A deferred allows a motorist to
And my client and I found ourselves in trial that day.
The courtroom is the municipal auditorium with a stage and an applause sign above the curtain. The judge sits behind a desk on a strange little peninsula that comes out from the stage.
During voir dire I decided I was going to concentrate on three main questions in an attempt to strike as many of the
My three questions were:
1. Based on all the evidence you've heard so far, if you had to give your verdict right now, what would it be?
2. Would you give the testimony of a police officer more credibility solely because he wears a badge?, and
3. Would you require [my client] to testify in order to find him not guilty?
I asked the first question to the first 21 members of the panel and had two jurors tell me they would find my client guilty because he received a speeding ticket. That's two for cause.
I asked the second and third questions to the entire panel of 26 jurors. A total of 21 jurors said that they would give the testimony of a police officer more credibility solely because he was a police officer and not because of any training he may have received. I figured we were done right there and then as that left us with only five jurors out of the six we needed (before any peremptory strikes).
On the third question eight jurors said they would have to hear from my client before they could find him not guilty. By my tally that left us with only one juror who hadn't expressed a bias. It looked like my day was just about done.
After I sat down I asked to approach and I moved to strike 25 of the 26 jurors based on their answers to those three questions. The judge asked me if I was challenging the entire panel and I told him that's what it looked like. He then told me that wasn't going to happen. He was going to deny my request but he was gracious enough to strike seven of the jurors for cause - leaving a panel that was already predisposed to eat up the officer's testimony with no reservations.
You should already know the verdict. There was nothing further I could do because the municipal court was not a court of record (no recording of the testimony) so any appeal would lead to a trial de novo in the county court. The judge was able to act with impunity because there was no record that could ever be held up to demonstrate his blatant disregard for the law.
And I almost forgot to mention the one juror who had a migraine during the trial and, instead of sitting in the jury room with her fellow jurors, she spent her time getting sick in the ladies' room. Then there was the juror who was concerned about the time because she had to make a doctor's appointment for her mother before the office closed at five o'clock (it was an afternoon trial). I'm not thinking either one of them gave a damn about deliberating.
Then, just to make matters worse, we were told that the court would not accept an attorney's surety bond for an appeal - my client would have to post a cash bond for double the amount of the fine.
For a good many folks, traffic court is the closest they get to a courtroom in their lives. What a damn shame they experience such a cavalier attitude toward the law.