National Motorists Association
There may be some confusion about this process of fighting a traffic ticket in our Commonwealth.
Numero uno: If you get stopped be as polite and none-threatening as you can. Don't admit guilt, just kind of a golly-gee/oh-shucks ignorance. If you make them mad they'll only remember you that much better. Besides, they could also start beating you with their flashlights... As soon as you can, write down everything that happened.
Number two: If you get charged with a criminal offense such as reckless or negligent driving, DUI, vehicular homicide or hit-and-run, hire an attorney. But for a civil complaint such as simple speeding - do not pay! If you plead guilty, over the next six years you may end up paying close to $2500 extra, you'll be getting that much closer to a license suspension and you'll perpetuate a rigged system. You'll also find no one will care about your story anymore. Do send the ticket in and be careful not to miss the deadline - 20 days! And don't forget to photocopy the citation before you send it off.
Number three (at the initial hearing): Be there, look presentable and have a reasonable story why you believe you are innocent. Some excuses that DON'T work: "I set my cruise control...", "I was just going with traffic..." and "Yes, I was speeding, but..."
Your line should be something like 'that nice police officer gave this ticket to a wrong person.' Neither radar, LIDAR or a speedometer identifies the vehicle the officer claims was speeding. You are innocent and you believe this radar readout belonged to that sports car or to that big truck or whatever and because of traffic/darkness/obstructions at the time, the officer happened to give this ticket to you instead of the real culprit... At this point there is no need for you to go into further details! The officer who is present WILL coach the ticketing officer about your defense when you decide to appeal the magistrate's ruling.
Remember: the magistrates get paid from the fines they collect and the officer present is NOT the ticketing officer. So don't get mad - this hearing is only designed to make you give up. Don't be disappointed if you don't win - APPEAL. It only improves your chances of a dismissal no matter what they tell you. They are not your friends.
(BTW, complaints against clerk-magistrates should be directed to the Supreme Judicial Court's Committee on Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Court, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108. (617-557-1101)
If you appeal:
Here is a template for the officer's training and equipment records request. Then write another request to the agency in charge of the road for a speed study.
KEEP AN OFFICIAL RECORD OF YOUR WRITTEN REQUESTS, because if you don't get any of it, you can ask the court to dismiss the case or at least get the hearing postponed in order to prepare your defense.
FOR PRACTICE, SPEND AN HOUR OR SO IN THE MUNICIPAL COURT THAT YOUR TICKET IS GOING TO EVENTUALLY BE HEARD IN.
Number 4: At the Show.
What you are trying to do is show the judge it couldn't happened the way the officer is testifying. Your job is to draw the judge's attention away from you and onto what the officer did or did not do. Stay calm, polite and focused.
Don't hesitate to remind them this is a court of law - and just like you, the officers must comply with all legal requirements. Judges are legal professionals and even if they have to listen to people whine all day, they supposedly care about the law. At least that's what they are telling us when they need us for jury duty...
(The TRF-16 "State Police Speed Measuring Document," is outlining what the good officers should be doing when enforcing motor vehicle laws.)
Have the officer acknowledge:
Basically, any testimony by the officer as to the validity of the device should be thrown out or prevented, as he is not qualified to give an expert opinion. What he/she thinks about the precision of LIDAR is valid only because the manufacturer told him/her so and is irrelevant in the court. LTI (the original LIDAR manufacturer) is a company that has teetered on the brink of bankruptcy for some time -- although they finally posted a first quarter profit. They just settled a shareholder lawsuit that accused the company of misleading shareholders and the public. They were in trouble with the SEC for violating securities laws (artificially inflating their stock price), their accounting firm quit, and their stock was halted. Mention that next time some cop touts any of LTI's claims about its laser gun. The company's reports are public and available to anyone who wants them -- you don't have to be a shareholder.
Furthermore, the legal requirements for laser ticket convictions are identical to radar: the officer MUST first visually estimate the speed of a vehicle without a radar or a laser, before confirming his or her estimate with that speed measuring device. Therefore, the officer's ability to accurately estimate a speed by looking at the close-up of a portion of the vehicle (typically the license plate or a headlight) thousands of feet away through a scope must be questioned in court.
Finally, under Massachusetts law in unposted areas and in areas where the speed limit was not posted legally, the officer must observe you speed over a certain distance (see: Mass General Laws 90/17). This makes the equipment's often touted ability to obtain instantaneous readouts detrimental rather than advantageous to the officer.
Not to be cynical about this, but in February 1999 Amadou Diallo was gunned down by the New York's Finest. Four police officers fired total of 41 bullets, hitting Mr. Diallo 19 times. (That equals 46.3%). He was simply standing in the vestibule of his apartment building only a dozen feet away from the officers. Then, three other NYC detectives were acquitted of all charges in the 50-shot killing of Sean Bell, an unarmed groom-to-be on his wedding day in November 2006. 16 shots entered Mr. Bell's body. (That's 32% of the shots fired.) Had these been traffic laser cases instead of a murder cases, those same officers would've undoubtedly testified under oath they all possessed 100% accuracy hitting a moving object the size of a license plate thousands of feet away - and every single time!
See also "How to beat a Speeding Ticket."
I realize this is a tall order, but:
The only way to overturn a judge's decision is to file an appeal to the Appellate Court, but a complain about a judge's conduct can be filed by sending in this form.
Good luck and let me know how you did!