were staring at me. I didn’t know if those in the courtroom where more surprised or shocked at what I had just said for the record. But none of this matters now, I need a cigarette. Just outside the courtroom stood a man whose name I didn’t know but I recognized from the yard. A Bulgarian that works for my company. I sparked one and took a place nearby.

“Man that was really good man. You’re like a real lawyer or something,” he said to me in his above average English.

“Thanks. Didn’t do us much good though did it? Still lost” I replied.

“That’s ok man, you did really good. Next time I get ticket I come talk to you ok? You help me ok?”

“I can try.”

“You heard the Judge, she say you can appeal it. You going to appeal it?”

“I don’t know man. I don’t know.”

I finished my cigarette and went into the TA office across from the courtroom to pay my $60 fine, knowing they would suspend my permit later that day if I didn’t. I wrote them a check for $60 fulfilling my obligation and walking back to my car a loser, I contemplated the future.

To be continued…PART VIII