Friday, July 19, 2013

Charlie: Beating The Rap

Charlie: Beating the Rap

Charlie's first auto accident happened when he was 85 or so.  He was driving in Bigtown, had stopped for a traffic light and proceeded when the light changed.  His car was struck by a pregnant young woman who ran the red light while talking on her cell phone.  Being a gentleman, and unaware of the protocol controlling accident investigation, he moved his car and his bumper, torn off by the other auto, so that other traffic could proceed.

When the police arrived and examined the scene, Charlie was, falsely, found to be at fault and was ticketed.  When I heard of the accident, I suggested he pay the fine and forget the whole thing.  He declared he was not at fault and was going to fight the ticket in court.  His greatest fear was what might happen to his car insurance rates.  In the months before the trial we discussed this several times.  Because I had never seen anyone successfully fight a ticket, I repeatedly advised him to pay the fine. He repeatedly refused and was determined to argue his innocence.  I saw a disaster in the making.  I saw a big lawsuit for damages to the unborn child and the mother, based on the courts finding of fault.  Charlie saw complete exoneration.

He consulted a number of people about court proceedings and discovered what needed to be done.  He asked me to go with him for his trial.  On the appointed day, we both dressed in our best business suits and went to face the music.  The court dress code was obviously casual.  The judge was in shirtsleeves and the prosecutor wore jeans, as did everyone but ourselves.

As each case was called and judged, it became clear this was a "hanging" judge.  There was no mercy or leniency shown to any defendant.  I was getting really nervous.  Then the bailiff called Charlie's case.  We both stood as the charges were read... then the prosecutor interrupted the bailiff and told the judge the charges had been dropped.  No reason was given.

With this opening Charlie was left to find his own explanation, always given when the story is retold: When the court saw the defendant and his high-powered lawyer, they quickly decided not to tangle with the pair.


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