Thursday, March 13, 2008

True Albuquerque Stories #2: My Day in Court

I'll say this, Hillary or Obama, don't care, but on the off chance either of them picks Bill Richardson as their running mate...hell no.

Why, because let's just say that on a good day, the State of New Mexico does not have it's affairs in order, and on a bad day...shiiiiiiiit.

My first or second week in town I got a speeding ticket. It was fast, I won't get into specifics but I was going 66 in a forty. Or at least that's what the officer clocked me at. I have a litany of excuses as to why and how I could not have ever possibly been traveling at such a high rate of speed but this is neither time nor place. What follows is the story of how I got rid of this ticket, and the far-too-long-and-complicated-process involved.

First day in court.
In regards to traffic tickets, the American legal system works very well. You go to court, meet with the prosecutor or the judge, act sad that you went that fast, and they raise your fine but drop the points. Not in abq. I go to court and find out my only way out of this ticket, which I need to find a way out of as it's an 8 point offense, is to attend traffic school or plead not guilty and take the whole matter to court which never turns out well. I plead guilty and agree attend traffic school which I then find out is a three (3) day commitment.

Traffic school day one:
I arrive at traffic school and have a near catastrophe. You have to pay there, in cash, and it's $155. I run to the ATM at this grocery store next door but my new Bank, the Bank and Trust of New Mexico only allows a person to withdraw a 100 bucks a day from an ATM. After some scrambling and buying and returning of unnecessary groceries, I get the cash and race back to traffic school.
I sign in and too my surprise I see all sorts of photos of the traffic school teacher/money taker/traffic school business entrepreneur with the recently late Pimp C. We start talking about Pimp C a bit and then he asks if I can get an of the UFC fighters that he manages into the film I'm working on. I told him we only had a couple more day of shooting but i'd see what I could do.

Let's take a step back. Traffic school not only is friends with rappers and display this friendship via photos in his place of business which just so happens to be running a traffic school, but he manages UFC fighters. I know, Renaissance man extraordinare.

Traffic school starts and the first hour he gives the rules; no cellphones, no talking, no Spanish (unless you want to attend the Spanish traffic school, where there is no English) no messy food, no fighting (and don't try him, he just had to kick some clowns out for fighting a week ago) so on and so forth. The fighting thing got to me, cause who the fuck brings their beef into traffic school. I don't get it.
Also, they sell nachos there.

The first day ended and we had to report back to school the next day at 8am which I was not going to do because I went home to see the Packers beat the Seahawks. I called the court to reschedule my second day of school but there was a snafu because I had already rescheduled the class I attended and in between when I rescheduled the first time and now the city had passed a new law making it illegal to reschedule more than once. Long and short, I would have to go back to court.

Second day in court:
I got to court, but not court court, just the bottom floor where you pay fines and talk schedule your appearance and the what-not. I'm talking to the lady behind the counter who informs me there are two warrants our for my arrest. One is for my original court cost from my first day in court and the second is for failure to show up for my second day of traffic school.
the first warrant costs 155 and the second costs 250. I got confused because I thought the fee I paid at traffic school included my initial court cost, and the fact that it was the exact same amount of money was too much of a coincidence. After much grief and consternation, the lady agreed to go re check my file to see if I had paid.
Well, she walks away a cop walks over to me and stand literally an inch away from my face and breaths down my neck and leans into me and asks, "how you doing buddy? Everything alright?"
And out of nowhere the lady returns and asks, "so, are you willing and prepared to pay the entire amount." A fucking shakedown. So I did. I got another appointment and day in court before I left.

Third day in court:
I go to court nervous as shit having absolutely no idea what will happen to me. My boss was ready to get the call to come and bail me out of jail. I go up to court and wait my turn. Now I've been to court a few times and it's always you and some other speeders, usually the worst is a few drunk drivers get thrown in there. So imagine my surprise when a slid ding door opens and a group of ten or so hardcore felons, chained up and shackled and all wearing orange jump suits comes waltzing in. I start to loose my shit.

So one of these guys gets up and has his turn to go. He's in court today for the state to decide whether or not to revoke his probation and send his ass right back to jail. And let me tell you, one look at this dude and you would most certainly agree to revoke his probation as fast as humanly possible.

It's not clear what he did to land his ass in prison in the first place but he was a good boy and was let out and now he may or may not have blown his second chance at straight time. The judge offers the prosecute a few minutes recess to look over the case file cause he's new and hadnt seen it. He opens up the folder looks at it for a minute, not even, and almost laughing says. "your honor, it's alright, I think I got it under control."

There are a few cops there who clearly arrested this guy and they go up on the stand and break it down. The cops were out patrolling by the airport and they see some pickup truck smashed to shit against the side of the road. The go up to it and inspect it and there's no one in the front seat but in the back laying down, bloody as hell, passed out snoring, holding a tall boy of Bud Light, is a guy that may or may not be the defendant.

For his part, the defendant claimed it wasn't him, but someone he met in prison on his first bid did it, and gave his name to the police. Fair enough story.
Meanwhile the cop is telling about all the awful terrible things this guy said when they woke him up and the judge stops him cold.

"officer I see it says in the file you took photos of the scene and of the suspect?"
He tells her yes.
"Well why are we talking, show me the photos and let's get down to brass tacks here."

the judge looks at the photos and then gives them to the public defender who looks at the first one, the very first one, and holds his arms up at his client in a digested look that says, "what the fuck dude?"

He puts his hand on the mic and whispers to his client, "you said it wasn't you, I dint know what we are supposed to do now." The judge overhears this and gets a little mad.
She addresses the defendant directly "you said it wasn't you, the photos clearly show it's you, passed out in the back of the pick up truck. How do you explain yourself."

And here's what he said, which could be the greatest thing I've ever heard in my life, let alone in court.

"Your honor, I thought it wasn't me."

Amazing, absolutely amazing.


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