Originally Posted by Unregistered
First of all, get comfortable, this is long, but could save you points, a clean record, and dollars.
My son got a ticket for speeding in a school zone 35 GA. Luckily, we were able to use a lot of the evidence against us as evidence against the state.
(1) DO YOUR HOMEWORK - Saying I'm a good person or I made honor roll means NOTHING in a court of law. ALSO, watch some actual court cases. Realize there is a set procedure that judges DO NOT vary from. You get to give an opening statement, as does the state if they choose. The state gets to present their evidence (in our case video). The state gets to call their witness (the officer). They will question him, you get to cross examine. This includes asking questions about their video, equipment, etc. You CAN NOT make statements to the witness, you can only ask him questions. You CAN make statements as well as present your evidence, but you can also be cross examined. You CAN call the witness again if your evidence will then be used to rebuke some of their claims. BE READY for all of the above including what they might ask you.
(2) Go view the video the state has against you. It's called disclosure and they have to let you see it. When viewing the evidence we found;
(A) The dashboard camera clock had not been updated since AT LEAST the time change before our citation. His clock showed it to be just after 1300 hours instead of 1400 hours (school zone went into effect at 2:00 p.m.
(B) The officer called in a time from a different clock that is never seen on the video, that was 3 minutes off from the dashboard clock IF it had been updated at the last time change.
(C) The car came into view, and was radar clocked one minute BEFORE the officer called in the time (2:05 - 2:06).
(D) The officer was sitting right in front of a sign with flashing lights letting you know the school zone is now in effect (Georgia law 40-14-9 states that evidence obtained by a radar within 600 feet of a reduction of speed limit sign is inadmissable in court).
(3) Most prosecutors (as was ours) are well aware of 40-14-9, and will instead use the officers testimony as evidence that you were speeding. For the record if the prosecuter does not try to use his testimony as evidence, but relies solely on the radar, Object that the evidence be ruled inadmissable in accordance with 40-14-9.
(A) This means you have to try to discredit the officers testimony as merely human opinion that can be wrong. Any mistakes on the ticket, or any other evidence, INCLUDING trick questions will help here.
(A1) The officer listed the car as Tan instead of Gold on the ticket. We showed him color samples and a bill of sale on the car, which showed the first flaw in his opinion being used as testimony.
(A2) Ask the officer, "Since it was your estimation that the vehicle was speeding, could you please tell me the formula for velocity"?
(A3) In our case, the lights on the sign he was sitting in front of started flashing 3 minutes before the lights on the sign coming from our direction (the state owns these clocks, not me, so once again, using their evidence against them here). We asked the officer the following loaded question; "Is there a sign with lights that start flashing at the same time on the other end of the school zone"? The answer was, "yes" and yet another building block was in place.
(4) PRESENT YOUR EVIDENCE, Make your testimony. We showed a video we had made of the lights being 3 minutes apart. We argued that not only was there a three minute difference there, but also, noted that the clock on the dashborad camera had not been updated in AT LEAST 6-8 months, and even IF we gave the benefit of the doubt that the time would have been fairly accurate had it been updated, it was STILL 3 minutes different from the time the officer called in 1 minute AFTER he radar detected the car.
(5) You WILL be cross examined. Don't say anything to trip yourself up, but don't lie either. Were you driving the car? Yes. How fast were you going? I can't be sure, I wasn't looking at the speedometer at the time. Do you believe you were going over (or under) the speed limit? Like I said, I don't know, I wasn't looking at the speedometer at the time.
(6) Recall the witness (officer) now that your evidence has been seen. Ask questions that he will have no choice but to tell the truth to (yes, officers are human, and given the chance they may lie under oath). Some that we asked were;
(A) Seeing the time on your dashboard camera, is it safe to say the time on that evidence is inaccurate?
(B) Seeing that you called in a time that would have been off by 3 minutes IF we gave the benefit of the doubt that the time would have been accurate had it been updated, do you see a 3 minute time discrpency? He actually tried to say there was no time discrpency at that time, so we reminded him of the time he called in vs. the time on his dashboard camera and asked the quetion again.
(C) After seeing the video, do you still think that there are lights that start flashing at the same time on the sign on the other end of the school zone? He tried to claim he had not said that, and since you CAN NOT make a statement to the witness, we asked if he remembered answering the following question with a "yes" earlier in his testimony, "Is there a sign with lights that start flashing at the same time on the other end of the school zone"? Now he was forced to answer yes.
(D) Officer sense we know there was a MINIMUM three minute time discrepancy (held up 3 fingers on one hand) on the clocks in your car, and a three minute time discrepancy (held up 3 fingers on the other hand), how much of a MINIMUM time descrepancy was there? The obvious answer was 6.
(E) Officer, since we know there is a MINIMUM 6 minute time discrepancy, and we know that the vehicle was originally clocked at supposedly 2:05, what is 2:05 minus 6 minutes? 1:59.
(F) Is the school zone speed limit in effect before 2:00? No
(G) Based on this testimony, the clocks that opperate the lights on the signs being 3 minutes apart, and the clocks in your car being 3 minutes apart, IS IT POSSIBLE that it indeed was not officially 2:00 yet? (What you are doing here is if nothing else putting in the judges mind that there is a REASONABLE DOUBT which is all you need).
(7) IF the officers testimony is used as "evidence" that you were speeding, you need to attack his testimony. The reason some of my earlier questions were asked was in preperation for this.
(A) Officer you stated earlier today that it was your opinion that the car was tan correct? yes
(B) However, after seeing the video and a copy of the bill of sale, the car is actually gold isn't it? Yes
(C) And the car was sitting still in front of you when you wrote the color tan on the citation wasn't it? yes
(D) Wasn't it also your opinion that there was a sign with lights that started flashing at the same time on the other end of the school zone? Yes.
(E) And like the car, these signs are stationary correct? Yes
(F) Officer, since your opinion was inaccurate on these stationary items, how can you prove that your opinion would have been accurate on an item moving toward you? He claimed it was part of his police training, and the judge bought it, it was still worth the effor.
(8) CLOSING STATEMENT (Argument) I had my opening and closing statements ready, as well as every question I would ask him, and things I thought they would ask to try to trip us up, ready, and printed well in advance. Your closing statement is going to be a short wrap up of everything you've shown through evidence, and testimony. We went with the fact that the state owned all 4 clocks used as evidence, none were synchronized, one had not been updated in 6-8 months, and all were off by at least 3 minutes, therefore the state can not prove what the actual time was. Furthermore, with the time discrepancies we've been able to show in court today, including the officers testimony, there is a VERY reasonable doubt as to whether it was 2:00 yet or not. We ask that the court dimiss the charges based on the reasonable doubt as to what time it actually was, and the states inability to prove that time due to their neglagnce in updating the clocks they own.
THE RESULT: First of all, we were lucky; there was plenty of scraps left for us by the the clock information. Who would have thought the clocks that opperated the flashing lights on the sign would have been out of synchronozation by 3 minutes?Even so, it was up to us to do our own homework and present this evidence in court. After viewing thier video a month before the trial we found two more pieces of evidence that would work our way in that his dashboard camera had not been updated at the last time change (a month and a half earlier) which meant the absolute most recent time it could have been updated was at the previous time change 6 months before that. Add to all of that, the time called in was still yet another time. Basically the state left lots of room for us to show negligence on their part of offical time pieces, and therefore a lack of ability to prove their case, while at the same time allowing up to show a real reasonable doubt. The judge said that based on the officers experience, he would accept his testimony as evidence to the actual speed, however, due to the states inability to prove and actual time, there was a reasonable doubt as to whether it was 2:00 or not, found us not guilty and let us know we were free to leave.
OTHER THAN THAT: The judge did get a little irritated with the constant mentioning of time. SO WHAT!!!! This is your day in court, you have the right to defend yourself and it's his job to make legal decisions, not to decide if he wants to hang out with you this weekend.
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: You HAVE to do your homework. You HAVE to look for mistakes they made. A ticket begins a procedure, and both sides have rules to follow. Finding flaws only helps your case. Watch cases in advance of yours whenever you get the chance. See how the procedures of a court room work; otherwise it will be a very frustrating day.
WHEN YOU GET PULLED OVER AND WHEN YOU ARE IN COURT: Your defense STARTS as soon as you see flashing lights in your mirror. Be courteous, and don't fall for trick questions on the scene(Do you know how fast you were going? Do you know why I pulled you over? Etc.), you're probably being taped already. THE LESS YOU SAY AT THAT TIME, THE BETTER OFF YOU WILL BE....SAY NOTHING INCRIMINATING. Once you get to court, you will probably be a little intimidated; this is a rareity for you, but something judges, lawyers, and cops do every day. BE PREPARED IN ADVANCE. Have all of your notes ready. TAKE YOUR TIME, BREATH, DRINK WATER AS NEEDED. It's hard to maintain this mindset, but that courtroom is every bit of yours as it is their's. Your taxes pay for it, and it's your right to defend yourself. When it's over, no matter what the outcome, hold you head high; any loser can just hand over the fine but it takes guts to make them take it from you. Of course you'll be happy if you win, but keep it inside until you leave the court room. If you loose, no temper tantrums; like I said, it's all a process, and at the end of the day everybody goes home....hopefully with a clean driving record and your money in your pocket.