Wayne County and the Justice Courts — Not Always a Good Combination

Needs a little work, eh? So does the Justice Court in this town. (Author’s Collection)

\\ DUH//  Ever wonder why being called a “315-er” is so insulting?  Well, we do have our share of trailer trash (and some of them don’t even live in trailers!) and lots of apples and grapes and potatoes and things, but I think what caps the phrase is what happens when a few of the natives get themselves some edjumication and then are turned loose  in the Justice Courts…

"What?? There's a '97 Saturn? With a short person driving it??? Where, Chief? OK, we're on the case!" "Let's go, boys! Corner of Slocum and Ridge --We gotta get her before she hits the Monroe County line!"

“What?? There’s a ’97 Saturn? With a short person driving it??? Where, Chief? OK, we’re on the case!” “Let’s go, boys! Corner of Slocum and Ridge –We gotta get her before she hits the Monroe County line!”

…which I know about firsthand, since I habitually and shamelessly violate the rights of The People of the State of New York by driving through their neighborhoods while being short.  In truth, short stature is terribly inconvenient, but it’s not a crime — not as long as your doctor writes you a medical exemption, that is, which you handily produce for Officer Friendly upon demand.  But what if you can’t find it, despite nervously rummaging through all the junk in your car that you now wish you had cleaned out yesterday? No matter, as long you “timely produce” a replacement to the Court, who will then dismiss the ticket — or so says Officer Friendly.   In fact, two of the Courts did just that, and one even apologized for it having gotten that far (but that was in Monroe County)…

"Nip it, right now...why, you let some old lady drive around town without a seat belt, and she'll soon be back with an even bigger crime...like contempt of court!"  (Wise words from Barney Fife and Google Images)

“Nip it, Judge, and nip it right now..if you let some old lady drive around town without a seat belt, she’ll soon be back with an even bigger crime…like contempt of court!” (Wise words from Barney Fife and Google Images)

…except that’s not how it works in one Wayne County town court, where a lawfully written medical exemption means nothing, even if produced on the very same day that Officer Friendly produced his ticket.  Law?  That judge don’t need no stinkin’ law!  All he needed was an overwhelmingly ignorant misinterpretation of VTL 1229 subsection 5 and the assistance of a churlish and plethoric prosecutor to meritriciously achieve justice for the duly offended People…and he did this before I even walked into the courthouse…

"It says right here [that you're guilty of not being short enough...] I'm reading it from the book, okay, so don't show me something you got off the Internet."  Transcript, p. 19 (Google Images and His Honorable Fred Gwynne)

“It says right here [that you're guilty of not being short enough...] I’m reading it from the book [what book?], okay, so don’t show me something you got off the Internet.” (Google Images, Trial Transcript, and Fred Gwynne (“did you say, ‘yout’?”)…)

…because when I got there, I discovered I was guilty of two crimes —  being short, and (worse) wasting the Court’s time with a pro se defense.  NY VTL 1229c-7 be damned, I was doomed to be fined, even if the prosecutor had to lie about the evidence and the presiding justice had to create his own rogue law, which is exactly what they did — after, of course, after they discussed ex parte precisely how it should be done.

Was I surprised to find out that this judge is not a lawyer?   And that his “legal training” consists of an associate’s degree in accounting that he got 48 years ago from some farm school out in Cobleskill? and that the only courtroom experience he has is his own?  but has been sitting on a bench, making “legal” decisions that affect people’s lives for 27 years?  and STILL didn’t understand VTL 1229c-5 until I filed a motion (with case law citations and sworn affidavits appended thereto) that explained it to him???  Yeah, I was surprised all right, even more so when I found out that 72% of town justices statewide, at last count (2012) of the NY Magistrates Association) are making “lawful” decisions with a similar lack of legal training and experience.   Where I come from (which is a neighboring state, not another planet), this is called “practicing law without a license” and if you try it you will get arrested, jailed, and fined.   Wow, talk about Wayne County:  Land of Stupid…

How can you tell when a lawyer is lying...I think we ALL know that answer to that one... (Google Images)

No job?  No skills? No experience?  But a huge ego? And you look good in black?  No problem! (have I got a job for you…!)  (Google Images)

… but this isn’t just a Wayne County thing.  In each town or village in this State, about 1277 of them, there is a local “Justice Court” where you, too, can practice law without a license.  If collecting unemployment,  slinging hamburgers, working the farm, or sitting in a cube at Xerox has got you down and you are 18 or over, all you need are enough friends to vote for you and not the other guy. Or, forget all that and just find A Very Important Person to recommend you for an appointment. Then, you attend the next training course given by the New York State Unified Court System Office of Court Administration (OCA), where you spend all of 8 DAYS hearing all you need to hear about holding court.  After that they send you home with a “certification to assume the bench,” which, once filed in accordance with UJCA Section 105 (probably the only law you’ll ever want to know about, besides Section 77b, of course) entitles YOU to a courtroom of your very own!  Now’s the time to buy yourself a clean T-shirt (R U Diggin It?) or, if you really take yourself seriously, a black robe–the one you (or one of your kids) rolled up and stuck in a closet after graduating from high school a few years ago will do until you can bill the taxpayers for a nicer one…

"Hey, I know a courtroom that could use your money...here's a ticket -- gets you in for free, but you'll have to pay to get out..."  (Courtesy Google Images and Deputy T---y _P----tt).

“Hey, I know a courtroom that could use your money! So, here’s a ticket — this’ll get you in for free, but you’ll have to pay to get out…” (A public service announcement from Google Images and Wayne County’s very own Officer Friendly, a/k/a Deputy Sheriff T***y P****tt).

…Finally! After working so hard for 8 DAYS (well, more like 7-1/2, really) and filing your official “I-Went-To-Judge-School-And-All-I-Got-Was-This-Lousy-Certificate” certificate (suitable for framing) — voila!   You’re a judge!  presiding over your very own courtroom! where, clad in The Honorable Finery of Your Choice, you spend maybe 4-5 days a month adjudicating the local miscreants, most of whom are supplied to you by Officer Friendly, the rest being deadbeats who don’t pay their rent or who otherwise ripped off some law-abiding village resident to the tune of $3000 or less ($5000 or less for the townies).  After annoying them all, plaintiff and defendant alike, with your 8-day allocation of judicial wisdom, they leave the courthouse one by one, the traffic violators nursing their wounded wallets and the civil litigants grumbling about how the opposing party got off way too easy — but it’s all good, because it’s your courtroom!  where everyone calls you “Your Honor”! and stands up when you enter!  and does whatever you tell them!  and if the defendant pro se gets on Your Honorable Nerves, you can do things like roll up several pages of NY VTL 1229c and shake them at her while bellowing, “This is criminal court!  You’re a criminal now!”

Question for the OCA (raising hand politely):  If you watch 6 hours of Judge Judy, will that satisfy the home study mandate? (Google Images)

Question for the OCA (raising hand politely): If you watch 6 hours of Judge Judy, will that satisfy the home study mandate? (Google Images)

Well, there are *some* responsibilities that come with the job.  Like, you have to take “advanced training” once a year.  It’s really no big deal because from what I can find, it’s only 12 HOURS a year… 6 of which can be done from home…and the taxpayers pay for it all (that’s you and me, folks), including giving YOU a nice big chunk o’ change to reward you for missing that beer-drinking, deer-hunting weekend or putting off til next month that downstate city shopping venture with your BFFs…while you stay home, order pizza, and spend a few hours reading legal stuff and drinking coffee to stay awake.

VTL 1229c-5, the sure-fire antidote to the wakeful state (Google Images)

VTL 1229c-5, a sure-fire antidote to the wakeful state (Google Images)

Hopefully some of this training might include NY VTL 1229c, especially subsection 5.  Maybe I’ll volunteer to teach that class.  I mean, it’s not exactly rocket science.  I understood it after reading it twice — once to figure it out and a second time to make sure I didn’t miss anything — which took maybe all of 90 seconds.  However, it apparently befuddled His Dumb-Ass Honor for 27 years, despite all that updated OCA training and a mentoring judge holding his hand…

Busted! (Again! ) Image Courtesy of New York Newsday, July 24, 2012

Busted! (Again!) Image Courtesy of New York Newsday, July 24, 2012

Anyhow, Your Honor should also probably join this: http://nysmagassoc.homestead.com  (see image, below, right) but they’re a fun group — the 2013 conference is at Lake Placid, baby!  And you get a license plate with “SMA” on it, which guarantees you can drive as fast and crazy as you want without ever getting a ticket — that is, unless you are driving drunk and get into an accident.  In that case, if you smack into another car so hard that the driver’s glasses “fly off her face” and “the bolts securing [your] license plate” get stuck in her car, you”ll get a handful of tickets, but who cares — while you recover from Your Honorable Hangover, the DA bumps everything down to a single Class A misdemeanor, for which you endure The Honorable Slap on the Wrist, but —  you’re still a judge!  and no one even thought of rolling up any legal papers to shake at you while bellowing “You’re a criminal now!”

http://www.scjc.state.ny.us/Determinations/A/Apple.Robert.P.pdf).

Even if you do it again 3 years later, you won’t get fired or anything. They’ll put you on paid (!!) leave while the Judicial Commission scratches its head and wonders what to do with you, and that can take months:

http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Legal/News/2012/10_-_October/Town_justice_suspended_following_second_DWI_arrest/

"Oh, I'm not vacationing, I'm recovering from my illness..."  (Google Images)

It’s not a vacation when it’s “therapy.”   (Google Images)

Bummer, dude.  Oh, not for Justice Apple — it’s a bummer for you and me, who are paying for his vaca– , I mean “leave.”  Especially since, when this case rolled around the Judicial Commission’s agenda for a second time, they extended his paid leave because

“The commission believes that public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary … would be undermined were Judge Apple to continue to exercise the power of judicial office in one court while contemporaneously defending against two felony charges pending against him in other courts.”

http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Legal/News/2012/11_-_November/NY_high_court_continues_suspension_of_judge_facing_felony_DWIs/

Wanna pay more for small claims filing fees? How about paying for full pensions for justices (who may work only 4 or 5 times a month...) Or for judicial immunity so that none of them ever have to worry about being sued or disciplined for their rogue-law decisions?  Well, we'll pay for it all if the Magistates Association has its way...

Wanna pay more for small claims filing fees? How about for full pensions for justices (who may work only 4 or 5 times a month…) Or for judicial immunity so that none of them ever have to worry about being sued or disciplined for their rogue-law decisions? Well, now you know why town and village justices join the  Magistrates Association…

Whoa, back the truck up! “Public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary” is indeed tested whenever a judge commits a crime, but this member of the public would further opine that said “confidence” seriously lessens whenever *any* court official disregards the law, including when a prosecutor favors some judge by dumbing down the multiple charges arising from his drunk-driving accident into a single, much less serious charge that ignores the personal injuries and property damages he caused. Furthermore, and again IMHO, any remaining judicial “integrity” goes right down the toilet when one realizes that this kind of practice is not just acceptable, it is welcomed in up to 72% of the town and village courts, where presiding justices are seated after only 8 days of “legal” training and are never required to obtain even half of a basic law school education, which thereby requires a heavy reliance upon the prosecutor’s (in)discretion —

Uh, excuse me, Your Honor, but you won't find any evidence dated April 11, 2012 *there*, either.  The only evidence is in the court file, and it's dated April 10, 2012.

Uh, excuse me, Your Honor, but the only evidence in this case is dated April 10, 2012.  So, when the prosecutor said “what we have here is an exemption dated after that” and then “gave the Court the discretion of how to proceed” based thereon, she was ly– I mean, ‘mistaken.’ ”  Courtesy Google Images and Trial Transcript p. 16.

— which is exactly how one Wayne County Justice Court bypassed a valid subsection 7 defense to issue a guilty verdict in a harmless seat belt case.  Even when His Honorably Belated Examination of the Evidence proved its legal firmus (thereby exposing the lies inherent in said “discretion”), the Court upheld the verdict by concocting an extralegal “height requirement” from His Honorable But Incredibly Ridiculous And Therefore Negligent Misinterpretation of VTL 1229c-5…

A 9-year-old boy...the only one who could possibly conform to His Honorable But Totally Illegal "Height Requirement."  Courtesy Google Images, National Center for Health Statistics, and Department of Health and Human Services.

A 9-year-old boy…the only one who could possibly conform to the  lawless “height requirement” thunk up by an OCA-certified Wayne County town justice.   Courtesy Google Images, The National Center for Health Statistics, a Very Clumsy Bailiff, and the Honorable Side Room of a certain Wayne County Town Court.

…which, according to that same Commission, preserves rather than violates the “integrity of the court” (and I have their letter to prove it), so go figure, Mr. Tembeckjian, and please let me know what drugs they were on when they determined *that* [insert eye roll here]…

But I digress.

So, what does the Commission think happens to “public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary” when said judge avoids all this felony stuff and pleads “I’m-guilty-but-only-because-I’m-sick” so he can go to “treatment court”?

http://www.lohud.com/article/20130130/NEWS02/301290119/Pawling-judge-pleads-guilty-Carmel-DWI

Easy one!  It depends on just WHO has to pay for the treatment (and all that leave time) required for said sick party to recover.

Blow some dust off that Action Plan and read it yourself right here, on the NY UCS site: http://alturl.com/t9zxh(Image courtesy Google Images)

Wipe some dust off that Action Plan and read it yourself right here, on the NY UCS site: http://alturl.com/t9zxh
And while you’re at it, read the Update, too (Image courtesy Google Images)

I’m not the first one or even the only one who thinks the justice courts need reform.  After the New York Times‘s “Broken Bench” series appeared in 2006, the problem was out in the open.  So, a couple of REAL judges — you know, the ones who actually went to law school? so they could practice law? and thus earn the right to become a judge? — a couple of these REAL judges from the Unified Court System responded to the Times‘s exposé with An Action Plan for the Justice Courts (2006) that used words like “overhaul” and “extended training,” but that was pretty much ignored.   So, they wrote another, stronger report 2 years later that says things like “The current array of justice courts is not the result of any rational assessment of state or local needs” and “The proliferation of justice courts wastes state, county, and local resources,” which, translated into you-and-me language, means something like  “there’s far too many of these things, and they don’t accomplish much besides wasting taxpayer dollars.” Wow, eh?  Then they rocked the world of the wannabe’s by suggesting that candidates be at least 25 years old, have 2 years of college, and spend TWO WHOLE WEEKS in training plus more time in home study.  And if that wasn’t trouble enough, they sought to revamp the testing procedure to eliminate vacuous questions like this one (even though I know from experience that there is at least one Wayne County justice with a 2-year, horse-college accounting degree, 6 days of OCA training (which is all that was required for The Honorable Class of ’86), and 27 years on the bench who still doesn’t know the answer):

“True or False:  Litigants who appear in court must be treated with respect.

osha-caution-do-not-enter-without-a-confined-space-permit-safety-sign

Good advice from Google Images and OSHA.  So be sure you get one, even if  “side room” occupancy is ordered by the court.

(because it is utterly impossible for His Dubious Honor to treat litigants with respect as long as his courtroom is equipped with a “side room,” just sayin’).

Unfortunately, I can’t find where this report, which sits on the Unified Court System website collecting its  cyber-equivalent of dust, has had much effect.   It seems that once the furor over “Broken Benches” dissipated, so did the impetus to improve the justice courts.  Oh, sure, the Two-Year Plan Update (2008) adopted lots of the Action Plan‘s recommendations, including upping the 8 days of training to 7 weeks:

http://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/JusticeCourts2YearUpdate9-08.pdf

but this training is hardly “pre-bench” when certifications are issued to all “newly elected or appointed” candidates after only 8 days of education, allowing them to practice law before completing anything “advanced” (see blogpost regarding Section 17.2).  Don’t get me wrong, 7 weeks of study, whether it is pre-bench or learned on the job, is a definite improvement over 8 days, but it is still woefully deficient when compared to the education one needs just to begin practicing law in this state.

"This is criminal court!  You're a criminal now!"

“This is criminal court! You’re a criminal now!” (Google Images, but the resemblance is striking, even sans the facial hair)

What is more obvious are the rather innocuous suggestions adopted from the Action Plan.  This is why you can pay your traffic fine with a credit card — big deal, I paid mine with a check (which is what prompted all that judicial rolled-up paper-shaking and epithet-bellowing) — and all court proceedings are supposed to be mechanically recorded —  you know, to prevent that transcript-editing thing (but nobody out here records anything, or so says Someone Important at the local appeals court, despite what the Judicial Commission tells me and not to mention Part 30.1 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge)…

In Re:  Gault, 387 I.S. 1, 87 S.CT. 1428, 18 L.Ed. 2d. 527 (1967), "Under our constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court."    Nor does the condition of being a 62-year-old short person, just sayin'.   .  .  .  .  AND . . . . . . Associate Justice William O. Douglas:  "It is the right of the accused to be tried by a legally constituted court, not by a kangaroo court"  (Williams v. U.S., 341 U.S. 97, 71 S.CT, 576, 95 L.Ed. 774, [1951].   Except when Wayne County collides with the town and village justice courts,  just sayin'

WHAT THE U.S. SUPREME COURT SAID ABOUT THAT:  “Under our constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court.” In Re: Gault, 387 I.S. 1, *& S.CT. 142, 18 L.Ed. 2d. 527 (1967).   Nor does the condition of being a 62-year-old short person, just sayin‘. . . . . AND . . . . . .  “It is the right of the accused to be tried by a legally constituted court, not by a kangaroo court”  Williams v. U.S., 341 U.S. 97, 71. S.CT, 576, 95 L.Ed. 774, (1951).  Huh?  “A legally constituted court”??  Where in Wayne County are you going to find one of those???? (image per Google Images, legal research courtesy of  ME!)

…Regretfully, the significant and necessary changes, the ones that have at least a fighting chance of legitimizing the town and village courts and (hopefully) seating justices who can read, interpret, and properly apply the law, including but not limited to Rules, Part 30.1 (and VTL 1229c!) have outgrown both the Action Plan and its Update and beg new scrutiny from the administrative judges. Meanwhile, the tainted, erratic, hit-or-miss justice court decisions continue to be meted out, thus ensuring that the sequential use of the words “justice” and “court” remain not only contradictio in terminis but also idem eadem idem to nothing more than kangaroo court.  And we all know what the Supreme Court said about THAT (well, if you don’t, then read the caption on the picture over there and you will).  

"There's a holdup in the Bronx, Brooklyn's broken out in fights, there's a traffic jam in Harlem that's backed up to Jackson Heights." "ooo, ooo, let's go!" "Can't, we gotta take care of this old lady who refuses to wear her seat belt!"(Image courtesy Google Images)

“There’s a holdup in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights, there’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights.” “ooo, ooo, let’s go!” “Can’t, we gotta take care of this old lady who refuses to wear her seat belt!”
(Image courtesy Google Images)

So, until the OCA changes things or until I get a height transplant (whichever comes first), I will continue to carry with me THREE lawfully written notes from my doctor (two of them notarized), each written specifically for His Dimwitted Honor, plus a copy of this essay stapled to the front.  If nothing else, it will keep Officer Friendly occupied while (s)he runs your license and registration check, and if you look in your rear-view mirror you might see a smile when (s)he gets to the NY VTL 1229c-5 part (or maybe the shaking-the-rolled-up-papers part), in which case the officer will send you on your ticketless way with a stern warning to drive carefully, all the while trying not to laugh.

"...whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you..." (Google Images)

“…whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you…” (Google Images)

At least, that’s what happened to me a couple of  Tuesdays ago, when I got stopped.  But then I got stopped again this past Tuesday, January 22nd, for the third time this year, 2013, in beautiful not-so-downtown Wayne County, and Officer P****e was not laughing.  He actually got into my car, adjusted the seat belt himself, and witnessed how it STILL went across my neck, posing a definite safety hazard and confirming everything my doctor wrote.  Sheesh, what’s a cop to do?  So many quotas, but not enough seat belt violators to earn even a set of jumper cables, much less the iPad on p. 24 of the rewards catalog that his kid is pestering him for. . .

"Beam me up, Scotty. . ."

“Beam me up, Scotty…in fact, beam all of us up and away from this Land of Legal Stupid…”

In any event, I have no doubt that I will eventually wind up in another justice court, but I do hope that occurs well after some Very Important Person is subjected to the same kind of treatment that you and I receive therein.  I suspect that would do more to improve this oxymoronic institution than all the Action Plans and Updates in the world.

Posted in That Oxymoron Known as the "Justice Court:" How To Practice Law without a License | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Put the ‘Moron’ in Oxymoron?

Damned if I know <shrug> but here are some nameless copyright-free Google Images of no one in particular to look at while we ponder that question. . .

Friends 003

Ulysses S. Grant, the famous Civil War general and later president, was known for his unpretentious manner and dry wit…one stormy night he walked into the general store in Galena, Illinois,  where several lawyers were warming themselves near the fire, none of whom recognized Galena’s favorite son and none desiring to admit him to their circle.  One took notice of Grant, however, in his bedraggled condition, calling out “Here’s a stranger, gentlemen, who looks like he traveled through hell to get here.” Grant’s nod of assent was met with another taunt,  “And what did you find there?”  Grant didn’t even hesitate:  “Just like here, all of the lawyers gathered together in a place where it’s really hot…”

“Ahhh, only in Wayne County can I get this cushy job where all I have to do is babysit the cretins who work for me and to hell with the taxpayers because they are dumb-asses for whom I care not — and as long as we keep that between you and me, my dear, the status quo will rule, and they will reelect me year after year while I take their money, lie to them, and then squash them like a bug!!!!!     Bwahahahahahaha!”

“Think I’ll go golfing now.”

P.S.  “Actually, they keep me pretty busy. Here, see for yourself:”

I have a terrible mouth on me -- not because I cuss, it's because of all the lies that fly out of it...

I have a terrible mouth on me — not because I cuss, it’s all the lies that fly out of it…

"Yeah, but the REAL bald-faced lies come from ME!"

“Yeah, but the REAL bald-faced lies come from ME!”

...and I get to do all the dirty work, defending them from all the trouble they caused...but it's all good, the court's are OUR friend, not YOURS...

…and I have to clean up the messes they make…but it’s all good, the court is OUR friend, not YOURS…

Posted in That Oxymoron Known as the "Justice Court:" How To Practice Law without a License | Leave a comment

What Eight Days of Legal Training Accomplishes

Lots of math here, so pay attention:

The book is apparently for everyone but NYS town and village justices, they have to read the equivalent of only a page or two from it.

The book that is required reading for those practicing law — except for NYS town and village justices.  Their required reading is only a page or two .  (Google Images)

While p. 4 of the 2008 Action Plan Two-Year Update claims that “new non-attorney justices now receive seven weeks of “pre-bench” training, consisting of alternating periods of at-home assignments (a total of five weeks) and classroom training (a total of two weeks),” I could find nothing to prove when or how this is accomplished.  In fact, all I could find were registration papers confirming a 56-hour, 8-day “certification” course offered for the spring of 2013 (recently upgraded from the 6-day session mandated in 2012):

http://www.nytowns.org/sites/default/files/articles/Training%20Information%20for%20Newly%20Elected%20or%20Appointed%20Town%20Justices.pdf

which confirms that, a full 5 years after the Update, non-attorney town and village justices “will receive their certification to assume the bench” after only an 8-day “basic certification course,” upon the completion of which, by law (Section 17.2(a)),

“certification shall be issued which shall be valid until the next available advanced course” [emphasis mine]

which really means nothing, because if His or Her Honor isn’t “available” for the next “advanced course,” attendance can theoretically be postponed until (s)he finds it Honorably Convenient To Become Available since, according to Section 17.2(d) ,

“The Chief Administrator may issue temporary certificates to nonlawyer justices which shall be valid until the time of the next available course.” [again, emphasis mine]

leaving us to wonder what this 7-week “pre-bench” training is and how (and when) it figures into His (and Her) Honorable Edjumication…

Well, there’s little to wonder about in the 8-day certification.  Here the Honorable Wannabe’s are forced to work tirelessly for 7.5 hours a day for 7 whole days, starting at the crack of 8:15 – 8:30 a.m. (assuming a half-hour break for lunch) plus 3.5 hours on Day 8.  But how do these 56 hours translate into “credit hours,” which is how academia measures learning?  For that we look to the American Bar Association,

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/legaled/standards/20072008StandardsWebContent/Chapter_3.authcheckdam.pdf

It's not as difficult as it looks...once you run out of fingers, use a calculator... (Google Images)

It’s not as difficult as it looks…once you run out of fingers, use a calculator… (Google Images)

which mandates that each “credit hour” shall consist of 700 minutes of instruction.  This translates into a minimum of 83 credit hours before one can read and interpret the law according to ABA standards (although most law schools require around 90 credit hours just to graduate)…and none of this includes time spent in home study, homework, writing papers, or taking exams.  Many law schools divide these 83 credit hours into classes of 2 or 3 credit hours each while others use a different formula, but no matter how you cut it up, all the calculations must add up to an 83 credit-hour equivalent of 58,000 minutes.

"Damn, seat belt law!!  I was absent that day!" (Google Images)

“Damn, seat belt law!! I was legally absent those 1.4 days!” (Google Images)

So, 56 hours of attendance divided over 8 days provides Your Honor and Mine with 3360 minutes of edjumication (2688, if one attends only the 80% of the classwork as mandated by law) and results in an equivalent of about 4.8 law school credits.  In ABA parlance, this is akin to attending, say, an introductory course in criminal law (3 credits at Wayne State Law School, a tier 3 school in Detroit that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get into or a lottery winner to pay for) but walking out on another on legal research and writing (2 credits) before taking the final exam.  I don’t know about you, but I am beginning feel a little nauseous.

Home study?

Home study?

Ah, but what about those annual and pesky 12 hours of study required by the OCA?  (This is in the 2006 Action Plan and required by statute, but I couldn’t find much about it in the 2008 Update).  Again, using the ABA model, these 720 minutes per year add the rough equivalent of one (1) single law-school credit hour, except they don’t quite constitute a “credit hour”  They are more like two unrelated half-credit hours (remember? 360 of these minutes can be done from home…).  So, depending upon what topics are chosen for study, it would take anywhere from 3 to 6 years for the annual study mandate to provide the education equivalent of one (1) law school class of 3 credit hours.

judgemickey

Now I wanna remind everyone of The Honorable Rules of the Judicial House of Mouse: No smoking. No villainous schemes. And no guests eating other guests.”

Returning to the Honorable Wayne County Court that started all this, I recall the presiding justice telling me that His Honorable Butt has occupied the bench for 27 years, during which time (I assume) he has been fully compliant with OCA training mandates.  OMG!  No wonder he couldn’t figure out VTL 1229c! Because, if my math is correct, 6 days of initial training — which was all that was required of The Honorable Class of 1986 — plus 12 hours a year times 27 years equals the ABA equivalent of only 31.8 credit hours, which is nowhere near the minimum of 83 required in order to even begin practicing law —  And we don’t know if the OCA counts things that the ABA says they shouldn’t, like test-taking and homework, or if it counts time spent learning such things as where Your Honorably Reserved Parking Space is or how to let yourself into the courthouse without setting off the alarm.  In any event, what 31.8 credit hours gets you is, inter alia and with the blessing of the State of New York, The Honorable I’m-Not-Telling-You-His-Name-For-Obvious-Reasons, who began his unlicensed practice of law with the equivalent of a course-and-a-half of undergraduate legal training and who is now approaching retirement without even half of the education one would expect from a brand-new, greenhorn attorney just out of law school…<shaking head in disbelief and running, not walking, to the county appeals court>

Epic-FailureSo, what if the OCA stumbles upon this site, becomes duly enraged thereby, and knocks over the big pile of papers on their desk (which in turn spills their coffee) in their haste to send me a letter, by certified and regular mail,  threatening The Wrath of Their Smarmy Attorney (or Deputy Sheriff Br***s), unless I inform John Q Public forthwith that His (and Her) Non-Attorney Honors aren’t let loose upon the unsuspecting public until they have accumulated a full 7 weeks of edjumication?  Well, they can avoid all that spilt-coffee mess because I will beat them to it and tell you right now that, calculated on five 7.5 hour days per week x 7 weeks, this represents the equivalent of only 22.5 credit hours — certainly an improvement over 4.8 but still epic fail…why? because it is just about what a law student learns in not quite 1.5 semesters of coursework, the completion of which qualifies said student to be only a first-year law student and not a judge.  Besides, there is nothing “pre-bench” about training that by mandate (last 2 sentences of Section 17.2(a), below) occurs after the “certificate to assume the bench” is issued and filed, which we all know by now takes only 8 days to accomplish.  And, let’s not forget that after 27 years of following OCA mandates, These Honors, too, would approach retirement without ever having acquired the legal knowledge they should have (but never) started out with– they would, in fact, end their Honorable Careers with only 50.2% of a basic law-school education…half of what the ABA feels is necessary just to begin practicing law…I’m feeling pretty sick to my stomach right now, how ’bout you?

But wait, there’s more:

Who needs one of these when you have 1277 town and justice courts... (Google Images)

Who needs one of these when you have 1277 town and village justice courts… (Google Images)

Take the number of traffic (and other) “infractions” that His Edjumicated Honor judged as ineptly as he did mine and add up The Not-So-Honorable Fines appended thereto.  I predict the annual sum total will be large enough to make the treasurer of this rural lakeside community hope that more short people travel through it more often.  Factor in the mandatory state surcharges generated thereby, and you will understand why Albany, too,  smiles upon this Wayne County court, while those of us who have experienced the “integrity” preserved within Its Honorable Halls and Side Room are still shuddering.  Then, I double-dog dare you to add that number to the revenue generated by 72% of the approximately 1276 other town and village courts in this state, whose presiding justices have similar training, and I promise you that the significant dollar amounts haphazardly produced thereby will impress your friends, confound your enemies, astonish all skeptics, and forever condemn any meaningful Action Plan reform, thus guaranteeing that We the People will continue to pay many times over for the (in)justice handed out by these “courts closest to the people”ad infinitum

Oooooo, I really don’t feel well.  I  better go lie down for a while…Tums, anyone?

Posted in That Oxymoron Known as the "Justice Court:" How To Practice Law without a License | Leave a comment

Section 17.2, Rules of the Chief Judge, In All Its Vague and Nebulous Glory

Did you think I was making all of this up?  Nope, it’s encased in law, which you can read for yourself right here, free of charge.   Section 17.2(a) evidently refers to the 8-day certification (although The Honorable Wannabes don’t have to attend all 8 days, they can quit after 6.6 of ‘em), and Section 17.2(b) appears to verify the 12-hour annual training suggested in the Action Plan (2006), but I don’t see anything herein mandating or even supporting the “pre-bench” 7-week Update reforms, do you?

Unless it’s covered in the last 2 sentences of 17.2(a)…which would make it on-the-job training and not “pre-bench…”

Picky, picky, picky…

…here, read it yourself and tell me what YOU think…

Section 17.2 Training and education of town and village justices.

Training programs, under the auspices of the Chief Administrator of the Courts, shall be conducted for town and village justices at least three times per year at various locations in the State, in the following manner:

(a) The training programs shall consist of a basic and an advanced course. All newly selected justices, who are not members of the Bar of this State, shall attend the first available basic course after their selection. Upon successful completion of such basic course, certification shall be issued which shall be valid until the next available advanced course. The aforesaid justices shall then be required to successfully complete such advanced course and thereupon shall receive a certificate of completion.

(b) Every incumbent nonlawyer justice heretofore certified or certified pursuant to this section, shall be required to successfully complete an advanced course of training once in each calendar year thereafter while holding office in order to maintain certification.

(c) Successful completion of a training program, as herein provided, shall mean attendance at no less than 80 percent of the sessions thereof and a passing grade on a written examination in such course as established by the Chief Administrator.

(d) The Chief Administrator may issue temporary certificates to nonlawyer justices which shall be valid until the time of the next available course.

(e) Each newly elected or appointed justice who is a member of the Bar of this State shall attend the first available advanced course of training after his or her election or appointment. Each such justice shall attend an advanced course of training each calendar year thereafter while holding office. Attendance at an advanced course shall mean attendance at no less than 80 percent of the sessions thereof. The Chief Administrator shall issue appropriate certificates of attendance.

Posted in That Oxymoron Known as the "Justice Court:" How To Practice Law without a License | Leave a comment

MPD Officer Cited for Getting Squad Car Stuck on Utility Pole

A Warning to Deputy Sheriff Ay***e!
This could happen to you!

(But only after they run electricity out to the barren wasteland that is Sodus, NY, ‘cuz you’re gonna need a utility pole…)

Good thing he was wearing his seat belt!! (Courtesy wmctv.com, http://www.wmctv.com/story/22122549/vertical-police-cruiser-photo-explained

See?  Seat belts DO save lives! (Courtesy wmctv.com, http://www.wmctv.com/story/22122549/vertical-police-cruiser-photo-explained

You might wanna think twice before you turn off your headlights, forget your hat, tie, and name badge, and refuse to identify yourself when you stop a short old lady for not wearing her seat belt and then, when confronted with a lawful NY VTL 1229c-7 exemption, running her license and registration twice and, after it returned squeaky clean (twice) attempting to issue her a ticket for:

  1. Speeding (while making a left-hand turn from a stopped position in the middle of the road)
  2. “Almost running into that car!” (notwithstanding that, being in said stopped position in the middle of the road and “that car” having run a red light, it was actually in danger of running into me)
  3. “Violating the white line” on the side of the road (while making a left-hand turn from a stopped position in the middle of the road)

and when all that didn’t work, demanding to know

  1. “Where have you been at 7:00 in the morning?” (“at the bank machine making a withdrawal,” “how much did you take out?” “$120.00.”  “show me,” upon presentation of which bills he then counted in front of me to make sure I wasn’t lying…)
  2. “Have you been drinking???”  (uh, yeah, but I don’t think Diet Coke counts, you do?”)

Unfortunately, this is what can happen when egotistical cops over-enforce the seat belt law:

What happens when egotistical cops over-enforce the seat belt law...

What can happen when egotistical cops over-enforce the seat belt law…

And this is what happens when John Q Public tries to take a picture of it:

What happens when someone takes a picture of it (Google Images)

What happens when John Q Public tries to take a picture of it (Google Images)

I swear I had nothing to do with this, nothing at all! But I’m soooooooooooooo laughing:

How many dumb-ass cops does it take to rescue another dumb-ass cop from his own stupidity...

Question:  How many dumb-ass cops does it take to rescue another dumb-ass cop from his own stupidity…Answer:  As many as you can cram into 4 squad cars and an unmarked cruiser…WITH their ticket books, of course! (Courtesy News 4 NBC in Memphis, TN and Google Images)

MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) – A Memphis police officer was issued two citations after he lost control of his squad car and got stuck on a utility pole Monday night.

The accident occurred at Whitehaven Lane and Elvis Presley Blvd just after 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 30.

According to the officer involved, 28-year-old Jonathan Bond, he was headed southbound on Elvis Presley when he saw a driver pass him not wearing a seat belt. Bond said he tried to turn around to pull the vehicle over, but lost control and hit the curb and guide wire on a utility pole, which caused his squad car to run up the pole and come to a rest vertically. Nobody was injured.

Officer Bond was issued a citation for failure to maintain proper control of his vehicle, and for hitting the utility pole.

Here’s the entire article, complete with video…I’m guessing Shelby County is Tennesee’s equivalent of Wayne County…y’think?

MPD Officer Cited for Getting Squad Car Stuck on Utility Pole.

But you gotta luv the Memphis police who, when finding themselves with a handful of lemons, learn very quickly how to make lemonade (this according to wreg.com, Memphis, TN):

While some of you are asking how something like it could happen, others were asking why police spent time writing tickets to passersby who stopped to take photos.

Police would only tell News Channel 3 officers write tickets when drivers slow traffic…

(huh, like 4 squad cars and an unmarked chaser parked around a cruiser up-ended on a light pole aren’t going to cause a little “slow traffic” themselves…)

Seat Belt Police, Wayne County Style

Maybe someday both Officer Bond and Deputy Ay***e can join this, the Wayne County Task Force on Seat Belt and Litter Law Enforcement (Courtesy Pierre Nasman, Deputy Sheriff Br***s, and Google Images)  Direct all applications to Lead Enforcer, Wayne County Deputy Sheriff St****n Br***s.  Be sure your resume includes all the details of your many heroic attempts to “protect and serve” the law-abiding citizenry from the horrors of short people driving through their neighborhoods and how you follow up by harassing old ladies by “investigating” bogus “littering” complaints that are alleged, whoda thunk it, on the same day a certain court official was contacted by the State regarding a pending complaint…

Posted in Bogus Seat Belt Stops + DumbAss Cops = Not Always the Result You Intended | Leave a comment

NY DMV Form C-58: Not a Law (and withdrawn besides)

What follows is an assessment written by a non-attorney citizen-taxpayer of how DMV Form C-58 related to a series of personal events.  It is not legal advice and should not be construed as such.   For a legal opinion on seat belt law and/or DMV Form C-58, please consult an attorney of your choice and/or the Legal Department of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. That’s what I did.
Section 3 and Section 7 below are quoted from NY VTL 1229c.  All other citations are from correspondence dated October 18, 2012, addressed to me by Dinah M. Crossway, Esq, Assistant Counsel for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.  All images courtesy Google Images.  Any similarities to any person, living or dead, or to any event occurring since the beginning of the world up to and including this present moment is unintended, could not have been reasonably predicted, and has nothing to do with YOU.  So, don’t threaten me with your smarmy attorney, okay, or with Deputy Sheriff Br—s (because that bogus littering thing didn’t work the first time he tried it and chances are it won’t work now, either).

New York’s seat belt law, Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) Section 1229-c is a “plain language” law.  It contains no esoteric legal jargon that might cloud its meaning or intent.  Therefore, one need not be a rocket scientist (or an attorney) to understand that subsection 3 requires motor vehicle operators (and front-seat passengers over the age of 15) to wear a seat belt:

No person shall operate a motor vehicle unless such person is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner. No person sixteen years of age or over shall be a passenger in the front seat of a motor vehicle unless such person is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner.

and that subsection 7 provides an exemption to subsection 3 under certain conditions:

The provisions of this section shall not apply to a passenger or operator with a physically disabling condition whose physical disability would prevent appropriate restraint in such safety seat or safety belt provided, however, such condition is duly certified by a physician who shall state the nature of the handicap, as well as the reason such restraint is inappropriate.

Seat belts should go around your shoulder, not your neck.

Seat belts should go around your shoulder, not your neck — unless you like living with the sequelae of a C2 fracture which, if it doesn’t kill you, will leave you quadriplegic and breathing through a machine connected to you by a tube stuck in a hole in your throat.

What this means to me, who is neither a rocket scientist nor an attorney but who nonetheless possesses a reasonable degree of cerebral function, is that if you are diagnosed with a medical condition that prevents you from safely wearing a seat belt, subsection 3 does not apply to you as long as your doctor certifies it by writing it down.   Thereafter, you can drive a car (or ride in one) in the great state of New York, including but not limited to the corner of Slocum and Ridge in beautiful downtown Wayne County, without worrying about subsection 3.

So, how does DMV Form C-58 figure into (and mess up) this otherwise happy scenario?  The short answer is, it doesn’t.  The long answer appears below:

When are they going to update this brocher?  It still references Form C-58, a full 8 months following its demise.

When are they going to update this brochure? It still references Form C-58, a full 8 months following its demise.

The State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the agency ultimately responsible for managing the motor vehicle laws in the state, including this one.  As such, they figured doctors might need help with these subsection 7 exemptions, so they came up with form C-58 “…as an aid to physicians in making their determinations in issuing certifications regarding physically disabling conditions that prevent an individual’s appropriate restraint…”  No “plain language” there!  What that means is, form C-58 was supposed to guide doctors in deciding whether (and how) to issue certifications pursuant to subsection 7.  So, it contains lots of cool suggestions, like how to handle temporary medical conditions (maybe a 6-month review would help) or how to tell when short stature might interfere with appropriate seat belt use (patients who are 5’ tall or less and complain of discomfort from ill-fitting seat belts might be at risk), and other handy hints, including options that might make certifications unnecessary.

What happens when seat belts DON'T save lives and you end up with a C2 fracture instead....

What happens when seat belts DON’T save lives and you end up with a C2 fracture instead….

There is a slight problem, though.  “The C-58 form is neither a statute nor a regulation, and it does not have the force of law.”  This makes it rather useless, because “…it is not binding (since it does not have the force of law) upon physicians, law enforcement, or the judiciary.”  Furthermore, “…in a cause in which an individual is charged with a VTL section 1229-c violation and raises a medical exemption defense, it is ultimately for the court to determine whether the statutory exemption applies (i.e., whether the individual has a physically disabling condition as described in VTL section 1229-c(7), as well as the required physician’s certification.”

..and they all congregate at a certain town court building in Wayne County...

..and I met a few of them hanging out at a certain civic hall somewhere…

Translated into you-and-me language, this means that if your doctor diagnoses you with a medical condition that interferes with safe use of a seat belt, certifies same in writing along with the reasons therefore, and you actually have the condition your doctor says you have,  YOU are exempt from wearing a seat belt, regardless of any C-58 suggestions and/or what anybody tells you.  So, if Officer Friendly tries to meet some kind of ticket quota by dragging your ass to court on a VTL 1229c-3 violation, all you have to do is comply with subsection 7.  That means your doctor has 1) signed a certification that states 2) the medical condition (“handicap”) you have and 3) the reason(s) why said condition makes seat belt use inappropriate.  The certification is not required to predate Officer Friendly’s ticket.  It is not required to match the date on Officer Friendly’s ticket.  In fact, it is not required to be dated at all!  The certification is not required to be written on prescription paper or even letterhead.  You are not required to carry it with you at all times or even at any time.  You are not required to present it to Officer Friendly upon demand.  But you are required to present it to the court, if that is where you end up, because the court must examine it to “determine whether the statutory exemption applies.”  And it is legally bound to accept the certification as a valid affirmative defense as long as it is 1) signed by a physician, 2) you have the medical condition it says you have, and 3) it identifies the medical condition and the reasons why it renders seat belt use inappropriate.  Period.  That’s all, folks.  Nothing more and nothing less.  Anything else is statutorily irrelevant hogwash.

If I had only seen the sign BEFORE I entered the courthouse...!

If I had only seen the sign BEFORE I entered the courthouse…!

Unfortunately, it’s the hogwash that turns the “slight problem” of form C-58 into a nightmare, because none of it is specified in subsection 7, which is in fact the sole “force of law” upon which the court must “determine whether the statutory exemption applies.”  However, all of it is suggested in (but not mandated by) form C-58, which is a set of nonbinding guidelines for physicians that has nothing to do with either the price of beans or your court case because it “does not have the force of law.”  So, neither you nor I have any reason to seek out form C-58 or comply with it, in part or in full, even though compliance may or may not spare you (it didn’t spare me, just sayin’) the inconvenience of appearing before His Dumb-Ass Honor and his Tree-Trunk-Legged Prosecutor, both of whom (IMHO and as a direct result of their own behavior and/or physique) earned these sobriquets by acting in utter ignorance of the “force of law” and instead thought it might be a good idea to “determine whether the statutory exemption applies” by inventing rogue law of their own.  Their wrongful actions, whether they knew it or not, relied wholly upon the nonbinding suggestions found in form C-58 (which were bolstered post-verdict by His Honorable But Ludicrous Manipulation of subsection 5, but that’s a story best left alone…).  In such cases, both you and I have every right to appeal the bogus conviction resulting therefrom, which I did once I re-read NY VTL 1229C (and got my next car insurance bill, because it was nearly twice as high as it was before and will remain so for the next 5 years).  Be advised, though, that in so doing someone named “Rick” (whoever THAT is) will make sure you are the laughing stock of both the appeals court and the sheriffs you hire to serve your papers upon said court, not to mention the entire district attorney’s office, which gets real cranky when they have to reassign a couple of assistants from more important tasks to defend their colleague, who lied about the evidence in a measly little seat belt case,  as well as the judge, who not only based the guilty verdict upon the nonissue created thereby but also invented “applicable law” to support it and then compounded these errors by ordering the defendant pro se from the courtroom (to be “measured”) so he could meet with the prosecutor ex parte to discuss strategy.

"It's a jungle out there...but you'll thank me later (like, when you need a subsection 7 defense).

“It’s a jungle out there…but you’ll thank me later (like, when you need a subsection 7 defense).

Actually, no one but me (see below) has to worry about DMV form C-58 anymore because its nonbinding suggestions no longer conflict with the statutory requirements of subsection 7. That’s because once I contacted the DMV and told them how This Honorable(?) Court had trumped subsection 7 with its ignorant misuse of form C-58,  the form was withdrawn:   “As a result of your letter, the C-58 is being reviewed and possible revisions of the form to improve its clarity and accuracy [are] being considered.”  Which means that it is no longer available.  You can read about it in the safety brochure the DMV hands out to people renewing their driver’s license, but you won’t ever see it.  You can’t download it from the Internet.  You can’t even get a copy if you go to the DMV yourself and demand one (in fact, if you refuse to leave until they give you a copy, you’ll probably just end up discussing the matter with Officer Friendly, and I can’t think of anyone who wants to do that).  For all intents and purposes, DMV form C-58 is dead and can never interfere with a valid subsection 7 affirmative defense again! (see? I told you you’d thank me later!)…

…unless, of course, you are me, in which case you discover that, modified by a little creative and self-serving rephrasing, the ADA who was finally assigned to your appeal continues to rely upon all that form C-58 hogwash in his Memorandum of Law.   One can only hope that the appeals court judge is smart enough, when making his decision, to ignore it in favor of the statutorily relevant facts presented to him, including those raised in the appellant’s Memorandum, even though she IS pro se…

A fitting end for C-58

A fitting end for NY DMV Form C-58

judge

“This is criminal court! You’re a criminal now!”

P.S.  I also told the DMV about all that judicial rolled-up paper-shaking and epithet-bellowing (see “Wayne County and the Justice Court — Not Always a Good Combination” here on this blog) and was offered this reassuring response: “I would take this opportunity to note that a violation of VTL section 1229-c is not a crime…” So, don’t believe His Dumb-Ass Honor when he tells you it is.

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A judge in Wayne County WITH a brain? Yes, folks, there is ONE! And I found him!

BrainLegal

NOT!!!!

Well, either that or hell froze over last Thursday. . .but if that happened Channel 8 would’ve sent out a truck and reported it live, and if they did I missed it all.  So, we really have no other choice but to assume that there IS a judge in Wayne County with a hefty dose of viable cerebrum.  And he used it in deciding my appeal, when he said “The People [represented by a prosecutor with legs like tree trunks] failed to meet their burden so as to sufficiently support a conviction” because:

The People’s sole witness, none other than Officer Friendly himself, knew the defendant had a medical exemption from seat belt use because he had examined it not more than a year ago when he had stopped her for the same “violation,”

and

The Defendant had provided the trial court with proof of the exemption a full 4 months prior to trial, a fact conveniently verified by the trial court when it submitted date-stamped copies to the appeals court,

and

The People refuted absolutely none of the Defendant’s testimony, including but not limited to the fact that she did indeed have a lawful exemption and had had it since about 2009,

So,

Since the appeals court judge realized, after examining all available evidence (as well as a couple of legal memoranda written by the defendant pro se) that the Defendant had fully complied with the *real* law and, since there is no way she is bound by any of the spurious rogue law invented by the trial court, the ticket is dismissed by order of the appeals court.

small matersIt is not a little disappointing to find that the appeals court judge, though fully equipped with brains, evidently missed out on his allotment of guts, which is probably why he did not acknowledge any of the shenanigans that The Less-Than-Honorable Dynamic Duo tried to pass off as “law” (such as lying about evidence, concocting some sort of ludicrous and totally illicit “height requirement,” and then meeting ex parte to discuss their strategy).  However, I do take comfort in knowing that no less than THREE (3) prosecutors — well, 4 if you count the bald one whom I had the pleasure of seriously berating during an almost hour-long phone call (wherein he grudgingly admitted the fact of the ex parte meeting) — wasted their individual and collective efforts (albeit minimal) in defending this case, and they all lost to ME, a short, round, opinionated, pro se grandmother whose only prior legal knowledge came from watching Perry Mason reruns on News Channel 10 — that plus a ten-minute read of NY VTL 1229c and an innate Italian temper provided the perfect storm that brought all those high-falutin’ prosecutors down. . .

"Oh you fancy, huh, you fancy, huh, you fancy, huh..." Lyrics by Drake, Image Vol 1 #14 March 1940.

“Oh you fancy, huh, you fancy, huh, you fancy, huh…” Lyrics by Drake, Image Vol 1 #14 March 1950.

I didn’t prevail because the judge sided with me.  I prevailed because he sided with the law, and I wrote a memorandum or two that proved how the law was broken rather than upheld by the trial court, whereas 3 (maybe 4) egotistical tax-supported lawyers couldn’t be bothered to waste either their brains or their time by reading my memorandums and replying in kind.  Instead, they sat down the day before theirs was due and scribbled out 4 or 5 pages of self-serving, irrelevant crap that evaded the questions of law and instead begged for the mercy they truly expected to receive.  But they were busted!  The ten minutes they spent writing their “memorandum” was all for naught, since the Goliath created by their expensive law school training and bolstered by their impressive onsite legal library was no match for David, whose slingshot was loaded simply with NY VTL 1229c-7.   In fact, not even one of the jokes “Rick” cracked with “Barry” or with the judge over lunch did any good at all. . .damn!  It’s enough to make you slam the door of your luxury car (paid for by taxpayers like you and me) and mutter cuss words all the way from Lyons to your gracious home in Newark, or Fairport, or perhaps Shortsville, and maybe even yell at the dog when you get there, no?

croppedduhAnyway, now the case is in OUR court, the court of public opinion, and WE get to be the judge!  So, what do you think — has the Rather Dishonorable Justice I’m-Not-Telling-You-His-Name, with his 6 whole days of edjumication and 27 years of butt-sitting the judicial bench, adequately fulfilled the role of Dumb-Ass?  I think you know my answer, but I’d like to know yours.

Well, if you just can’t decide until you know his name (and that of his lying, tree-trunk-legged prosecutor), I really wish I could help you, but I can’t.  You see, the fine deputy sheriffs of this county have spent the past year perfecting the art of harassment, and they have only recently quit looking for my car so they can stop me on some pretense or other, even though they never find cause to write a ticket.  Nor do I look forward to another personal encounter with any one of them, especially Deputy Sheriff St***n Br***s, who (IMHO) is nothing a two-bit bully who proves that you *can* get a job, even if you do graduate at the very bottom of your class.  However, you can always read their names in the decision, which is now public and available to anyone who searches the judicial records of the State of New York.  You can do this for free if you have a computer (hint:  use the date of August 15, 2012 when searching the justice court records and July 25, 2013 if you look in the records of the Wayne County Court of Appeals), or you can ask your local librarian to help you find it.

"What?? There's a '97 Saturn? With a short person driving it??? Where, Chief? OK, we're on the case!" "Let's go, boys! Corner of Slocum and Ridge --We gotta get her before she hits the Monroe County line!"

“What?? There’s a ’97 Saturn? With a short person driving it??? Where, Chief? OK, we’re on the case!” “Let’s go, boys! Corner of Slocum and Ridge –We gotta get her before she hits the Monroe County line!”

Or, better yet, drive around a certain Wayne County lakeside town a few times without wearing your seat belt, and I am pretty sure you will meet them all in person, beginning with Officer Friendly himself, who will politely escort you to The Honorable Hall-(and-Side-Room)-of-Justice, where you will be personally introduced to His Dumb-Ass Honor, Miss Tree-Trunk Legs, and a very kind but utterly clumsy bailiff.

So, if you choose this route, do drop me a note and let me know if they have learned any lessons about NY VTL 1229c, especially subsections 5 and 7. . .but, whatever you do, decline that invitation to visit The Honorable Side Room — in fact, don’t go near it, even if the court orders you to do so!

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