My adventure in court, this morning, proved more than amusing.
The judge got a kick out of it, too. Smiles all around, until the end.
I went to plea mitigating circumstances, and inquired how the court’s educational task in fining me for “unlawful lane change” could serve a purpose, since, believe me, lessons learned. (Unexpectedly falling asleep, driving off the road, and totaling the car and walking out alive is a bracing experience, more than enough education for one day.) He offered me the standard deferment out, I rebuffed it, asking, instead, for a complete dismissal. There was some badinage. And the judge consulted the dour prosecutor, who had all the humanity of an autobot Bill O’Reilly simulacrum. (The prosecutor expressed surprise that I had not been cited with a negligent driving charge. I challenged the prosecutor’s logic about the plausibility of this hypothetical alternate citation, arguing that it would have been inapposite, since negligence seemed to me to imply moral culpability, which seemed a huge stretch in this case.)
I didn’t bother making the case that, on some private turnpikes, the owners of the roads don’t seek penalties so much as help people after accidents. In private enterprise, unlike under road socialism, the paternalistic impulse to discipline and punish is replaced by a more common-sense (and humane) standard. The reason for my reticence? A mitigation hearing seemed an inappropriate occasion to cry “Out of order? This court is out of order!”
The judge merely took $25 off the ticket. And went all serioso at the conclusion, when he gave a most implausible rationale for the fine — nonsensical, really. But government must be served, and the awesome dignity of traffic court must carry on. Or so say all reasonable men.
In the hall afterwards, a lawyer gave me a thumbs up, saying “good try.” More smiles at my quixotic legal gambit.