Friday, September 17, 2010

How I fought the law...and I won!

April 21, 2010, approximately 520 pm..pacific standard time:
   I was on the job, driving back to Santa Monica from Marina Del Rey. I decided to take the "scenic" route. Which would be Pacific Ave, going right through the heart of Venice Beach. A lovely bohemian town filled with its local residents sifting through trash cans, urinating on eclectic works of art on the side of gang tagged buildings. I love it. Venice never gets old. You can truly see every human creature on the face of the planet within a 3/4 mile stretch of beach.
   There I was, stopped at the light, gazing at the dangling Venice sign strung across Windward street with great comfort. Windows down, radio singing out loud. My casual driving style never broken, left arm extended to the top of the wheel and right arm propped on the center console resting my head. Just like that sculpture "The Thinker".(is that what its called?..not to be ironic but maybe we didn't truly understand what that sculpture truly means...maybe that dude just is beside himself because he cant think at all?!) Anyways..The light flicks green and I begin to release the brake...
   Red and blue lights fill my rear view mirror to the sound of a electronic chirping. There are only two possibilities.
     1. I have some how transported to a club playing Mexican hiphop. (I believe there is a proper name for    this? Sean Paul and random sirens..but he isn't Mexican. Whatever.
     2. A COP!!
    I bet you can answer this multiple choice question. I begin to slowly pull over and turn right on the next available street away from Pacific. I am confused, and confident at the same time. I did nothing wrong. It was a work car. First thing that pops into my mind..
" Oh! I bet the registration tag is expired. No big deal. We never remember to put those tags on. Haha. Classic mix-up" i say to myself.
  Up walks the officer. Female. I have a straight face on, but slight smirk as she approaches the window of the silver Jeep Cherokee.
"Do you know why I pulled you over sir?"
          "No clue mam? Whats going on?"
"You were talking on your cell phone. I have two sets of eyes that saw you" she states.
Ok. Timeout. Here comes the truth. My cell phone was resting between my legs. This is the typical resting place for my phone while I drive. Why? No clue. Yes I keep my phone on vibrate and no that is not why its there! Do I talk on the cell phone without a handsfree while driving? You better fucking believe I do. And so do you. But this time...NO! Its was comfortable nestled between my thighs.
  "Umm...what?! I most certainly was not talking on the cell phone. Look at my call log. There is nothing" I explain.
She crinkles her nose and cocks her head to the side just in the slightest, shooting me a glare of guilt and bitchiness...
  "Yeah, well you could have just deleted it in the time it took to pull you over. We have seen it all before. I have four eyes that saw you." (with snappy tone)
I look behind me and there is another officer that was in the vehicle with her. Another power hungry female officer. Just fantastic.
  "How could you possibly see me talking on the phone when you are behind me. My phone wasn't even in my hand. This is pretty stupid."
"Well where is your hands free? Why is your phone right there in your lap?"
   Damnit! No douchey hands free headgear. Cell phone pressing my zipper region. I am furious and clueless. She shoots back some more snatchy remarks and proceeds to write my citation. Blah blah...just give me the ticket. The transaction takes place and squad car team bitch leaves. I begin to once again continue on my journey back to my branch. The entire time pondering why I was even pulled over to begin with. Then it finally clicks! She saw my head resting on my right hand while stopped at the light. I look and read the ticket.
   {Drivers right hand extended to right ear talking on cell phone}
  My anger and frustration increases. I know the state is as poor as can be, but seriously?! I will fight! Having a couple of friends in law enforcement helps. My gameplan. Delay delay delay. A couple weeks later I receive the citation in the mail. 142$ . Not the end of the world, but its the principle behind it all!!! The principle! The "bail" is due by June 7th. Two days prior I ask for an extension. You are allotted one per citation I believe. This pushes my date back to Aug 7th when it is due.
  August 7th: I show up to the courthouse on Santa Monica blvd in West LA. Line up outside the building around 830am..waiting for them to open the doors at 9. The finest of America's citizens there side by side with me. I completely expected to contest it there and then, in front of a judge. My cell phone records in hand. They felt like top secret documents that would save the world. Well, my world on that day.
  My logic and defense: Ticket stated my right hand was to my ear. Therefore it would be pretty hard to be texting or checking out my twitter since I can see the damn phone. So I "must have been chit chatting away". Well I can prove that!  No incoming or outgoing calls. No checking of voicemail.
  BOOM! Whatcha got on me now??! Man can't hold me down!

"Do you plead guilty and want traffic school? Or not guilty" she asks.
"NOT GUILTY"...Lets get ready to rumble!
"Okay, well your court date will be set a month later...your day will be September 15th at 830AM. mmkay?"
  What? What is going on? Another extension? How much of my life is this going to take? I was ready to fight for myself in the court of law. Delayed yet another month....

September 15th. 830AM
  I show up on time. Dress pants. White crisp shirt. Blue and green preppy tie with a tie clip. Lawyered up, and ready to go. They direct all us criminals inside the court room to the right.About 30 people including myself. Some normal. Two really cute girls. Some people that look guilty as soon as they walked through the door. Lets just say it wasn't shocking to see the local courts daily clientele.
  To the left sitting area...The Police officers! We the people, exhausting our civil liberties to the right. Sitting. Waiting. Every couple minutes, one by one..enters an officer. Everyones heads turning violently to the left as the heavy double doors open. With each entrance, a sigh of relief from a majority of the crowd, followed by one soul blasting out with a "Shit!" or my favorite, "Oh no!" This was pure comedy. Minutes would go by, and my lovely officer had yet to show. I was in the clear. The judge begins to enter, but the door behind me opens one last time.
        "Son of a bitch!" It was here. Palms suddenly sweaty. My right leg begins to move up and down like Thumper in Bambi. Why am I so nervous? I am right. The judge sits, we all stand in recognition and sit right back down. My turn is finally called. I climb over the guilty African American fellow sitting next to me to get to the aisle. Walk through the swinging fence to the defendants podium.
  Officer Alvayero speaks first. Explains the citation. There is no way she remembers this. She is purely here to collect some overtime cash monies. Now, its my big stage. The spotlight was mine. I was about to blow these other defendants out of the water and surely have some of them ask my to defend them in their future ventures with the law.
   "Your honor. I am not guilty of this fine. I was not talking on my phone during this time and was wrongfully pulled over. The confusion on behalf of this officer has a logical explanation as well. I do not fault her."  A little brown nosing. A little charming of the female judge as well.
"With me I have my citation, which states..{Drivers right hand to right ear, talking on phone}. Yes, my right hand was pressed to my right ear, but simply as a crutch for my tired head which was exhausted from a long days work. Simply resting while I was stopped at a light. Not driving, but stopped. When I drive I use both hands on the wheel. This ticket indicates I could not possibly be texting or checking emails. It is simply impossibly to read through my right ear. Therefore I must have been having a conversation or checking voicemail. Does this all sound logical?"
The crowd behind me, griping at every word I say, wondering what was up my sleeve. How was he going lower the boom to beat "THE MAN" ??
"Yes, that would seem logical" the honorable judge replies.
"With me I have documents containing my cell phone log. Within these logs it documents incoming, outgoing call and voicemail calls as well." I place said document on a projector that reminded me of one I used in a classroom from 6th grade geography class. Appropriately highlighted was the time of the supposed infraction. No cell phone transactions within 20 minutes of this time period. "As you can see your honor, no cell phone usage. This log is legit. You must acquit!"
Cheers ring out from the Angelinos behind me. A couple "oh snap's" followed by silence.
"Order! Order! Officer, did you document the cell phone you accused Mr Parente of using?"declared the Judge.
"No your honor" sulked the distraught female officer.
"Case dismissed! Next case."
   I give a slight fist pump resembling Tiger Woods sinking a put at Augusta. Or maybe sinking something else. I turn to my peers and repeat. Then walk to the double doors, pushing each open as if busting into the local saloon. Victory. And exit the building and then I finally breathe for the first time in the last 15 minutes.

....if this all happened, I would be a complete badass and local legend. But in all lady cop didn't show. It was dismissed immediately and just left. Happy. My refund will come back to me in 6-8 weeks.


1 comment:

  1. no. you. didn't...! I got the same ticket. Wish I fought it, but paid it bc it was a bigger pain in the butt to fight it. Congrats on your victory!