Just had my day in court and lost
But I wanted to post my story in case it helps anyone else fare better than I did.
This past October I had the unfortunate luck to receive my first traffic ticket in at least 16 years. It was for failure to stop at a red light, a serious matter no doubt, but as both my passenger and I agreed, the light had most definitely been Amber when I entered the intersection and I had no time to stop for it. ‘No problem’ I thought to myself, after the initial shock had worn off, ‘I have the truth on my side, I did not commit this offence, and I’ll just go to court and present my side of the case.’ This, I have now learned was fairly naive of me. First, after doing a little research on the internet, I found that I could receive disclosure, in this case, the police officer’s notes. So, I sent in my request when I received my court date. No response. I sent it again, still nothing. So off I went to court, hoping to delay the trial so I could get my hands on these notes.
At the first trial, I stated I had not received my disclosure, the prosecutor claimed they did not receive my request. Well I had the fax receipt in my hands, but maybe such a busy office hadn’t gotten to all their faxes? Well no, as I later discovered, when I received my disclosure, with the date stamp on it (the date was before my trial) they had received my request, ignored it, and then lied about it in court. I was taken aback by this.....they can just lie? And for what purpose?
Anyways, I decided to proceed with my fight, I prepared questions to show that the officer had not seen my car enter the intersection, he did not pull me over until blocks later, and had lost sight of my car, making it possible that it had been another car after me that had run the red. I thought I had a decent case. Unfortunately it hinged on the officer being able to recall the events, and tell the truth about them, which I thought he would. Not only did he change the story while on the stand, first he saw me only once I was in the intersection, then he saw me enter the intersection. He also lied about where he pulled me over! He claimed it was 100m from the intersection, which was absolutely not the case. The Justice of the Peace wouldn’t let me finish my line of questioning to establish that there was no way he didn’t lose sight of my vehicle given the set up of the intersection and the heavy traffic (Queen and Dufferin, bridge prevents being able to see around the corner). He then contradicted the officer’s own testimony (and notes) by saying there was light traffic, when the officer had said more than once that there was heavy traffic. He did not take into account my testimony or my witness’s that the light had been amber, or that I was pulled over in a completely different spot than the officer said. So I was convicted, based on convoluted testimony of an officer that clearly didn’t remember the incident. The attitude of the JP towards me made me feel that he had already found me guilty in his mind from the moment I went up there. I’m not sure why, I wasn’t rude or disrespectful, I dressed appropriately and did not interrupt, and I only sought to tell my story in hopes that the truth would come out. I feel now that traffic court is a complete waste of time, testimony does not matter unless you are a police officer, you are convicted before you even open your mouth. I feel let down by the officer who clearly did not remember and just made things up on the stand to justify the ticket. I feel let down by the JP, who did not care about the truth and made things up to suit his decision. I am not going to appeal, though I probably should, because this matter has already taken up too much of my time, I just wanted to tell my story so that others can be more prepared for how things work than I was. I think I naively thought that the JP would listen to both sides of the story and give them equal weight, I was wrong. I wish I had hired a lawyer.