July 8, 2010

Di Di for the defense

Today I went to parking court to contest the parking ticket I got when my foot was broken.

When I got to the court room, the first thing I heard was yelling. Oh no. The judge was trying to communicate with a Polish-speaking woman, using a translator who was on speaker phone, and it took several minutes for the woman to understand the questions. Finally she understood that she was being asked to point to the spot where her car had been parked. She did, and the judge dismissed her ticket.

I watched several other cases before my turn. Each time, the judge pulled up information about the ticket on her computer, including the officer's report and other evidence submitted by the city. Then she determined whether the city had established a prima facie case. In two cases, she looked at the report and dismissed the ticket right away, ruling that a prima facie case had not been established. In the other cases, she found that the city had sufficient evidence, and then she allowed the defendant to present evidence that the ticket should not have been issued. Most people presented photographs, and surprisingly, the judge dismissed all but one of the tickets.

This was encouraging, but I was still nervous because I didn't have any photographs. My only defense was that I couldn't move my car because I had a broken foot, which is not a defense but an excuse. It's a very good excuse, but technically, I did violate the ordinance by not moving my car for seven days. Nobody else had presented a sob story as a defense, so I wasn't hopeful even though I saw other cases get dismissed.

My turn. I stood at the podium, raised my right hand for the oath, and stated my name. The judge pulled up the officer's report and looked at it with a puzzled expression. The she said something like, "I find that the city has not established a prima facie case, and therefore this ticket is dismissed." I stared at her, dumbfounded, and then thanked her gratefully. She printed a copy of her ruling for me, and that was it.

I'm extremely relieved that I don't have to pay the ticket. It was anticlimactic, though -- I had been preparing my statement for days, and I didn't get to say any of it. And even though the main goal was to avoid a fine, part of me wanted a judge to say, "You're right. It's not fair. You don't deserve this."

Watching the other cases, I wonder how many tickets get paid that would have been dismissed in a hearing. Probably millions. My friends with cars are constantly complaining about bogus parking tickets and camera tickets. It's like an extra tax for car owners. The city is desperate for revenue, and I think people assume they can't win because it's a scam to raise money. But apparently, many of the tickets don't hold up in court.

The glorious decision (click to enlarge):


  • WOO! Congrats! :)

    By Blogger Psycgirl, at 7/9/10, 3:11 PM  

  • Thank you! :)

    By Blogger Di Di, at 7/9/10, 10:53 PM  

  • Hooray!!! So sorry you didn't get to perform though. :p

    By Blogger Mamabeek, at 7/11/10, 11:09 PM  

  • You've now tasted the bittersweet experience of having your case settle on the courthouse steps: simultaneous relief and letdown. Usually, you go home and deliver your opening statement to the dog.

    But congratulations on the result. Mike's Brother contested a ticket he received for making a left turn at an intersection during prohibited turning hours. He had numerous charts and photographs, but it got him nowhere. You were fortunate to have a compassionate judge.

    By Anonymous Mike's Dad, at 7/27/10, 12:25 PM  

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