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officer's narrative style in disclosure
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:17 pm 
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Well, I had my day in court. Charged with a red light offence 144/18 ($325.00 + 3 points). Plead guilty to ignoring lane light 144/10, which I don't really understand ($115.00, no points). I think I made the right choice.
Prior to this... Get ticket, choose to go to trial and filed for disclosure etc.
Disclosure reads: "amber light 1 m/v enters intersection", "light turns red m/v drives through intersection", farther down in the officer's notes it reads: "had 10 to 15' to stop before line indicating beginning of intersection"
Sounded right to me, light went from green to amber just as we entered the intersection (we were closer than 10 or 15 feet but the cop was 200' away so his estimate was fairly subjective). My dispute was that we had cleared the intersection before it turned red.
> Intersection is 183 feet long, light is amber for 5 seconds, I'm travelling at 50 km/h - ergo I travelled 227.5 feet in five seconds.
> 183 + 15 (distance we were outside of intersection) = 198 feet
> 227.5 - 198 = 29.5, I had almost 30 feet to spare.
Day of trial, everyone talks to the prosecutor before trial. O.K. Guess what! The prosecutor tells me the officer was describing two separate vehicles! One went through on amber and I went through on red! WTF?! Unless he's taking a creative writing course in his spare time, what's this all about?
Prosecutor asked if I was following anyone? No. There were other vehicles going through the intersection but the closest was probably 90 feet away. Why the narrative about another vehicle?
I wanna go to trial. Prosecutor essentially acknowledges he knows the cop isn't honest. But tells me unless I can prove the cop isn't being honest it's going to be a tough road. Shaken by the revelations I thank him, think about it then return just before trial and take his offer.
From time to time I see the cop flitting around, in and out of the court room etc.
Here's the kicker. My turn in front of the justice. I look around - no cop. Well, offer's made and accepted maybe he doesn't have to hang around. Just out of curiosity I quietly ask the prosecutor, "Where's the cop?" His reply, "Oh, he "was" here." Go through the formalities, trial's over and immediately leave. 5 minutes later and a couple of miles away I swear I pass him driving his patrol car. Did I get talked into a plea because the cop had places to go?
I know, even if you have a good defense, it's still a big roll of the dice. Ultimately, I think I did O.K.
The narrative in disclosure about the second car(?) still bugs me, so does his absence at the trial.
Anybody have any thoughts?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:53 pm 
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Not sure about the narrative on the second car but with respect to the officer being released from court by the prosecutor after a plea arrangement, that's not unheard of. Usually they want the officer to stick around in case the defendant changes their mind at the last minute and pleads not guilty. If the officer's not there then the crown is not ready to proceed and has to withdraw. However if it's really busy on the road of if the officer's shift is short staffed they may just tell them to go.

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Re: officer's narrative style in disclosure
PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2010 3:11 am 
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Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 7:19 pm
Posts: 91
Location: Hamilton, ON
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Hi Mr. Peabody:


THIS IS MY OPINION AND NOT LEGAL ADVICE


Mr. Peabody wrote:
... Charged with a red light offence 144/18 ($325.00 + 3 points). Plead guilty to ignoring lane light 144/10, which I don't really understand ($115.00, no points). I think I made the right choice.


I believe you did make the right choice. If unrepresented and without court experience, I think your risk of loosing was rather high. Also, for what you say, you were not dealing with an honest prosecutor -more about that below-, which could have made it even more difficult to deal with at trial.


Mr. Peabody wrote:
...Disclosure reads: "amber light 1 m/v enters intersection", "light turns red m/v drives through intersection", farther down in the officer's notes it reads: "had 10 to 15' to stop before line indicating beginning of intersection"
...
The prosecutor tells me the officer was describing two separate vehicles! One went through on amber and I went through on red!


Does the disclosure explicitly identify 2 different vehicles, including the distances between both vehicles, speed of both vehicles and the color of the light and for how long was the light that color when the first vehicle entered the intersection?

This would have been a great cross-examination opportunity for an experienced litigator.


Mr. Peabody wrote:
... light went from green to amber just as we entered the intersection (we were closer than 10 or 15 feet but the cop was 200' away so his estimate was fairly subjective). My dispute was that we had cleared the intersection before it turned red.

> Intersection is 183 feet long, light is amber for 5 seconds, I'm travelling at 50 km/h - ergo I travelled 227.5 feet in five seconds.

> 183 + 15 (distance we were outside of intersection) = 198 feet

> 227.5 - 198 = 29.5, I had almost 30 feet to spare.


Your math is correct, but it does NOT demonstrate that you entered the intersection when the light was amber, or red, or green.

What it does demonstrate is that, IF the light had turned amber when you vehicle was at 18 feet from the intersection, it would have turned red when you were about 29.50 feet past the intersection.

To demonstrate that your vehicle entered the intersection when the light was amber, you would have had to demonstrate that the light had turned amber when your vehicle was less than 227.50 feet from the stop line at the intersection. That is assuming your constant speed of 50 k/h and an amber light duration of 5 seconds.

Mr. Peabody wrote:
...I wanna go to trial. Prosecutor essentially acknowledges he knows the cop isn't honest. But tells me unless I can prove the cop isn't being honest it's going to be a tough road. Shaken by the revelations I thank him, think about it then return just before trial and take his offer.


If that is what the prosecutor told you, the prosecutor crossed his/her ethical boundaries and further, you were misled.

You do NOT have to prove that the Officer isn't being honest. All you have to do is to demonstrate that there is a reasonable doubt, which you could do based solely on your testimony, if it appears to be credible to the justice of the peace.

Even if your testimony is not credible, it is possible that the evidence provided by the prosecution and considering the evidence entirely, the justice of the peace could still find that there is a reasonable doubt and dismiss the case.

Mr. Peabody wrote:
...Here's the kicker. My turn in front of the justice. I look around - no cop. Well, offer's made and accepted maybe he doesn't have to hang around. Just out of curiosity I quietly ask the prosecutor, "Where's the cop?" His reply, "Oh, he "was" here." Go through the formalities, trial's over and immediately leave. 5 minutes later and a couple of miles away I swear I pass him driving his patrol car. Did I get talked into a plea because the cop had places to go?

The narrative in disclosure about the second car(?) still bugs me, so does his absence at the trial. Anybody have any thoughts?


Unless you know how use the second car narrative to your advantage, which is not easy, it would have helped the prosecutor and not you. It would have enhanced the credibility of the Officer by showing good observation and detailed notes. The observation of the other vehicle is not relevant nor material to the offence.

Respectfully, I don't agree with Simon. if you had changed your mind and wanted to proceed with a trial and the officer was not present, the prosecutor could have advised the court that the Officer had left because you had agreed to resolution and request to stand the matter down to call the officer back to court. If at the end of the day the Officer didn't show up, the the prosecutor could have successfully requested an adjournment.

I have seen this happen only a couple of times. However, Simon is quite correct; officers do not leave the court up until the matter had been resolved before the justice of the peace. They leave sometimes when the deal is made by the prosecutor with a known and reputable representative (paralegal or solicitor).

Cheers.
.


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