All the civil cases were shuffled into a smaller courtroom. I saw the Trooper on the way into the court so I knew that my 1st line of defense had been eliminated.
We were both sworn in and the officer proceeded to read his statement. I interjected, “Objection, Your Honor! The witness is reading from notes. He should have independent recollection.”
“Overruled, next time stand up when objecting so I can sustain it. Continue.”
This threw the Trooper for a curve, as he had lost his place and struggled to regain the flow of the story. I let him finish and he rested.
Then I started in on my three pages of cross-examination questions. Because I was overruled on the reading of a statement, I couldn’t specifically ask him if he had independent recollection of the events. If he didn’t, his testimony could have be thrown out because, in reality, he has no knowledge of the events without reading the citation. I asked several detailed questions relating to who, what, where and when, to which most of the questions he had no recollection. This weakened his credibility.
“At what distance did you obtain the speed measurement?”
1044 ft (he read from the citation)
“What part of my car did you aim at?”
“Trooper Costanza**, what is the width of the laser beam @ 1000ft?”
I don’t know
Do you hit what you aim at with 100% accuracy?”
“If not, how can you be absolutely sure you hit my car at 1000ft?”
“Could you hit a target at 1000ft with your weapon?”
“Can you attest that the information written on citation K1028597 is true and correct?”
Looks at citation for a few seconds…. Yes
“The defense offers exhibit A, the vehicle registration for aforementioned vehicle. Trooper Costanza, can you recite for the court the plate type as printed on the registration?”
PAS ( On the citation it said VAN for ‘vanity’. I have a Veteran plate on my Cobra)
ME: “Let the record show that the plate type on the citation DOES NOT match the vehicle registration.”
“Trooper Costanza, can you recite for the court the registration number as printed on the registration?”
VTJRxx (The Citation said just JRxx**)
ME: “Let the record show that the registration number on the citation DOES NOT match the vehicle registration.”
“Trooper Costanza, did you look at the registration while writing the citation?
“If you testified that the citation is true and correct then why does the plate type and registration type on the citation not match the registration?
Sometimes the DMV can make mistakes…
ME: “OBJECTION, Your Honor! The Witness is not qualified to speak as to what the DMV does.”
“Trooper Costanza, if the plate was indeed a vanity plate, what would it say?”
“Trooper Costanza, are you familiar with MGL, Chapter 90C, section 2?”
ME: “Defense offers an excerpt from aforementioned law. This states that the violator shall be requested to sign the citation, acknowledging receipt.” (This is not a defense on its own, but it doesn’t help the Trooper)
“Did you ask me to sign the citation?”
No, but it is State Police policy to….
ME: “Objection, Your Honor. Non-responsive after ‘No.'” (He can only answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’)
“Are you familiar with MGL Chapter 66 Section 10 covering inspection of Public Records?”
“Did you receive my request for inspection of public records related to this case?”
“Did you furnish any of the requested documentation?”
No, I understood that it only could be subpoenaed.
ME: “Trooper Costanza, this is a civil case to which subpoenas don’t apply.” (I know I am bullshitting here). “A public record is a public record and you should have complied as the law states within 10 days. The law also states that the burden of proof lies with the state to precisely prove why it is not a public record.” (This is true..right from the law!) “Your honor, I offer exhibits B and C. The request, based on Mass General Law Chapter 66, Section 10 that I sent to Trooper Costanza and the United Stated Postal Service Return receipt for the letter which was sent via Certified Mail. No further questions, Your Honor.”
“Offer to move into evidence all previously identified exhibits.” The judge asked me if I wished to testify. No wanting to incriminated myself I answered, “No affirmative defense, Your Honor.”
I don’t have to testify. If I did, the Trooper could ask me if I was going 103 to which I would have to say ‘yes’. The Judge asked if the Trooper had anything else to add. He said he had a few questions for me. The Judge said ‘no,’ because I was not testifying (ha-ha!)
At that point, I went in for the kill. “Your Honor, Motion for finding of NOT RESPONSIBLE on the grounds that the people’s case is insufficient as it stands now, in that:
1. There are both factual and procedural errors with the citation
2. The was no foundation (calibration) shown for the speed measurement device
3. The request for public information relevant to the defense’s case was not acted upon by the Trooper in accordance with the law.
4. The officer did not seem to have independent recollection of the events and therefore his testimony should not be considered.
With that, the judge looks over the citation and the registration and offers his decision, “While I have no doubt, Mr. Seinfeld **, that you were grossly exceeding the speed limit at the time, there are errors on the citation that this court cannot not overlook. The court takes No Notice (Civil case version of ‘Not Guilty’) of this case. Slow down, Mr. Seinfeld”
** Names and Numbers changed to protect the author
(who, by the way, is not a lawyer. He is an engineer for a phone company.)