I walked into the courtroom, like I was walking onto a yacht, cowboy hat strategically dipped below one eye, my tie it was apricot. (To the tune of You’re So Vain, with credit to Carly Simon).
My lovely client, Miss Sugar, known in legal parlance as THE ACCUSED, was trembling. Was it from fear, or in eager anticipation of being saved, again, by her devoted advocate, COWBOYLAWYER?
No matter, although it should have been the latter. The proper emotion for THE ACCUSED should have been confidence, if not confidence in the legal system, confidence in her swaggering lawyer.
I greeted the prosecuting attorney, “When you see me coming, better step aside. A lot of men didn’t and a lot of men died,” (Credit to Tennesse Ernie Ford’s ballad, Sixteen Tons).
He got the picture. He invited us to sit down. This was a pre-trial conference, not the actual trial, the trial that he dreaded. The trial he now wanted to avoid. “Let’s talk about a disposition,” he said.
I wasn’t buying any plea deal. “The disposition we will accept is a dismissal of the charges. How about that?”
As Sugar’s mouthpiece, I made my arguments. They were, as you will soon read, very compelling. Yet you wonder whether they were persuasive. That is why you will keep reading until the end. With bated breath.
“First,” I sez, sez I, “The two hour parking sign does not warn that one cannot move from one parking space to another in the same block and still be cited. A person is not born knowing that. My client moved her vehicle from one spot to another, albeit in the same block, precisely to avoid a ticket. How was she to know that she cannot stay on the same block? This is a grave injustice, grave, I say!”
The quivering prosecutor paled. He could see that his worst nightmare was coming true. He could see the danger he faced taking that to trial. He softly offered, “Well, I see your point. I will dismiss that one.”
Miss Sugar brightened. “Thank you,” she said to the prosecutor. (She should have said it to me).
I wasn’t through with this guy. “And now dismiss the one for parking overtime in the lot across the street.”
He looked confused. “But she was there from noon until 8:30 p.m. in a space clearly marked 2 hours only.”
“Exactly!. She did it on purpose because she has a permit for that lot. She bought it after getting multiple tickets. What good is the permit, Pardner?”
“Well,” he explained, “some of the spaces are marked ‘Permit Parking Only’ and others are 2 hour spaces only, even if you have a permit.”
“How was my client supposed to know that? She just knew she had a permit for that lot. She parked in the first available stall. She did not want to drive around looking at each sign. She should not have to do so. She should have been given a map at the time she purchased the permit. She did not think she had to park at the other end of the lot, almost to Perkins Restaurant.”
“I guess I could dismiss that one too.” He did not want to look into my fierce eyes.
Sugar thanked him again. What about thanking me? Perry Mason’s clients thanked him rather than the prosecutor.
“Okay, now how about the two tickets she got in the same afternoon? One was enough. She will pay for one, but she did not move her car after the first one because she thought she had been cited already.”
The prosecutor explained, weakly, that it is possible to get more than one ticket when a vehicle remains in a 2 hour spot after the first ticket. He reported that Sugar’s tickets that day were issued three hours apart.
“She will pay for one, but not for two. How about that?” I was repeating myself. His recital of the facts and explanation of the law did not alter my opinion.
“Okay,” he said. I wondered if he was going to cry.
“She already paid for one. We just set the second one for trial. We asked the guy at the counter to check on it. Here he is.”
The guy at the counter came in and explained to the prosecutor that Sugar had, indeed, already paid for one ticket. It had taken him a half hour to find it, but he remembered when she came in on another day and paid. He apologized that the payment had not shown up because of the trial setting leaving the case open. He promised that the correction had now been made.
So the prosecutor dismissed all three of the charges that we came in for. However, he said that he still had to charge $35 for court costs. He said that he did not have the power to waive court costs, since that is the charge for filing for trial.
“That’s fine,” I said. “Credit her for what she already paid and dismiss all remaining charges. We will pay the $35. You’ve got yourself a deal!”
So we paid the $35 and left the building. We’d had enough fun for one day.