19204Re: I got a summons yesterday.
- Feb 28, 2013The purpose of an arraignment is simply to enter a plea. I always plead not guilty. It doesn't mean that I didn't do something - it simply means that the state hasn't proven that I'm guilty, and I'm presumed innocent until they do. Some jurisdictions proceed immediately to a hearing; others will schedule a hearing at a later date. For the former, I would ask for a continuance in order to "prepare an adequate defense." (key phrase)
Most of the items in your list are things you'll need to include in your request for discovery. I recommend that you do your homework by first reading the statute that you're charged with violating, and read up on the statutes and regulations that govern the use of speed-measuring devices. You'll find that they are very detailed. You'll also find that very often, something wasn't done that's required by those statutes and regulations, in which case you can get the judge or hearing officer to disallow the evidence from the radar (assuming a radar was the speed-measuring device). Without that evidence, the state cannot prove its case.
Bottom line: the state is trying to use the law to take money from you. Your job is to make sure that the state (via the officer) isn't violating some portion of the law in order to do that. Make sure every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed. In my request for discovery, I ask for the officer's training records (not just the records relating to his training and certification to operate the radar unit), especially his training records relating to his ability to "make a visual determination" that you were speeding, as required by the statues in my state, and likely in yours as well. If those training records indicate that his accuracy was never that good in training, I would question his accuracy at the hearing and at least introduce reasonable doubt. I ask for copies of anything and everything that's mentioned in the statutes and regulations. Perhaps the radar unit wasn't calibrated periodically as required.
I would not ask the judge for a copy of his oath because it will only piss him off. That's something that you would get from the state headquarters or the court clerk. If they are unable to provide it, then I would bring it up at the hearing, but I would caution you against having a belligerant attitude. I would approach everything very calmly and matter-of-fact, like an attorney would. My son actually had a hearing officer compliment him on how well he prepared and presented his case, and even though he found my son guilty, he ordered no points on his license and the minimum fine because of his attitude and his clean driving record. We (my son and I) decided that we could both live with that because we had more important things to do than fight jurisdictions and so forth.
At the hearing, you'll have the opportunity to ask the officer anything you like. I recommend writing your questions in advance, and just go down the list. I recommend that you attend hearings prior to yours and observe how the attorneys operate, and you'll know what to expect. You want to "get the lay of the land," so to speak.
Do your homework and make the state (represented by the officer) prove its case and jump through all the hoops. I've seen cases dismissed because the officer didn't show for whatever reason, but you can't count on it. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. My experience has been that the courts are indeed a neutral arbiter, and they give the greatest latitude possible to the individual, not the state, especially if you go in thoroughly prepared, and you treat the court with respect. Leave your attitude at the door.
I strongly recommend purchasing the material available at www.jurisdictionary.com. I met the author personally, and he said, "The reason I created this course is to protect you from people in my profession."
I'm not a lawyer (because I like to sleep at night), so none of this is to be construed as legal advice. It's merely the exercise of my right to free speech, giving the benefit of my experience.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "ACS Lab and Field" <westernwit@...> wrote:
> I am in the State of New Mexico.
> About a month ago, on a Friday after 4:00pm, I was pulled over, ostensibly, for speeding.
> I told the State Patrolman I did not know why I was stopped.
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