If you issue tickets, UTTs, citations or whatever your department calls “paper”, the Officer must go to court to offer the civilian his or her DAY IN COURT.  Some offenders will have attorneys, but many will come alone defending themselves.

I will never understand the mindset of anyone who was issued a ticket who decided to bring a lawyer to traffic court with them.  Unless, the lawyer is your uncle, nephew, neighbor, who owes you a favor, it’s an expensive proposition involving many hundreds of dollars.

But it is, as we all know, their right to do so.

I remember one fellow from Britain who I issued a speeding ticket to for going 40 miles per hour OVER the posted speed limit.  He insisted on a trial.  He was sworn in, said his piece, had no questions for me and appeared to be very proud of his testimony.

I, in turn, gave my testimony, and, as you all know, it is up to the Judge.

Just when I thought it was completed, the defendant asked to make one final statement.  He looked at the Judge and declared “….your Honor, if I WAS speeding, I was speeding for only four or five seconds at the very most.”

I was shocked!!!!  The Judge listened, lowered his head and wrote a few words on his legal pad, saying finally “on the basis of the testimony given before me, I find you guilty of the charge.”

The defendant was livid!!!  He started screaming about how this was like the old Soviet Union, a “kangaroo court”, no justice in this jurisdiction, and, if I remember correctly, his remarks were laced with a little profanity.

The Judge told him that he admitted to speeding in his final remark and that there was an appeal process, etc.  The defendant wanted no part of it, paid his fine and stormed out of the court room.



On another case, I was summoned to the Grand Jury to offer testimony along with an officer from the County who assisted in the arrest.  I gave my testimony in front of the fifteen or so members and then it was the other Officer’s turn.

He was asked to stand, raise his right hand and was asked “do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”  His answer:  “I don’t believe in God.”

You could hear a dime drop on the carpeted floor!!

The ADA was extremely annoyed, telling him afterwards, that he should have told him this and he would have had him sworn to another oath.  That was one angry Assistant District Attorney.



My advice for any Officers going to court would be as follows:

  1. Always start with where you work, where and when you were certified, the day, date and time you were on patrol, and the date, day and time of the issuing of the ticket and where you were in your jurisdiction.
  1. Rember to mention that you observed the violation, and, if a speeding infraction, that the radar unit simply reinforced your observation of speed.
  1. Bring any and all calibrations of radar units to give evidence of the unit working correctly. The defendant (or attorney) might not ask for them but have them.
  1. Always end your testimony with “I returned to my police vehicle and resumed patrol.”

It might sound silly and somewhat pedantic, but doing it this way will not give the defendant or lawyer any chance of poking holes in your testimony.

As it was explained to me by a senior Deputy when I first came on, go in like a battleship and the worst they can do is throw pebbles at you.

He also said “Don’t rush to bar fights”, but I’ll leave that to your discretion.

At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.




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