Thursday, July 4, 2013

Guilty, or not guilty

You be the judge.

It's finally freaking hot. I roll out of the underground garage at the office and onto Mountain street planning to head south.

I am greeted by hordes of teenage girls converging on the Bell Centre across the street from the office. Apparently all the commotion is caused by something called "One Direction".

Unfazed because I ride a Vespa, I filter through to the traffic light at the intersection right next to the Bell Centre. It's bedlam, and a police cruiser is sitting with its lights flashing blocking the northbound lane.

A police officer is doing traffic duty. She has all the traffic stopped, while vehicles are slowly backing out of the street that runs in front of the Bell Centre which is thronged with people.

Traffic is backing up in both directions as far as the eye can see.

I sit one pick up truck back from the intersection as the light cycles green, yellow, red, over, and over.

There is no reason for the southbound lane to be stopped and backing up, other than the police officer who is not allowing that lane, my lane, to proceed down Mountain street.

After 10 minutes of this, I've had it. The police officer is oblivious to the unnecessary mess she's making.

My latin blood gets the better of me, and I honk my Stebel horn. When she looks my way, I give the police officer the universal gesture for "come on, already, give us a break, let us go". You know that gesture, both arms rising like a conductor about to strike up the band. The universal gesture for expressing frustration for incompetence.

This elicits a fierce look from my adversary, and she interrupts the festivities to yell gruffly at me "I decide when you get to go, not you!"

She goes back to her duties messing up my commute and those of the hundreds of motorists victimized by her stunning inefficient performance.

What seems like another ten minutes passes. The pickup truck is lurching periodically in protest. My blood is beyond simmering.

I then do what any imbecile in similar circumstances would do, I deliver two more Stebel blasts. Once I have her attention I give her the universal symbol for "come on, please give us a break". In case you're wondering, that's arms oustretched, palms out, arms held downwards, pleading.

Officer plod is certainly paying attention now because she is coming for me with a vengeance.

"Driver's license!" she commands, her hand outstretched, a scowl on her face.

I ask her what law I've broken. "Driver's license!" she repeats ignoring my question. It isn't going well.

She grabs my license, and tells me to pull over and wait for her.

She ignores me for a while, but finally lets the traffic proceed. When she eventually marches over, she demands my registration. I tell her that I did nothing wrong. She says that I was showing disrespect for her authority. This I deny, suggesting to her that I was encouraging her to open the lane because she had a serious traffic snarl to uncork.

She storms off to her cruiser. I call Susan to explain my predicament. She's not surprised. She knows she married a shit disturbing lawyer.

When my friendly neighbourhood cop returns she has her partner in tow. I'm guessing as backup because of the surly dude on the menacing black Vespa. She has a gift for me. A $161 ticket as a reward for my public service. She snarls "You have thirty days to pay or contest". I tell her the traffic ticket is unnecessary. We aren't seeing eye to eye.

When I get home, I check out the offence I've been charged with committing: "Using the horn of a road vehicle, unnecessarily" it says.

Did I? I don't think so. I think that it was obviously necessary, since she was clearly abusing her authority, behaving incompetently with utter disregard for the public she was sworn to serve, and failing to do the very thing she was ostensibly there to do, direct traffic. She wasn't directing as much as obstructing.

In addition, I think that my use of the Stebel was protected by my right of freedom of speech under the constitution.

After all I'm on a bike in full armor and a full face helmet, all of which is black, in the sweltering 30C+ heat, and I have a Stebel air horn. What other choice did I have, honestly?

Your honor I rest my case, and place my fate in the hands of the court of public opinion.


Canajun said...

Montreal cops aren't exactly known for their tolerance. I guess you could see if she shows up in court.

Martha said...

I think she was having a crappy day, too. Turns out her warning device is louder than yours.

The City Mouse in the Country said...

**chuckles** I've often said that a cop directing traffic is going to make a mess of things. So I assume you're going to fight the you have a chance to win?

Trobairitz said...

Having a lawyer as a boss, I can tell you he too dares things us mortal folks wouldn't for fear of a ticket. I wouldn't have had the cojones to honk my horn in that situation.

Around here you would have gotten a "disorderly conduct" for causing a "public alarm". Good luck fighting the ticket. Our judges rubber stamp anything from a police officer or DA.

Unknown said...


I've got nothing smart to say.

Will you be able to accept Vistors where they are taking you ? Do you have striped ties to match your striped suit ? Are they going to censor all of your blog posts, oh oh, are they going to let you keep your computer ?

do they still make licence plates in there ?

Riding the Wet Coast

David Masse said...

Dave, my concern is that a judge will recognize a smart ass lawyer in half the time it took for the smart ass lawyer to recognize the bully cop.

Then it doesn't go well for the smart ass lawyer and the bill goes from $161 to $322... then there's that whole contempt of court risk, cause I'm still a smart ass lawyer and now I'm dealing with a bully judge...

David Masse said...

Absolutely Martha, and I am now appropriately humbled and contrite, and today she's off raining on some other poor slob's parade. It's all good.

David Masse said...

Rob, there's no fight left in this dog. I'm licking my wounds and limping off.

David Masse said...

Trobairitz, here our municipal court judges are generally lenient. Early in my career I spent some time in traffic court doing favours for clients of the firm.

There's a whole subculture there that is quite weird.

For instance (and who knows if this still happens) most people are not represented by counsel, and there is a plea that they regularly use where the charges are read to them, and they say "guilty with an explanation, your honor!".

That makes no sense. And yet, the judge listens patiently, and often "adjusts" their plea to match a fair disposition and either finds them guilty but waives the fine, or acquits them outright.

That wouldn't work for a lawyer. There is no sympathy for lawyers.

David Masse said...

Bob you invariably make me crack a smile.

I'm just going to pay the piper and move on. No hoosegow for me, not for the time being at least.

Unknown said...

Judge: "are you guilty or not guilty"

DM: "Your Honour, let me explai . . . (cut off)

Judge: (shouting) "I asked if you are Guilty ? YES or NO ?

DM: "Your Honour , but butt, buttt .. "

Judge: "Never mind BUT, are you or aren't You ?"

BM: (replying meekly) "but the Lady ....."

Judge: "Stop right now. You Lawyers' are all the same, always asking for leniency. I'm not going to let you off. Pay $161. to the clerk as you leave . . . CASE CLOSED

PS: I am feeling so sorry for you

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

I've no answer though I've been back and forth since I first read your post. I wouldn't have done what you did though would have been very tempted. My fight or flight mentality may have seen me turning around at almost any cost and cooling off over the 'longer way' home.

A question for you though...say you decide to fight it in court and make your plea. Would a judge show a person not of the law (like me) some slack that she may not show you? You'd defend your case better but would you walk into the courtroom a few steps behind?

SonjaM said...

Sorry, mate. You are definitely guilty of pissing of a female officer who obviously had a bad day... Put it into the category 'shit happens', and move on with your scootin' life ;-)

David Masse said...

Coop, a few steps behind is just about right. If mercy is the only card you've got to play, and you are a sympathetic person, you've got a better than even chance of being let off easy.

If you're a lawyer representing a client, and the client has a decent case and is sympathic person, things are looking good.

If you're a lawyer and also the accused, you'd better have a very well put together defence with which to paint the judge in a corner where "innocent" is the only way out.

Oh, and not to forget that if you're a lawyer representing himself, you've got a fool for a client.

len@RE-GLAZE-IT said...

Wow David that's a way of testing out your stebel !
Brave move friend , not one i would have made though:(
I think she was having a bad day before you even showed up armed with your stebel ....the good lady of the law has obviously never ridden a scooter/bike with protective gear on in warm conditions .....she would have know your importance in the need to keep moving . I feel for you and fully understand your levels of frustration rising.....we're not just talking about being delayed(time loss) when we start to COOK in our armour's just not fun.
David your of admirable quality and I like your style ..... But me i would have kept my finger of the buzzer.
Kindest regards
Always a great read to be found here
Scootering adventures

David Masse said...

Coop, you are bang on. There is no doubt I'd walk in a few steps behind, that's very well put.

There is no way I'll contest that ticket unless I can come up with a good defence.

The whole thing will turn on what "unnecessarily" means in the offence that's charged. I don't think that the police officer's demeanor will affect the outcome.

Was calling her attention to the traffic mess and the unfairness of her actions "unnecessary"?

David Masse said...

Sonja, pissing women off, it you're a man, is very rarely a good thing.

I'm movin' on with my scootin' life for sure.

I've looking forward to following your adventures on 'rhymes with orange'.

Actually, Alonzo doesn't rhyme with orange at all. But there's a guy on Modern Vespa with an orange GTS and he refers to it as 'rhymes with orange'. I couldn't resist.

David Masse said...

Thanks for the kind words Len.

There should be a whole bunch of interesting posts as I venture out on my grand tour of the northeast.

Dar said...

Oy I think I would have turned the bike off and then walked it up on the side walk and just pushed it along, but I suppose you would have been given a ticket for driving on the side walk. Ugh - obviously she had the power and I think she probably would have called a supervisor to think of something to ticket you with if she hadnt come up with that little $160 gem.

Unknown said...


Many years ago I was riding a BWS and Mrs Skoot had her Vino. We went down to the Gay Parade, in English Bay, and the streets were blocked and there were police everywhere stopping traffic and making everyone turn around.

We shut off our engines and I started to "Push" our scooters over the sidewalk and into the crosswalk

The policeman looked at me and said "What are you doing"

I said "I'm a bicycle and I want to go over there"

He paused a moment and then he said "Okay, but don't start the engines"

Riding the Wet Coast

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