Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lady Flummoxed with an Equipment Violation in Ithaca Town Court: Proof is the Thing

I am a lover of language

I don't know why exactly but people love to approach me. I guess I have an attractive energy that beckons them. So I just came back from Ithaca Town Court (Tioga and Buffalo Street).

Everyone waits around for the Court to begin or something to happen. For those not familiar with the process it goes something like this:

1. Sign in sheet placed out in public view.

This may just be for attorneys (City Court) but in most other courts (town and village) this is for everyone to sign in for the Court session, and write in an attorney's name, if you have one. It is also usually first come first served.

There is a Court Pecking Order

So after jail cases are dealt with (they go on first), I guess they want to get them in and get them out (maybe because they need to be guarded which cost time and money or maybe because they could be odorous from being kept overnight).

Then come private attorneys and public attorneys, then come regular un-represented people. 

2. The Court is then "opened" for business, and people take their seats.

3.  Clerk says "all rise,"Judge appears, gives a short speech on the pecking order, and if they are there for traffic offenses what their potential options are.

So back to the lady that approached me outside.

Question: Do you know how this process works?
Answer: Yes
Question: So What do I do?
Answer: What are you here for? She could be there for a criminal charge, a misdemeanor or a non-criminal charge, a violation level offense like a speeding ticket.
Question: Well I have an equipment violation for a broken tail light, and I got it fixed.

I ask, do you have proof that you fixed it? The judge can dismiss it if it has been fixed. We call this a "fix-it" ticket.

He gets it!
And He gets it too!
from bus

KEY TAKEAWAY: If you get one thing from this blog post let it be this, PROOF, PROOF, and PROOF

Courts want PROOF, Prosecutors want PROOF, after all is said and done what can you PROVE?

I see people asking for leniency, asking for dismissals, asking for money in civil cases, asking for something but they neglect to bring PROOF. The asker, the mover, carries (brings) the BURDEN of PROOF.

Answer: Well I was hoping they could come outside to my car so I could show them that I fixed it.

Wait, you want the Judge or the prosecutor to come out to your car with you to show them you fixed the light? Why didn't you bring a picture of it fixed? Why didn't you bring a receipt for the part? Why didn't you bring a mechanic service order? Something?

She looked at me, as I love to say "Flummoxed"  as in perplexed by my query. Now this is something relatively easy and simple. Yet this woman was lost. I ordered the part from ebay, and it didn't come with a packing receipt.

So I was thinking you couldn't print the ordering of the part, or the confirmation of the ordering of the part, or the confirmation of the shipping of the part? How many emails do you get when ordering anything online, a gazillion!! With a capital G.

Imagine if you will someone proceeding to handle their own criminal matter or even a serious traffic offense. Forget the process for a second, focus on the overall whole, making decisions, exploring options, and then wondering after it's over about the outcome. Scary to even think about.

Always consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

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Chosen as a 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI in Upstate New York by Super Lawyers