I Fought The Law...

Alright, now for MY traffic court story. About a month-or-so ago, I got a parking ticket for parking in a "driveway." Everything on the ticket was wrong - the color of my car, the address where it said I was parked, the name of the street, what the ticket was for (on one part it said I was parked in a crosswalk, on another it said I was parked blocking a driveway), and I was given the "Officer's Copy" of the ticket - which didn't even say what day I could come to court to fight the ticket.

That's it, I decided, I'm going to traffic court to fight this crap. And I'm broke enough that it's worth it to fight tooth and nail to save $50.

But first, a little background. A few years ago, when I was still in law school and my boyfriend was just starting off his career as a clerk, money was tight. (And it still is, by the way.) I, in my usual helpful way, would often advise my boyfriend on ways to save money. The primary way that I suggested was that he needed to start brown bagging his lunch. No, he refused. That boy will not eat sandwiches, will not touch leftovers. Instead, he insisted in going to a little Italian deli in the neighborhood of his office where all the Italian men gathered to watch football. The upside? On occasion, he'd bring home fresh mozzarella. Again and again, I explained that if he was spending $5-10 on lunch everyday, he could save $25-50 by packing his lunch. Nope, not happening.

But now, I suppose, it paid off. We walked into traffic court, and the court officer waved us out into the hall. Uh oh, trouble already. Maybe I'd been busted as a PD and would be forced to wait all day to see the judge. Instead, though, the officer turned to my boyfriend, "Hey! Remember me?" It turned out that the Italian Deli guy's son was all grown up and now working as a court officer. Apparently, he had also heard yesterday's story, and told me that he'd put my ticket at the top of the pile.

The judge seemed like a nice woman. I suppose she was a part-time practicing attorney and did the traffic court gig on the side. (I meant to remember her name so I could look this up, but I forgot. It was some kind of weird name. Sorry.) I sat in the audience while she heard a few cases and noticed that she was dismissing most of the cases. She seemed to acknowledge that the traffic cops were wrong most of the time. Even in cases where people admitted their guilt, if they had more than one ticket she would say, "Alright, pay the oldest one and I'll dismiss the rest."

Which almost made me wish I had gotten more than one ticket. I mean, I figured if I was going to end up paying this one ticket, maybe I should've done some more bad things.

Finally (after waiting all of 10 minutes), I saw the Italian Deli Officer lean over to the judge, hand over my ticket, and whisper something. Then my case was called. I had seen in the previous cases that the judge liked seeing photos and, luckily, I had photos.

"May I approach, Judge?" The judge stopped and looked up at me.
"Come on up, counselor." Whoa, how did she know?

I showed the photo and began to explain. Wrong address, no driveway...


...no crosswalk, wrong color car...

"Counselor, it's ok, it's dismissed."

"...and to be honest, judge, I thought this ticket was some kind of joke when I first saw it."

"Ok, counselor, calm down, dismissed."

So, yeah, I was nervous. I'm not sure why. I was more nervous fighting for my $50 than I am in criminal court fighting to keep my clients out of jail. But, in the end, it worked out - Case Dismissed, and an extra $50 for Christmas shopping in my pocket.

Outside, my boyfriend turned to me and said, "Well, I was right and you were wrong. Aren't you glad I refused to bring my lunch?"

And, now I know that if my current job doesn't work out, I can always try for a job at parkingticket.com.


  1. There ARE a few benefits to being a PD and being in the system (besides the obvious personal satisfaction shtick) that they should always be availed of. Speeding tickets, for example.

  2. Reminds me of a couple of times in my life.

    First, when I was just 16, I was busted for letting my next door neighbor drive underage. Went to court. Judge knew my father. Knew me. Asked if my father wanted to go first (being a lawyer). Nope, he was there as a father. Well, the judge insisted. So, my father launches into why I should get jail time or something. The judge interrupted him and told him that it had been dismissed - had been cited under the wrong statute. My father was arguing with the judge, trying to get him to throw the book at me, and the judge was even more adament doing a favor for him.

    Also, a couple of years ago in PHX, appealed a traffic ticket to Superior Ct., again. Again, the county atty. did not show. I launched into my oral arguments, and the judge cut me off. He had already reversed this once, what was it doing on his docket again? But he hadn't heard my arguments yet. He was just as adament.

    Needless to say, he won in the end. After all, he was the judge. He then spent the time allotted for my oral arguments drafting a scathing two page order for the lower court catigating them for wasting his time by ignoring his previous order.

  3. A policeman pulled me over and said I was going 80. I said I didn't know how fast I was going, I was in a hurry to get to work (This was true). He said our conversation was being taped. I asked to see the radar. He brought it over and it was blank. Then he said he was citing me for disobeying a traffic control device, meaning the 65 mph sign, instead of speeding. He crossed off the word "signal" in Traffic Control Signal and wrote in "device." Then he said what I was being cited for would not take off points. I just found out this is incorrect, and points would be taken off.

    In another case, I was caught in a blizzard in an interstate. Traffic was stopped, and I was caught in the left hand lane which was much thicker than the right in snow. I backed 200 ft to get into a space between 2 trucks in the right hand lane. A cop came and gave me a ticket for "backing on a controlled-access road." In that blizzard this winter, there were hundereds of car crashes, and by going into the right lane I was trying to avoid becoming one.

    How should I act in court in these 2 cases?