I feel compelled to tell you, Internet, that the strategy of defending a speeding ticket by questioning the testing of the radar, calibration of the tuning forks, etc., isn’t foolproof.
The first chink in your armor will come when the officer actually shows up. It doesn’t help if the judge then calls your case first, even though your name was way low in alphabetical order, as a courtesy to the officer.
It’s OK, you think to yourself, I’ll get him with the logbook, I’ll get him with the logbook.
That was my rationale. I had multiple copies of case law printed out and 40 pages of questions to ask, but I wouldn’t have to use them unless the logbook thing didn’t pan out. If the officer did produce a logbook, at least I would be feeling more comfortable asking questions, because I warmed up with the logbook thing.
But there was no way the officer had his logbook with him. And therefore he would be unable to show me where he wrote down what time he tested his radar before and after pulling me over. So the judge would have to dismiss my case, right?
Except not. That nice judge, who threw out cases right and left two weeks ago, didn’t go for it. He was satisfied when the officer said, “We don’t log that.” And neither the judge nor the officer were particularly amused by my line of questioning as to the proper calibration of the radar’s tuning forks.
The judge actually had the tuning forks’ calibration certification on file.
Right. This wasn’t going to work. (Your honor, I have copies of case law here that convinced me the prosecution would have no case against me, perhaps you’ll come to the same conclusion?)
The judge asks me what I remember about that day. (Note: The officer already has said he remembers nothing, and has read from his report.) I hesitated, remembering some online advice not to testify no matter what, because the prosecution will use it against you. (Assuming there is a prosecutor, which as I’ve mentioned, there was not.)
It wouldn’t have mattered. I could have said, “I was driving along, he pulled me over, I am certain I wasn’t speeding.” But I heard the guy at the tail end of the previous session making a similar argument, with only the officer’s affidavit to say otherwise, and the judge said, “I think the burden of proof is with the officer here.”
Probably what he meant was, “I am going to rule against you, in favor of this piece of paper, because I believe the officer who checked these boxes more than I believe you, and therefore he has satisfied the burden of proof.”
But for a judge to misuse the expression “burden of proof” thusly? The burden of proof is always with the prosecution (in this case, the officer), is it not? This is America, people! Innocent until proven guilty? Prove beyond reasonable doubt? Ring any bells?
No matter what I said, the judge wasn’t going to rule in my favor at this point. Perhaps it was the wrong strategy to say, “Don’t I have the right not to testify against myself?”
Because the judge said, “No, you don’t.”
“Isn’t that, um, in the constitution?” (Now, I’m no legal scholar, but I didn’t even have to look that up. It’s amendment No. 5)
“This isn’t a criminal case.” (So accused criminals have rights that accused speeders do not?)
Defeated, but clinging to my dignity, I open my mouth to say, “I was driving along…” and the judge rephrases. “Well, you don’t have to testify, if you don’t want to. But you don’t have the right not to.”
Whatever. He ruled against me. I handed my check for $113 to those bitchy clerks I’ve come to know so well. And hope never to lay eyes on again for the rest of my life.