Over the years I have seen multiple attempts at pro se defenses. Beyond case specifics the one thing I’ve seen get most acting on their own behalf is the “Ah-ha!” moment. The defendant thinks they have that one thing to trip up the officer and then he falls right into their trap. “Ah-ha!” But then since the officer has done this over and over and has heard that particular Ah-ha moment he has the explaination at the ready. When the Ah-ha moment doesn’t work everything else falls apart.
If this officer or department often conducts speed enforcement on that roadway there is a pretty good chance he will already have a well thought out argument for the reasonableness of the posted speed limit. After all they know Texas law too. Do not be surprised by the fact that he will have a counter argument.
I guess I still need to find out about the jury. As I recall from a conversation from someone who sat on one the six of them sit and hear however many cases come through that day. I I’ll have to look deeper into that as well.
I wasn’t really betting on an ah-ha moment so much as inducing doubt and hoping for the best. Maybe demonstrating through evidence that a reasonable speed was, say, 65 or 70 so I’m 7 or 13 over instead of 17. Not an insignificant amount considering anything over 13 is a bigger hit on my cdl, not that I really use it that much.
They paced me on my bike last year and I asked for calibration reports. They use the GPS speed on their dash unit apparently, I managed to plea down on that one.
I do like inigo’s percentage argument though, that might help quite a bit.
There’s also a chance that he gets a jury who is collectively pissed off that they had to take the day off work and come in for some guy who wants to fight a speeding ticket, and a judge who’s not happy that the defendant already got one continuance by demanding a jury trial and is now debating whether speeding a lot is the same as speeding a little, and whether a speed gun that’s used every day can be so badly miscalibrated that it could possibly make a difference.
You might also find out what’s the worst an unhappy judge can do to you if you lose, and what’s the best a real lawyer can get the charges knocked down to.
You may very well be able to plead down the charge to a much lower offense without going to trial.
Think long and hard about how you are going to present evidence. Like I said before you are not allowed to testify in your role as a lawyer. I’ve seem many pro se cases where the defendant thinks he can stand there and introduce evidence and present theories during closing. The judge shuts that down right away. You will either have to find a way to get the evidence in with a called witness or you will have to testify which opens you up to cross examination.
You are wrong about the equipment. There are some arguments that are black and white. If that piece of equipment is required by the state to be calibrated periodically then it needs to be calibrated. If the officer is required by the state to be certified in operation of that equipment then they need to show that certification. If the machine is not calibrated or the officer is not certified the reading from the equipment will be thrown out before it even gets to the jury. The OP needs to know what those requirements are before the trial and needs to request discovery pertaining to those records.
I’m hoping they’ll want to deal when it gets a little closer but I still have to prepare for if they won’t. As far as introducing points concerning the LIDAR and procedure I’m hoping it will come out as I question the citing officer about his procedure, knowledge of equipment ect. Since he’ll probably be the only one i call up. His last class in radar was a month prior so that will be a hard sell. I don’t know how often the state or department requires calibration or even how to find out but I’d like to get some evidence introduced to have at least some leverage if they want to deal.
Update: LIDAR is an Ultra Lyte LR B, L20, with certificates of calibration dated 02-29-12 and 1-31-17. Ticket was issued 4-30-18 with complaint made under TRC 545.356.
Michigan is a prima facie state, too, on the freeways (we have absolute limits on surface streets). My last ticket (2002 or so) was dismissed because I used the prima facie defense: my speed was reasonable at that time of night, and I wasn’t endangering myself or others.
I had to pay court fees that were coincidentally the same price as the ticket would have been. The ticket proceeds would have to have been shared with the state, but as far as I know, court costs stay within that particular city.
Which county/city in Texas, were you ticketed in? Did you request a “jury” hearing? If not, I’d expect that your case will be heard by a judge alone. Most judges, especially in Texas, have a high regard for law enforcement officers. As I said previously, if the citing officer shows up for your case, then the odds are overwhelmingly NOT in your favor. But you’ll learn a bit about the justice system, waiting and hearing the other cases while yours is coming up. Be prepared to spend several hours at the court house, waiting.
IANAL. Though I do live in Texas, and know quite a few TX attorneys. Anyway…
I don’t know the exact area you got popped, but there are quite a few spots that fit the description. Houston is under this dynamic, and I think parts of DFW are too. The 60 MPH speed limit is due to EPA air quality regs concerning the counties around the municipality, and has very little to do with safety. Which is why you’ll see the speed limit rise, at the same time the number of lanes are fewer, and the road quality lessens. I feel your pain, and I see people do 77 in a 60 every day around me. In fact, they’re probably driving closer to that than 60. (Just drive SH 249 or 225, though I think 225 may be 65 in spots. Guess they figure the air quality can’t get any worse from driving than what a dozen petrochemical plants do)
Get a traffic attorney local to that jurisdiction. It’s a business transaction for them. They’re in court, know the judges/assistant state’s attorneys, and are best able to predict what the likely penalty for you will be, given your set of facts, and tolerance for going to court. They’re also more likely to get a favorable deal, IME, than you will.
If you insist on doing this yourself, expect to be on the receiving end of a few continuance requests if you demand a jury trial. IOW, it won’t be a single time you’ll have to take off work, it’ll be a few times. Expect also to receive more punishment if you lose, including court costs etc…, should you go this route.
As to the required foundation for admitting something into evidence, or for effectively conducting voir dire, entire law school courses (like Trial Advocacy) go into performing those tasks. AIUI, pro se defendants are often cut some slack, but it’s not going to be trivial to learn this. How much is your time worth?
EDIT: Given your prior posts about being paced, I guess just taking Defensive Driving is out? Which is what I did, the last time I got a ticket for going 15 ish over.
I don’t know how it works in TX, but in NJ you would stand to lose a lot. In NJ the fine imposed by a judge in court can be (and typically is) a lot higher than the amount that you would pay upfront, and plus you get charged court costs.
I dug through the hype a little bit and they love their hype. Currently researching and seeing if I can suppress the calibrations records, they don’t seem to indicate any particular standard or procedure the cal was tested to.
Deferred and defensive driving courses aren’t available to CDL holders regardless of what kind of vehicle you get stopped in.
Both the state and city mention on their own websites that speed limits are set at the 85th percentile of the most recent speed survey. They also detail that if they were to set lower than that they would be pulling over way to many “reasonable drivers”.
I was offered the choice to have either the judge or the jury be the fine setter at the future court date. Even with court costs losing will be less expensive than any lawyer I’ve talked to so it feels worth the dice roll.
Are those your only options? I know in NY & NJ, you also have the option (unless it’s a very major ticket, e.g. DUI) to not show up in court altogether, and just plead guilty by mail (or online). In NJ at least, that’s the cheapest option. So if, for example, the schedule of fines on the back of the ticket says that your violation costs $85, that only applies if you send it in by mail or pay online. If you show up in court and are found guilty, then you’re likely to pay some higher fine, e.g. $160 plus another $35 for court costs.
In NJ you can typically plead down to a lower violation (if one is available) but generally this will involve lower points on your license for a higher fine (since, among other things) this too will involve the judge setting a higher fine plus court costs.
But again, this is NJ and perhaps TX is different. (There are certainly no jury traffic trials here.) If you have to show up in court anyway, then I would think you may as well fight it. It sounds from what you’re saying now that you need to show up, with or without a lawyer.
I don’t feel I was doing anything particularly wrong. Just traveling along, minding my own business, not necessarily breaking the law, when I’m spotted by the local tax collecto… I mean traffic unit.
Really though. I don’t HAVE to show up. I don’t have many points on my license or anything else against my cdl. I could pay the couple hundred bucks plus probably a small hike in insurance. Thing is though, since deferred or driving courses aren’t available to me or really any other option than just paying what’s assessed, even if the cost doubles if I fail then it’s still worth fighting to me even if it’s only for the oportunity to negotiate a better deal.
You have a CDL? Quit screwing around and hire an attorney. Seriously. A good one may get the ticket changed to a non-moving violation or something else that won’t impede your employment. What is your employer going to think if you end up losing on this ticket, and, even worse, if you potentially end up talking yourself at trial into another worse offense? EDIT: How many points on your CDL can you have before your employer gets nasty about it?
With this much to lose, it seems foolish to me to try and do this pro se. I’d hire counsel.
Sorry to hear about the ticket. I too wanted to get out of Amarillo as fast as possible when I drove through there.
That “not necessarily breaking the law” quote after you flat out admitted to breaking the law in your OP made me laugh out loud. For that, I’ll give you one piece of good advice.
A man who represents himself in court when anything important is on the line is a fucking idiot who will almost certainly lose. Either pay the fine or pay a real life lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction to fight or negotiate it. Your choice.
Your problem isn’t going to be to convince the jury that you believed the speed you were going was safe for the circumstances, it is going to be convince the jury that the police officer felt that the speed you were going was safe for the circumstances. That is what the law says. If the law was that exceeding the speed limit was OK as long as the driver thought it was safe, it would be rather difficult to ever obtain a conviction.
Pay the ticket. Your plan is just going to cost you more, although you will (hopefully) gain knowledge of the system. I say “hopefully” because as long as you consider the law enforcement as a “tax collector”, I wonder if you understand the system. Yes, traffic tickets generate revenue, but is probably a wash for the municipality.
That is, their motivation is more likely to be to reduce the complaints of bozos blazing through at 77 in a 60. While you might feel you have a right to drive at whatever speed you want to on the highway, the people who show up for jury duty are more likely to feel that you have a responsibility to obey the law.