Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Richy Rich's Day in Court

Awhile back I wrote about a wealthy car owner who complained about the citation I wrote for parking his vehicle on a dirt lot. He called my Sergeant to complain and promised to fight the ticket in court (see the original post).

Well, our day in court finally arrived. As he and I were sworn in and seated before the judge, I was asked to present my case. I told the judge about the man's SUV parked on a vacant dirt lot. The city code violation states vehicles cannot be parked on a 'non dust-free lot'. The definition of which is: anything not paved with cement or asphalt (or, if in a residential yard with a single family home, three inches of crused rock enclosed in a border is considered okay).

He countered by announcing he was the owner of the lot (irrelevant) and that it was not a dirt lot. He claimed the entire lot was covered with crushed granite over three inches deep and, therefore, did not meet the definition of a non dust-free lot. He went on to ask if I've ever written anyone else a ticket for this violation (yes) and bragged about his numerous properties that have never been cited for poor landscape maintenance (again, irrelevant). He asked me about the names of the registered owner of the vehicle and when I gave his name, he wanted to know why I wrote the ticket out to his wife. I explained the car was registered to both him and his wife and that either name would suffice.

In closing, I explained to the judge how this guy complained to my Sergeant so I returned to the lot to double check my citation was valid. I even took pictures (but forgot to bring to court) to document the violation. I told the judge there were some scattered rocks on the property but it was almost entirely loose dirt and was certain the ticket was valid.

The man again denied the lot was dirt and stated in his best lawyer-wanna be voice, "If you are certain the lot was made of dirt, then why didn't you bring the photographs?"

The judge intervened and advised an officer's verbal testimony is valid evidence and pictures are not necessary. He then clarified the law and advised the crushed rock only applies to residential lots with a house on them.
"Well, my lot is zoned for residential and/or commercial use.", he stated.
"Is there a house built on the lot?" the judge asked.
"No, but it's zoned for it."
"There needs to be an existing house for the crushed rock to be an excuse. Therefore, I find you responsible as cited and order you to pay $140. Please see the bailiff for payment."
"Your honor! What am I supposed to do to ensure I don't get cited for parking on my lot?"
"I cannot give legal advice but you are welcome to look up the city ordinances at any library and make your own decision."

The guy was furious over being found responsible and couldn't believe a rookie cop beat him in court. It was a satisfying feeling to watch the angry rich guy come in with complete arrogance and leave in a much different attitude.

I'm proud to say I haven't lost a court case yet. I've had a dozen or so people challenge my citations and/or arrest in court and have yet to lose. We're told not to take court cases personally but I know it's a good feeling to have a judge uphold a ticket I've written.

12 Comments:

At February 07, 2007 6:34 PM, Anonymous Gamma said...

You go Gary!!! Love the results. How proud can mother be?

 
At February 07, 2007 9:18 PM, Blogger Brandon said...

Congrats on keeping your streak intact!

 
At February 07, 2007 9:22 PM, Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Congratulations!

 
At February 07, 2007 10:57 PM, Blogger Paul F. said...

Shoot, I remember my first run-in with the law. I was on an ATC riding some trails in the community where I live. I was close to the General Store and the main drag which is a stretch of road called 90th Street West. I was riding toward the store in a vacant lot and then I saw a cop giving a ticket to two other motorbike riders. (they frowned on all us kids riding dirt bike and such out in the middle of the desert...go figure) Anyway, I just turned around and went the other way. But I guess he was just finishing because he high tailed it towards me. I had my back turned to hime the whole time. I heard some sirens but I didn't know it was for me. When I finally realized he actually was after me and driving off the dirt road to get to me, I just stopped to accept my fate.

He stopped his car and came walking towards me pulling out his handcuff. The guy took my ass to jail for evading arrest, endangering plant and wildlife and trespassing on private property.

So. I took pictures, got permission from the owners of the land and presented my case that my back was turned to him the whole time and when I realized he was after me, I stopped.

Well, I won Mr. Officer "O" that day.

Seriously, it's a cool blog you got here. It's nice to see things from an officers perspective.

 
At February 08, 2007 6:15 AM, Blogger Craig D said...

Sweet!

 
At February 08, 2007 9:59 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Give it some time my friend. You won't win them all.

 
At February 09, 2007 10:32 AM, Anonymous ronda said...

WOOO HOOO, thats my brother...

 
At February 10, 2007 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember, it's NOT all about winning.
It's about having fun fucking with people.

 
At February 10, 2007 7:44 PM, Blogger Kate said...

my experience has been that the cases my cops take most personally are the petty traffic tags. course to get most of them to issue one in the first place means the driver SERIOUSLY pissed the cop off. that being said, i take losses personally; i think it goes with the job.

 
At March 21, 2007 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Usually, I always agree with everything you post but....

seems to me a guy should be able to park on HIS own land. I can even see giving a citation for doing donuts and kicking up dust or something but for just parking... lame.

Love the blog though...

 
At May 29, 2007 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, let me say I love your blog. 9 times out of 10, your entries keep me in stitches. Of the one remaining, 90 percent of those entries leave me with a big grin. You've got yourself a fan. However, this entry struck a nerve with me.. Now, I've been in the game long enough to know that in all probability, your superiors have directed you to write citations like this one during your "slow periods." However, I also take on the perspective of Joe Citizen from time to time, just to keep myself in check with the job that I do. As such, I imagine a citizen who takes the time to read this and think about it afterwards might say to himself:

"Someone broke out a window in my car and stole my stereo. When I called the police, they said an officer would call back to take the report over the phone. 4 hours later, I finally got a call back. The officer took the basic information, and then gave me a report number for insurance purposes. He gave me some schpeel about how the serial number of my stereo will be entered into the national crime database. He was polite, but I can pretty much count on never seeing that stereo again, because of the fact that no substantive amount of investigation has been performed.

I was told that large agencies like Phoenix PD simply do not have the manpower or resources to investigate small burglaries like mine.

Yet, I stumbled across the online journal of a supposed Phoenix Police Officer. In the same metro area where I had a whole three minutes of police attention for the crime of which I was a victim, an officer has cited a man for parking on a dirt lot. This man didn't hurt anybody. There was no victim. He did nothing wrong, other than park in a dirt lot, an act contrary to some petty code most likely promulgated by special interest groups. He didn't stop there though. When the man contested the citation, this officer showed up to court to make his case. This means either one of two things: Either the officer cared enough to come in on his day off, or he was taken off of the street, where he was really needed, for a significant amount of time. All because he wanted to make sure justice was served on a silver platter to the man who was brazen enough to park his own vehicle on his own "non dust free" lot.

It doesn't end there. He went on to write not one, but two blog entries in great detail where he not only recounted the experience, but bragged because this particular perpetrator was an affluent individual. As if for some reason, the fact that this person was percieved as "rich" made the officer's exploits all the more notable.

Yet, here I sit, vacuuming the broken glass out of my car, trying to figure out how much it'll cost me to replace everything, all because they "don't have the manpower" to do more than take a report over the phone. Ladies and Gentlemen, your tax dollars at work"

Obviously, I have had my car broken into here in the valley. However, I do work in law enforcement and realize that the logistics of running a department, keeping enough officers on the road, and the general unpredictability of call load and other factors make it impossible for every crime victim to recieve the attention they feel they deserve. However, I also realize the average citizen isn't quite so enlightened, and may be subject to taking on the perspective I outlined earlier. Anyway, it was a great read nonetheless and I will definitely be looking forward to more of the same.

 
At December 10, 2013 11:29 PM, Blogger Brian Mayeux said...

your an asshole cop get a life and stop writing stupid tickets

 

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