Photo Enforcement P10: JUSTICE!
Sorry for the delayed update, but I thought this was over, and then it wasn’t, and now it is, so we can move on.Â For all the bravado that I exuded in these posts and my various personal retelling of this drama, I have to admit, I was shaking like a leaf when I got to court.Â I drove up early and drove back through the Photo Enforcement Trap a couple of times to record how difficult it is to see them.Â Then I checked in at the court house, and walked right in with my tri-pod and my video camera.Â I started to set things up and a court clerk said that the judge would have to give approval before I could record the proceedings.
She came back and said the judge did not want me recording, but that I could buy a DVD of the proceedings.Â I decided to leave the camera set up in the corner but not have it recording.Â When the prosecutor came in he said, “Whoa!Â If I would have known that I was going to be on TV today I would have worn a jacket.”Â Shortly after he left the room, two officers came in and asked me to remove my camera and my bag from the court room and secure it in my vehicle.Â Then they asked to see my identification.Â I gave them my license and asked why they needed it.Â They said they wanted to make sure that I wasn’t a terrorist.Â thanks, not a terrorist!
There was somebody else there in court and the prosecutor cut a deal with him and then offered the same one to me.Â When I introduced myself he said, “You’ve caused quite the stir around here.”Â I thanked him and then told him I was probably not interested in the deal, but I was curious as to what it was.Â He offered to take $20 off my ticket and charge me with “Wasting a finite resource” so that I wouldn’t have any points on my license.Â I refused the deal and we started the hearing.
I have never been in court before, so here’s how it works.Â The prosecutor lays out all of their evidence against the defendant and the numbered photos and documents get filed with the judge.Â Then the defendant asks questions of the prosecutor and the witnesses and then presents their own evidence.Â The prosecutor asks their questions of the defendant and then both parties make a closing statement.
Here are the highlights… He asked for a continuance so that they could address the issues of my subpoena,Â I refused to comply stating that I have already traveled up to Payson twice to appear in court and wanted it over with.Â Then he laid out all the evidence, (photos from Redflex, calibration records, etc.).Â I stood and asked if the the person who signed the complaint against me was going to testify against me and was told that she wasn’t coming.Â I then said that I objected to all of the evidence asking that it be thrown out as heresay because it was made by a For-profit, non-governmental, third-party vendor.Â Then judge said that heresay was admissible.
I quoted Star Valley’s website saying that they were out to crack down on dangerous drivers and presented my driving record as evidence that I was not a dangerous driver.Â I sited court cases where these tickets were thrown out because a representative from Redflex was not there to authenticate the evidence.Â In a standard traffic stop a police officer has to verify the drivers identity and then fill out the paperwork properly so that it stands up in court.Â THEN they have to actually show up in court as a witness to the complaint.Â Since none of these things happened, I asked for the case to be dismissed.
For the prosecutor’s cross questioning, he realized that he had no witness and he retrieved the photos from evidence and asked me if that was my car.Â I said it looked like my car.Â Then he asked if that was me driving, and I said, “I believe that I don’t have to answer that.”Â He pressed some more and the judge said that I was there to testify and I said that I didn’t have to say anything that would be self incriminated.Â The judge then asked the prosecutor to have a seat.Â In his closing statement, the prosecutor said that I needed to slow down for my safety, the safety of the people around me, and for the safety of the child that I had with me in the car.Â I reiterated that there was no witness against me and that this photo enforcement system was just a commercialization of law enforcement.Â I also said that on the day in question I was on my way to a boy scout leadership training camp and there were no children with me in the car.Â If the prosecutor could not tell from the photo whether or not there was a child in the car, then how could they attempt to identify me as the driver?
The judge said that she thought that I probably was speeding, “but in the interest of justice, I find you not responsible”.Â exhale! the end… or is it?
I got all the information, sent off my $24 along with a self-addressed stamped envelope for the DVD of the hearing and was SHOCKED when an audio CD showed up.Â I wrote them a letter demanding my DVD or refund my money, so they sent me a check.Â the end.Â Here’s a video summary that I shot in my car right after the hearing.Â Maybe some day I’ll make a mask of Mayor Bill Rappaport to wear through Star Valley.Â If they send me a photo enforcement complaint, I’ll identify the driver as the mayor, and see what type of fun we can have next time around!by