Had a rather nasty experience in court today. About a year ago I was charged with making a prohibited right turn at a particular intersection in Toronto (disobey sign, 182 (2)). The officer was actually mistaken – I did not make the alleged turn and came straight through the said intersection - so I decide to plead not guilty and go to court. Knowing that the cop has made a mistake and that he could not have seen me make the turn, before going to court I check Google Maps, find the intersection in question and print a dozen or so 8x10 black & white shots from Google Maps clearly showing that he could not have seen me making the said turn unless he has x-ray vision and can see through a number of dense leafy trees, a 6' high solid wood fence and a brick house standing in the way. I arrive at the court on time, am told by the prosecutor to discuss the case with his colleague and the officer who are outside the courtroom. The colleague tells me the officer always wins (he is sitting right beside her), asks to see my photos which I show them, and then still continues to try to persuade me to plead guilty. I refuse and go back inside waiting to be called up.
After the usual "plead guilty with explanation", "plead guilty to lower charge" and dismissing all other cases where the officer isn't present, I get called up. At this time there are at least seven or eight other defendants in the courtroom and only the single officer, who has about two dozen traffic ticket pads (i.e. the pads with his copies of all the tickets he has issued). The officer presents his direct evidence (clearly a rehearsed speech with the particulars of defendant, date, time and location modified as needed) and actually says on the witness stand that (a) he had a clear and unobstructed view of the intersection, (b) that he first observed me approaching the intersection where I allegedly made this turn two car lengths before I arrived at the intersection, and that (3) he never lost sight of my vehicle from that point on until he pulled me over (some 80 meters later, down and around a blind curve in the road). I am asked if I wish to cross-examine the officer, I ask him to repeat the part about the clear unobstructed view etc. and he does. I then ask the judge if I can present my photos as evidence and am told this is "questions only - I'll get a chance to testify later". So I say I have no further questions and then I am called to the stand.
I tell my story that I did not come from where the officer said I did and offer the photos (which clearly contradict his statement) as evidence. The judge takes a look at them and instead asks where I came from. I indicated that I drove straight through the intersection and volunteered the information that I turned onto the street in question at a different intersection (a block back, where right turns are allowed). He then asks if I have a photo of the intersection where I did turn onto the street, which of course I don't - why would I bring pictures of some other irrelevant intersection at which I made a turn at a previous point in time. He asks if I know the name of the street where I did turn, which I did not. Seeing as the prosecutor actually has Google Maps open on his computer right in front of him (he had been looking at a different intersection for a previous case and it was still open on his computer), I politely tell the judge that I can check in two seconds and give him the answer, but he says what the prosecution has on their computer is irrelevant and that I can’t and then asks the prosecution if they have any questions. The prosecutor takes a very quick look at my photos, says nothing of them and asks if I have any other evidence. I say I don't - at this stage I am totally confused as to why the judge is not even considering what I have to offer despite having looked at the photos, which the clerk stapled and kept (does this mean that they were accepted as evidence?) - and then the judge tells me to step down. I go back to the defendant stand, and he says that the officer gave testimony that I made the wrong turn, that he (the judge) has no reason to challenge the verbal evidence given by the officer, that I did not have a photo of the different intersection where I did turn onto the street and didn’t know the street name, and that I did not bring a witness (which I do have as my wife was in the car with me at the time and the officer's notes stated as much - I never thought that I'd need her testimony seeing as I had photos), and that it comes down to mine vs. the officers account, and hence I am found guilty of the offence (fine is what the ticket said, $85 plus surcharges and I think two demerit points). My wife actually walks in the courtroom as the judge is saying this -- I politely ask if I can now call my witness, to which he just says "no, it's over".
So - I guess I got properly outlawyered. I don’t know whether the fact that there were seven or eight other people in the courtroom all waiting for a trial with the same cop may have had something to do with the judge’s verdict, but the fact is that I had evidence that clearly shows the officer lied about being able to see me where he said he did, and the judge chose to ignore the same. It really pisses me off that I actually got convicted of something I did not do, that the officer lied on the stand and that evidence showing that he is lying was not even taken into account by the judge. I am assuming that there is a transcript of the whole trial, and now that his testimony is on the record, does this not mean that he has committed perjury? If it does, what ramifications does this have on the officer, and more importantly on me, if I choose to appeal the verdict? What happens if I ask for an appeal and claim that the cop gave false testimony (which AFAIK is a serious offence)? Should I just let it go?
I have - or, I should say, had until today - a clean driving record. This is now becoming a matter of principle and not just dollars and demerit points or insurance premiums. I do have another speeding ticket trial coming up – 5 km/h over the limit (55 in a 50) to which I also pled not guilty as the ticket says the fine is $275.00 as does the notice of trial. What is the wise decision – should I appeal? If yes, on what grounds?
With my sincere apologies for the long rant and my gratitude for your time,