Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Trial Of The Century
Those of you keeping score at home will know what today is. Yes, it is September 3, the day in which I got my day in court on the fiasco where Officer McBreakfast Taco, aka Deputy Constable Williams of Montgomery County, Texas, tried to bully me off the road, and when I complained to his supervisor, saw fit to back date a ticket for failing to "git off the road."
Anyone of you who has seen me practice law would know that my anal retentive preparation knows no bounds. I have even been accused of filing a Motion For Summary Judgment from the bike course of Ironman Coeur d'Alene. This, of course is false, but totday, I was loaded for bear. I had my exhibits prepared. I had my copy of the Transportation Code. I had blown up pictures of the site of the road where he accosted me, and I had a blown up map showing the location of his house about a mile away from the spot of the violation.
I made short work of the violation, persuaded the prosecutor to dismiss the ticket altogether, and was done by 9:00. Because that's what kind of lawyer I am. I'm that good.
OK, it really did not have anything to do with my ability. It was only because I was a lawyer at all. Since I had on my best lawyer suit and bow tie, I got to take a seat in front of the bar instead of standing around the wall with the rest of the (alleged) criminals. Then, the bailiff (the one with the gun) instructed me to cut in line (because you're a lawyer) and check in with the clerk and tell her who my client was--er, me. Then, the prosecutor called on me and met with me first, because I'm a lawyer and had on my fancy suit. Meanwhile, the rest of the citizen taxpayers looked on with a degree of jealous loathing that made me glad they had all been wanded and run through a metal detector before coming into the courtroom.
I know. It totally sucks for the rest of the folks who also have jobs and schedules. But, membership has its privileges.
Anyway, it wasn't really lawyering skill that achieved the dismissal. The only "skill" involved was being an attorney with 14 years experience knowing that it costs nothing to be nice, even if you feel like being a hot head. I walked into the conference room with the prosecutor, smiled, shook her hand, introduced myself and my case.
She knew me immediately.
I had called the prosecutor a couple of weeks ago, and left a polite message, explaining my particular case, and encouraging her to look into it, as I intended to try it unless it was dismissed--something they almost never do. She did look into it. Because of the polite heads up, she knew my case from the hundreds in her file (only one involving a bicycle no doubt), said they had taken pictures of the road where I was cited, and proceeded to dismiss it because it was too narrow for the statute I "violated" to even apply. (A cyclist is entiteld to "take the lane" when it is less than 14 feet wide in Texas. This one had an 11 foot lane and an uneven 2 foot shoulder).
So, we talked a bit about local cycling clubs because she is interested getting more into cycling. I told her about the Woodlands Cycling Club and the fact that the head DA, her boss, is actually a member. After our friendly visit, I shook her hand as an honored colleague, and walked out of there at 8:57.
Then a nice lady tried to hire me in the parking lot. True story.
So, Greyhound 1, Deputy Constable Williams 0. But my point has not yet been made.
In all probability, Constable Williams never intended to show for trial anyway. And his boss, who was willing to whitewash his conduct and issue a citation for a roadway where the statute does not even apply, is still in office at the pleasure of the local voters. And neither of them knows anything more about the rights of cyclists now than they did before. So, is it over?
Nope. It is on.
Constable Williams and the Chief Deputy who had his back get another letter, and another chance to apologize. If they do, then we're all friends again.
If they do not, they will be thrown into the displinary system for bad law enforcement officers, and (still thinking on this one) perhaps a criminal complaint as well, because of the manner in which Constable Williams endangered me with his pickup truck. I'd be in jail if I had done it to him. Only fair that he should have to clear his name and have a criminal complaint on his record.
And one more thing. Every time a deputy constable gets a raise, it has to be posted on the agenda for the county administrative hearing. Those agendas are public record and are searchable online. Who knows who might show up to object and question the good officer next time Constable Williams' merit comes up for discussion?
This will go easier if he just says, "I was wrong. I'm sorry." What are the odds his pride allows him to do it?