Written by Gregory Monte.
Defending yourself (pro se) in traffic court can be a “trying” experience.
First of all, you are pitting yourself against a prosecutor who represents the state for a living. Not only does he know all the ins and outs of the law, but he is also very familiar with court procedures. He probably even knows the judge on a personal level because he interacts with him every day.
All that is bad enough, but you may also find that the judge presiding over your case is somewhat hostile because she thinks you are “wasting the court’s time” with a useless attempt to defend a silly traffic ticket.
This was my basic experience in court a couple of months ago, and I blogged about it way back then:
The Case That Inspired This Post
I was inspired to write about this topic after I read a New Jersey case decided back in 2011 – State v. CHUCTA, NJ: Appellate Div. The defendant, Daniel Chucta, felt that he had been incorrectly issued a ticket for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle – N.J.S.A. 39:4-92(a). When he showed up in municipal court to defend himself, the judge was not too accommodating (to say the least).
“Defendant’s direct examination of [Officer] Condarelli was marked by frequent objections by the prosecutor and considerable impatience on the part of the judge, who was of the view that defendant should not have represented himself in the proceeding.”
You can read the full details of the case if you want, but I will give you a short summary of what eventually happened. Chucta lost in Municipal Court, appealed, lost again in the Superior Court Law Division, appealed again, and finally won at the Appellate Division level. This whole process took almost 2 ½ years.
The “Traffic Ticket Nazis”
Most individuals will not go through this much effort to fight a traffic ticket. Instead, they will decide to simply pay the fine and go on with their lives. I have no argument with these types of people unless they are what I call “Traffic Ticket Nazis” who want to judge me for setting up a blog to help people fight unfair traffic tickets.
These types of people recite platitudes like, “you do the crime, you pay the fine,” but I don’t quite see the situation in the exact same light.
You can read more about my opinion on these “Nazis” if you are interested:
Why I Challenge All Tickets
In any case, I am not the kind of person who will just pay a ticket and move on with my life. In fact, ever since my son received a stop sign ticket last year, I have dedicated a large portion of my time researching and publishing information on how to fight unfair tickets. I realized early on that, because judges in lower courts overwhelmingly believe the police officer rather than the defendant, the only way to win is to find a technicality in the law that a higher court will eventually have to accept.
If you want to know how my son beat his ticket, check out my two free PDFs which outline his strategy. They are geared specifically to Pennsylvania, but the method has basic application to all states.