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Speeding Defense Detective

 

  • Remember the old adage. Be careful of what you ask for, you might just get it.
  • DISCOVERY - Part of the pre-trial litigation process during which each party requests relevant information and documents from the other side in an attempt to "discover" pertinent facts. Generally discovery devices include depositions, interogatories, requests for admissions, document production requests and requests for inspection.
  • Deposition--a proceeding in which a witness or party is asked to answer questions orally under oath before a court reporter.
  • Interrogatories--written questions sent by one party to the other party for the latter to answer in writing under oath.
  • Request for admission--a request to a party that he admit certain facts. One party sends the other a request for admission so that basic issues the parties agree upon can be resolved and not have to be proven if the parties go to trial.
  • Request for production of documents--a request to a party to hand over certain defined documents. In family law cases, parties often request from each other bank statements, pay stubs and other documents showing earnings, assets and debts.
  • Request for inspection--a request by a party to look at tangible items (other than writings) in the possession or control of the other party. Items to be inspected include houses, cars, appliances and virtually any other physical item.
  • Subpoena--an order telling a witness to appear in court or at a deposition. A subpoena is issued by the court, and if the witness fails to comply, he can be held in contempt of court.
  • Subpoena duces tecum--an order telling a witness to turn over certain documents to a specific party or to bring them to a scheduled deposition. A subpoena duces tecum is issued by the court, and if the witness fails to comply, he can be held in contempt.
  • The scope of information obtainable through discovery is quite broad and not limited to what can be used in a trial. Federal courts and most state courts allow a party to discover any information 'reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.' Because of this broad standard, parties often disagree about what information must be exchanged and what may be kept confidential. These disputes are resolved through court rulings on discovery motions.

     

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First, a warning!!!


Discovery is a legal term and a legal process. If you are not certain about trying it, GET A LAWYER. They get paid big bucks because they have gone through law school to learn  how Discovery works, how to use it, when to use it, etc... Requesting excessive discovery is almost certainly going to make the prosecutor aggressive towards you and you may lose any element of surprise at trial. (some sites advocate exhaustive discovery to wear down the prosecutor, the police and the courts, try that at your own peril. I don't recommend it, for good reason.)

 

In the Tipmra there is the CFR Defense. It is an addition to the Basic Tipmra, If you intend to use the CFR Defense along with the Tipmra, Discovery is recommended. However it should be limited to the CFR material only as explained in the Tipmra. (CFR refers to the Code of Federal Regulations. This is the main defense postulated at ticketkiller.com. The expanded and refined version of this defense is available only in The Tipmra. It is not the main Tipmra Defense, only an add-on for those who wish to use it alongside the main defenses.)

A Request for Discovery is basically a formal request asking the Court to allow you to see the evidence which the prosecution has against you and which they plan to introduce at the time of your trial. At a criminal hearing, there is a requirement that both the prosecution and the defense must "share" information which is to be introduced as evidence. This allows time for both sides to prepare and to refute any evidence which either side might consider to be incorrect, inadmissible, tainted, etc..

Basically, it makes sure that both sides have a level playing field and that the primary goal of the trial will occur... namely, to get to the truth. So, to help with this, both sides "agree" to openly share all information about the case. This is why when one side calls an expert witness, the other side knows and is ready to refute the expert's testimony by introducing their own expert and by attempting to exploit weaknesses in the other's testimony. Discovery is the court process which governs and defines what is and is not subject to rules of Discovery. It also governs what happens if some item was not submitted through the rules of discovery.

 

But, Discovery is not automatic in Traffic court. In fact, it's likely that Discovery might not even apply. However, that doesn't mean you can't still submit a request. Go ahead. If it is denied, you have lost nothing and have shown that the prosecution fears to show you what they (don't) know. if it is granted, it can be a very powerful help in preparing your case. In fact, if the evidence against you appears to be too strong to fight,  you can still decide to plea or even to pay the fine in advance.

Discovery MUST be submitted in a timely fashion.!!! If it is not, you are giving the prosecution and the judge a perfect excuse to disallow Discovery. If you give them an "out", they will take it. By using the court's own rules (and lack of knowledge about them), you are able to leverage great power over a situation where you would otherwise be a powerless pawn.

Discovery should be requested no sooner than five working days after you get your ticket. And no later than two weeks before your initial hearing/trial. Any sooner, and the prosecution can claim that the ticket was not yet in the system and so couldn't honor your request. Any later and they can claim (rightfully) that they did not have time to prepare and gather the evidence. Keep in mind, Discovery is normally supposed to be granted or responded to in five working days from receipt of the request. But, there is no requirement that it be honored at all. If it isn't, at the initial hearing, ask the judge for an Order to Compel Discovery. Let the judge know that you have sent a Request (show him a copy) and that you sent it with a return receipt and that the receipt was signed. Most likely, they will be somewhat prepared and will either deny your request, honor it right then, or they will be so surprised that they won't know what to do. (fun!)

 

 

Discovery Sample

 

Here is approximately what it should look like... (send a copy to the prosecutor, one to the police department, and if you wish to be thorough... send one to the traffic court, and the police officer himself)
 

NOTE: Some sites claim a unique patented and copyright protected strategy based on discovery. The form letters they furnish are very similar to the one here for free.


Mr. Who Cares, Esquire
City of We Want Your Money
1010 Take Your Dough Dr.
We Want Your Money, MO. 66666-6666

February 12th, 2000 Make sure you date it!!!


I, __________________________ , do hereby request the following information in regards to Missouri Uniform Complaint and Summons No. 9999999-99 issued on January 28th, 2000 by P.O. Dunce (DSN 47). Change the State, ticket number, officer name, etc...




#1: All notes, records, and log files made by P.O. Dunce (DSN 47) in regards to the issuance of MUCS No. 9999999-99.

#2: Calibration records for any speed detection equipment used by P.O. Dunce in regards to the issuance of MUCS No. 9999999-99.
For a Red Light ticket, change this to "All studies regarding the need for a traffic control signal located at the intersection of (street & road)." If the ticket was by pace or VASCAR or photo radar, this should cover that, also. This is an extremely important item, as it will show any potential errors in equipment and/or procedure. If the prosecution raises an objection and the judge grants (or is concidering) Discovery, you can counter by stating that the information is public record, should be available via any Freedom of Information request, and surely should thus be allowed for a criminal hearing.

#3: The Operator’s Manuals for any speed detection equipment used by P.O. Dunce in regards to the issuance of MUCS No. 9999999-99.
If there is an objection, that same thing applies here. It's public record, and besides, both items should be kept and used by the officer in his duties. Make your arguments common sense and it will make the prosecutor's look pathetic.

#4: The We Want Your Money Police Department regulations and guidelines regarding the use, operation, and policies for the use of speed detection equipment.
This, of course, assumes they even have regulations. One police officer I work with mentioned he has never seen the regulations and never seen his unit's Operator's Manual. They are locked in the Chief's office for safe keeping. I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe for nearly a minute. He didn't quite understand why I found it amusing.

#5: All engineering reports and studies performed in the determination of the posted limit, to include, but not limited to, the most recent 85th percentile speed measurement and any collsion data used in the determination of the posted limit. For a Red Light ticket, change this to "All timing, maintainance, and engineering records for the traffic control signal located at the intersection of (street & road). This might be the most important point of your case. The prosecution will pull every dirty trick in the book to block this one. The same "public information" argument applies. Plus, if you don't mind letting the cat out of the bag, you can add that this report is required by Federal law. Be sure you know why...

#6: A listing of traffic tickets issued by P.O. Dunce for the month of January 2000, to include: date and time issued, alleged violation, and disposition, (if determined).
Again, sure to get an objection. Same reply... FOI. But, in this case, you can let it slide much more easily. This is just a ruse to get the prosecutor into a "just another idiot hoping to show it's about quota" mode. If he's expecting you to fight based on quotas and "he didn't show me the radar" defenses, he'll be that much more surprised and undefended when you start hitting him with "Federal law requires the speed limit to be set to..." and "the officer's Operator's Manual requires... but the officer failed to do so..."

#7: A total tally of all traffic tickets issued by the We Want Your Money Police Department for the month of January 2000, to include: date issued, alleged violation, the DSN of the issuing officer, and disposition, (if determined).


If there are any fees related to this request, please send an itemized bill for said fees to: Your name and address... not mine...
 

Michael A. Stone Jr.
XXXXXX
XXXXXXX.
 

I have enclosed a self addressed stamped envelope if such a need arises. If there is further need for contact in which written correspondence is insufficient, please call (XXX) XXX – XXXX.

Thank you in advance for your courtesy. Very truly yours,

Michael A. Stone Jr.





By Certified Mail No. You ARE going to send it via certified, return receipt, mail... aren't you?

Make sure that you have included at least one method of contact, so that the excuse that you aren't reachable can't be used. More contact methods are better. You might want to include (as I did) a line requesting a bill for any fees. You might even want to include a line that states to make contact prior to performing any actions which lead to fees over a certain amount (like $25), to ensure that you aren't billed out the "yin-yang." Make sure to ask the bill sent, if any is itemized so that you know exactly what you are paying for. State law provides VERY specific limits for costs of copying and for work performed in gathering such information.

Also, keep in mind, that while Discovery might not apply, you can also request the information via a "Freedom of Information Act" type of request. While rules of Discovery don't apply, FOI ALWAYS applies, at least to some degree. For example, in Missouri, where this request was sent, items #6 and 7 were denied. if I wished to push the issue, the Missouri law called the "Sunshine Act", which is basically a "FOI act" law, states that I, as a citizen, can request the ticket information at any time and without need of a reason. As it happened, the prosecutor allowed items 1-4, (and I didn't ask for #5, that was stupid!) but objected to 6 and 7. But, the officer's notes, combined with the radar operations manual, provided more than enough to prove my case.

The request can be changed to request other information, more information, or whatever you need. The exact format is also not terribly important, but if you can find an official form used for your state, use it instead (of course). The fact that you are sending a request at all will most likely be met with major amounts of surprise. Most courts and most traffic attorneys are used to dealing with people who have no clue as to what Discovery is. Sometimes they can't remember it themselves. So, when they get clubbed with it... they are stunned. Which is how you always want to deal with them... keep them on the defensive.

 

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