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  • If you admit to any speed higher then the speed limit in court - The Judge can and will find you guilty of that speed. Because it came from your own mouth.
  • It is up to the prosecution to prove what speed you were doing. If you shed legal doubt as to that speed then stop. You have won. Anything further can come back and bite you.
  • Never take a document at it's face value. Test it to see if the document is in fact for the specific unit used and not some other unit. Always use the Tipmra Verification Defense whenever a unit is introduced.
  • If someone makes a statement attesting to some fact always use the How do you know it is so questions.

 

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This is an actual transcript of a actual trial where the defendant lost. The defense although aggressively fought was poorly planned and executed without a knowledge. This is typical of most defenses where the defendant, although prepared for battle does not know what to do, what the laws are and how to make the evidence presented inadmissible.

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, CIVIL DIVISION

Plaintiff, No. 2378 CL 96

vs. Summary Appeal

JANOS DOHANICS Hearing Date: January 27, 1997

Defendant. (Blank)

Reported by: John Andrejcik Official Court Reporter

Trial Judge: Hon. J. Warren Watson

COUNSEL OF RECORD: For the Commonwealth: Nicole Ciafre, Esq.

For the Defendant: Pro Se

 

COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COMPUTER-AIDED TRANSCRIPTION

 

(Morning session, January 27, 1997.)

 

THE CLERK: CL No. 2378, Jonas Dohanics.

 

MS. CIAFRE: The Commonwealth would call Officer Rick. SCOTT J. RICK, a witness called on behalf of the Commonwealth, having been previously duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

 

DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MS. CIAFRE:

 

  1. Q Officer, can you state your name and spell your last name for the court reporter?

  2. A Scott J. Rick, R-i-c-k.

  3. Q How are you employed, sir?

  4. A By the Pine/Marshall/Bradford Woods Police at the present time.

  5. Q On 10/11 of 1996 did you issue Citation No. A, as in apple, 0144875-3?

  6. A Yes, I did.

  7. Q To whom did you issue that Citation?

  8. A To the gentleman next to you, Mr. Dohanics, in the gray suit.

  9. Q Why did you issue him that Citation?

  10. A On the date of the violation, October 11, 1996, 3:00 o'clock, I was monitoring through Fort Pride, Whistling Plains address when I had the occasion to observe a 1991 Toyota sedan, gray in color, go across my two references which were  two painted white lines, at an average speed of 66 in a 35 mile-an-hour zone.

  11. Q And how is it that you ascertained his speed, using which device?

  12. A Vascar-Plus.

  13. Q Do you have the certification for that device in court with you today, Officer?

  14. A Yes, I do.

  15. Q Does it, indeed, indicate the date it was certified on?

  16. A On October 21.

  17. Q Of 1996?

  18. A Yes.

  19. Q At which testing station?

  20. A Station EM-2?

  21. MS. CIAFRE: I'd offer the certification for the Vascar unit as Commonwealth Exhibit 1, Your Honor.

  22. THE COURT: Admitted.

  23. BY MS. CIAFRE:

  24. Q And you also have in court with you today, Officer, a certificate of your proficiency in operating the Vascar device?

  25. A Yes, I do.

  26.  MS. CIAFRE: I'd offer that as Exhibit 2, Your Honor.

  27. THE COURT: Admitted .

  28. BY MS. CIAFRE:

  29.  Q And this was in Allegheny County?

  30. A Yes, it was.

  31.  MS. CIAFRE: I have nothing further. Open for cross-examination.

  32.  THE COURT: You may ask questions if you wish.

  33. THE DEFENDANT: Yes. Let me ask, how far -

  34. THE COURT: What is your name?

  35. THE DEFENDANT: My name is Janos, J-a-n-o-s, last name is spelled D-o-h-a-n-i-c-s.

  36. THE COURT: You're the Respondent here, okay. Go ahead. You can ask the officer questions. Keep your voice up so we can all hear.

  37. THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

  38. THE COURT: If you wish. You don't have to.

  39. THE DEFENDANT: Thank you.

  40.  CROSS-EXAMINATION BY THE DEFENDANT:

  41. Q May I ask, Officer, how long have you been a police officer?

  42. A Two and-a-half years.

  43. Q Two and-a-half years?

  44. A Yes.

  45. Q I understand, is it correct that you have received training in Vascar?

  46. A Yes, I have.

  47. Q Could you tell me how long you have been operating Vascar?

  48. A  About two and-a-half years.

  49. Q Could you briefly describe the operation of Vascar?

  50. A The vehicle traverses across the first reference point, which is a painted white line. I throw a toggle switch that goes across the distance; and when the vehicle goes across, I throw the toggle switch down. It gives me the average speed of theVehicle at that time.

  51. Q Okay. So did you just say that it's not the car that you are observing going through these markers that trips anything, it has to be a human input?

  52. A Yes. I use my finger and observe the vehicle.

  53. Q Did I understand correctly that you were parked at the time when you observed the car in question?

  54. A Yes, I was.

  55. Q Would you say that if the Vascar operator's reflexes are off, would the Vascar reading, speed reading still be accurate?

  56. THE WITNESS: I can't answer that, Your

  57.  Honor. As far as the information -- I can't answer as far as my speed timing device. I believe I am correct and true to the ability of my use of the Vascar.

  58.  BY THE DEFENDANT:

  59. Q That was not the question, sir. The question was, do you believe that if the Vascar operator's reflexes are off, or not paying close attention, will the speed reading still be accurate?

  60.  THE WITNESS: Your Honor, Your Honor, I was not off. I was paying attention. I had my contact vehicle which was the defendant's vehicle.

  61.  BY THE DEFENDANT:

  62. Q Officer, have you had your reaction time measured ever?

  63. A I don't understand what you mean.

  64. Q When you observe a car going through the markers, do you immediately push the switch that you were talking about?

  65. A When I seen the shadow of your vehicle go across the line I activated the device.

  66. Q Would you say that you push - you will switch or operate the switch exactly at a time when you see the shadow or the car, whatever, crossing the marker?

  67. A Yes.

  68. Q You would say then there is no time between actually the time -- the car crossing your marker and your reaction?

  69.  A There is no time.

  70.  THE COURT: Let's assume there is a reaction time we're talking about. Why don't we ask you a question. How fast were you going? Do you intend to testify?

  71.  THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor, I would like - I would like to continue cross-examining them.

  72. THE COURT: You want to continue?

  73. THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.

  74. THE COURT: All right. I'm apparently trying to help you, but you can continue if you wish. Go ahead.

  75. THE DEFENDANT: I would like to offer into evidence -- may I?

  76. THE COURT: You may. Anything you wish to do.

  77. THE DEFENDANT: -- a scientific study that would indicate that -- will you, please?

  78. THE COURT: Go ahead with your cross-examination. Then you can do that in your case.

  79. THE DEFENDANT: Okay.

  80. MS. CIAFRE: Do you have anymore questions of the officer?

  81.  BY THE DEFENDANT:

  82. Q What was the time of -- how many seconds did you time the car traveling within your markers?

  83. A I have it on my Citation. 1.54.

  84. Q May I ask, what was the distance between your markers?

  85. A I have .0188, which is -- it has on here as far as that's 100 feet.

  86.  THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor --

  87.  MS. CIAFRE: Are you done asking questions?

  88. THE DEFENDANT: No, I'm not.

  89. MS. CIAFRE: You have to keep with the question period. If you want to talk to the Judge, your question period is over.

  90. THE DEFENDANT: May I return to ask additional questions?

  91. THE COURT: Go right ahead. You're asking questions. Go ahead.

  92. THE DEFENDANT: Then I would like to have - well, at this point I would like to ask you, Your Honor, Your Honor to recognize Mr. Andrew Tepper, who is a trained mathematician, whom I would like respectfully to ask you to recognize him as an expert in mathematics in order to point out that there is -

  93. THE COURT: Let me explain the procedure here. See, they present a case. Then you cross-examine. You try to destroy that case.

  94. THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

  95. THE COURT: When they rest, then you present whatever you wish to. You will be able to present this witness and establish he's an expert. You can do that. The whole issue is whether you are finished asking questions of the officer. If you're finished with that, then we'll work on the other.

  96. THE DEFENDANT: Then I'm finished, Your Honor.

  97. THE COURT: All right, fine. Do you have any rebuttal?

  98.  RE-DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MS. CIAFRE:

  99. Q Officer, you were - in order to get this electronic Speed Timing Device Certificate of Proficiency, you had to attend a course on how to operate that unit?

  100. A Yes, I did.

  101. Q Built into the Vascar unit is there time for human error and delays?

  102. A Yes.

  103. Q And is the Vascar an approved timing device by Penn. DOT?

  104. A Yes.

  105. Q This was a road thereby regulated by Penn. DOT, in the Commonwealth?

  106. A Yes, it is.

  107.  MS. CIAFRE: I have nothing further.

  108. Commonwealth rests.

  109. THE COURT: Now, sir, you have the opportunity to present whatever witnesses including yourself that you wish to.

  110. THE DEFENDANT: Thank you. I then would like to ask Your Honor to recognize Mr. Andrew Tepper whose qualifications -

  111. THE COURT: Well, you have to have him testify to his qualifications. Then the Court will rule whether he is an expert or not.

  112. THE DEFENDANT: Thank you.

  113. THE WITNESS: Ready for me?

  114. THE COURT: I guess he's --

  115. ANDREW TEPPER,

  116.  a witness called on behalf of the defendant, having been previously duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

  117.  DIRECT EXAMINATION: BY THE DEFENDANT:

  118. Q Will you, please, state your name?

  119. A Okay. My name is Andy Tepper, and my qualifications are, I have a Bachelor of Science in applied math from Carnegie Mellon, 1989.

  120. Q Would you say, Mr. Tepper, you are - would you say, Mr. Tepper, that you are familiar with and understand mathematical questions pertaining to this case such as means, and distribution, and standard error?

  121. A Yes. I can provide testimony, or I can do the kinds of mathematical calculations that might show what the error is, if his - if the officer's timing was off by some fixed amount. I can calculate how that would affect -- or what the range of the average speed might be.

  122. Q Okay.

  123. A Given a distance of 100 feet.

  124.  THE DEFENDANT: Thank you.

  125. THE COURT: Are you finished?

  126. THE DEFENDANT: No.

  127. THE COURT: Okay. Well, continue to qualify him.

  128. THE WITNESS: I think I'm finished.

  129. THE DEFENDANT: Would you accept his qualifications?

  130. THE COURT: Wait a minute. You have a right to try to qualify him. Then the District Attorney will try to show that he doesn't have qualifications.

  131. MS. CIAFRE: Your Honor, I would object to him being an, quote, unquote, expert witness. The fact that he has a BS in mathematics doesn't make him an expert. I have a BS in business administration. However. I do not prefer to be an expert. He has no Curriculum Vitae. I was not provided with an expert report.

  132. The fact that he graduated from school with a degree in math, in the Commonwealth's opinion, does not make him an expert.

  133. THE DEFENDANT: May I rebut that, Your Honor? The questions I intend to ask Mr. Tepper do not require more skill than a high school student to answer. It's the mathematical questions to decide --

  134. THE COURT: Is it something you could testify to yourself?

  135. THE DEFENDANT: That is perfectly correct,

  136. Your Honor.

  137. THE COURT: Well, then, you don't need an expert.

  138. THE DEFENDANT: I would still like to have him testify.

  139. THE COURT: Well, you don't get to like to have. If it doesn't require expert testimony, it's not allowed. If it requires it, then, of course, you will want to explain to me something I couldn't catch on to.

  140. THE DEFENDANT: I would have to say part of it I could testify, part of it I could not testify to, depending on how much I have to go, Your Honor.

  141. THE COURT: Ask him whatever you want.

  142. THE DEFENDANT: Thank you, Your Honor.

  143.  BY THE DEFENDANT:

  144. Q Mr. Tepper, did you just hear that officer state that the distance over which he observed the car in question traveling was 100 feet, and that the elapsed time was 100 -- 1.55 seconds?

  145. A I think he said --

  146. Q Could you, please, tell us, what is the appropriate calculation for the speed reading based -- is it possible to make a speed reading on this data?

  147. A Yes. You can take that and convert it to a speed reading.

  148. Q Would you, please, do that?

  149. A Okay. It was --

  150.  THE WITNESS: Give me a second to do the calculation, Your Honor. That's how many feet per second. That's 43.98 miles an hour. That would be with no error. That would be 44 miles an hour.

  151. THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor, based on what the officer has testified to, that is the distance and the time he observed this car in question traveling, according to the expert to give a speed reading of 43 --

  152. THE WITNESS: 44 miles an hour.

  153.  BY THE DEFENDANT:

  154. Q 44 miles an hour?

  155. A With no error.

  156.  THE DEFENDANT: With no error; and the officer also testified that the car in question was traveling at 66 miles per hour. I would respectfully ask you, Your Honor, to dismiss this case because the officer himself is offering conflicting testimony. My expert has just proven that the facts and the conclusion that the officer has made don't add up.

  157. THE COURT: That assumes I believe him and don't believe the officer.

  158. THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor, if I may, the officer stated a fact, that is that distance was 100 feet. MS. CIAFRE: Okay, Your Honor, are we going to argument, or am I going to have an opportunity to cross-examine the expert witness?

  159. THE COURT: Cross-examine the expert.

  160.  CROSS-EXAMINATION: BY MS. CIAFRE:

  161. Q Sir, how is it the defendant in this case I believe made some statements to you, I do not exactly know what his question was to you, that your answer was 44 miles

  162. per hour? How did you arrive at 44 miles per hour?

  163. A I took the number of feet, which, was 100, divided by the number of seconds, which was 1.55; and then I multiplied that by 3,600 over 5280, which is the ratio of seconds in an hour to feet in a mile.

  164. Q And you arrived at 44 miles per hour?

  165. A Correct.

  166. Q So it's your expert testimony that it would have been impossible for this man to have been going any faster than 44 miles per hour when this officer clocked him?

  167. A No. What I'm saying is, given those numbers that the officer stated, if the time was exact, if that's the time it really took him to travel that distance, his speed is exactly 44 miles an hour.

  168.  MS. CIAFRE: I have nothing further, Judge.

  169. THE COURT: Okay.

  170. THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor -

  171. THE COURT:' What are your calculations made on?

  172. THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor, I can only go on what I have on my Citation as far as the time and seconds.

  173. THE COURT: 15 minutes ago I would have given you five miles over.

  174. THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor, if I may --

  175. THE COURT: Go ahead.

  176. THE DEFENDANT: I honestly did some legal research, and according to my research --

  177. MS. CIAFRE: Your Honor, we would offer him a plea to 44 miles an hour over the posted speed limit, since he himself said that must be how fast he was going.

  178. THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor, the Pennsylvania Court 75, paragraph 3368 (C)(4) says, no person may be convicted of evidence obtained throughout the use of devices authorized by paragraphs (2) and (3) unless the speed reported is six or more miles per hour in excess of the legal speed limited. Furthermore, no person may be convicted of evidence obtained through the use of devices authorized by paragraphs (2) and (3) in an area where a legal speed limit is less than 55 miles per hour if the speed is reported less than ten miles per hour in excess of the legal speed limit. I would just respectfully ask Your Honor that based on the officer's own testimony, that is the facts that he gave as to the time and distance, and based on the mathematician's testimony, there's just only one speed reading possible, with one correct speed reading possible with a certain time and distance; and as a result of the calculations, it's 44 miles per hour.

  179. The Statute says that the officer couldn't even have stopped me because it was less than ten miles per hour.

  180. THE COURT: That's not accurate. The Statute doesn't say that. It says less than six miles.

  181. THE DEFENDANT: No, no, ten miles, Your Honor.

  182. THE COURT: What's he talking about?

  183. THE DEFENDANT: If the speed limit was less than 55.

  184. THE COURT: He couldn't stop you?

  185. THE DEFENDANT: No, no. It's - I don't know. I just read it, Your Honor.

  186. THE COURT: The point is this. You have said -- your witness said you were going 43.9 miles an hour. You're in violation of the law. I'm going to find you guilty of 43, over 35. You have a right to appeal to the Superior Court.

  187. THE DEFENDANT: Thank you, Your Honor.

(Hearing concluded.)

 

 

Commentary - The Defendant could have won

 

 

WOW! confusing to say the least. The defendant had no plan of attack. He did manage to prove that he was going 44 MPH rather then 60. the Judge correctly found the defendant guilty of going 44 MPH. The Defendant proved it himself, How Dumb.

 

All the defendant had to do is mathematically show that 66 MPH would have required a reading of 1.33 seconds (the math for these calculations is in the Tipmra). The officer testified to a time of 1.55 seconds. There was no reason whatsoever to prove that 1.33 seconds equates to 44 MPH, all he had to prove was that 1.33 seconds does not equate to 66 MPH. I hope you understand the difference.

 

But there were other endless missed opportunities as well. Although this trial did not follow the Tipmra format we can inject certain Tipmra defenses that would have turned the tide.

 

  • In items 13 to 22 a certificate is admitted. The Defendant should have used the Verification Defense on that certificate. The chance is more then 80% that with the verification defense the certificate would have become inadmissible and the trial would have ended right there. Because the prosecution introduced the certificate it was obvious to the court that the certificate was essential to the foundation of the evidence.

 

  • In items 45 to 48 the defendant is questioning the officers training. Had he read the Tipmra he would have known to ask for a pocket card that the officer is supposed to have verifying that he is qualified to visually estimate speed. Now that card does not qualify the officer as a speed measuring device but inmost States and in PA it is a requirement for Vascar. It is obvious that the officer did not have it because otherwise he would have presented it on direct examination where the prosecutor was asking questions and laying foundation to the evidence. Again the trial could have ended right there.

 

  • In item 85 he lets the witness testify that the distance between the markers is 100 feet. Had he read the Tipmra he would have asked how the 100 feet was determined and if the officer measured the distance himself. If he did not measure it himself and use a DOT approved tape measure the case would have ended right there.

 

  • At item 105 he could have asked the CFR Defense questions. By asking for the Engineering Speed Survey which the officer obviously did not have the trial could have ended right there as well.

 

In short, had this defendant used well planned VASCAR DEFENSE from the tipmra this trial would have never made it to the end. Even without using the Tipmra format this defendant missed four opportunities to have the case dismissed and a fifth one if you include the incorrect timing which he used incorrectly.

 

 

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Often Imitated but Never Duplicated