Well I got out while the sun was still shining. The Court was so accommodating. All the cases in the morning and afternoon except trials were moved to other judges. They do this elsewhere and I don’t think I have ever seen it done in Baltimore City before. It allowed me to get started before lunch and finish in the afternoon, not the evening. It also took the cooperation of the State’s Attorney’s Office to bring in help to handle the other courtrooms. This has been a common practice FOREVER in every county. I can remember judges in the City refusing to take cases from another courtroom because they were from another courtroom. No more! Having been a prosecutor in Baltimore City and practicing there for years, it was really nice to watch this happen. It takes the pressure off the trial judge, who can now focus on the trial and not on the other 18 cases that were moved this morning and the other 15 moved this afternoon.
This was the 5th trial date. Although I know lawyers who add an “appearance” fee for each postponement, I won’t do it. It penalizes people who hire a “real” lawyer, and who expect a trial when there are legitimate issue. I like trying cases so I just don’t care if I have to come back. I just reschedule my conflicts, and the courts never deny me a postponement because I ask for the postponement as soon as I get a trial notice that is a conflict. They can move the case back a week or sometimes to the same week. You want to screw around with the “system” and try to get postponements at the last minute, the judges are going to make you be in 2 places at the same time; and then the client gets rolled over on a guilty plea because the lawyer has to be elsewhere, or they pray a jury trial when it is totally unnecessary (and I am sure they want to charge more money for that). Judges know who these “scofflaws” are and they don’t get any respect during a trial either. Now to the case:
This was another MDTA video with the SFST Instructor. I have the highest regard and respect for him and I hope he feels the same way even though this is the second not guilty in a month. As he said to me this morning, “I have what I have.” The prosecutor is relatively new but very sharp and knows how to try a case. he was assisted by my “Chico Marx” prosecutor (see a previous BLOG). My client’s driving was not great but it was raining. His physical coordination was excellent. He had his license and registration waiting for the officer when he approached the driver’s side window. He exited without a problem, walked without a problem and displayed no signs of impairment before the SFSTs began. He was near perfect on the walk and turn and according to the police officer “rock solid” on the one leg stand test. He was articulate and spoke well. After his arrest and on the UNRECORDED ride to the station, He was “argumentative but polite.” Now the argumentative was in the police car and and officer could have “gotten away with” testifying that my client had acted like a complete asshole to him. My client did not and the officer was 100% honest, and in fact went out of his way to add that he was polite.
I digress again. As we came out of the 7-11 across the street where we got ice tea for lunch, a red neck mother fucker walking across the parking lot looked over at a couple of Baltimore City police cars and yelled I hate all cops. Readers of this Blog have seen me call out police who lie. They have also seen me praise police. The MDTA officer in this case bends over backwards to be fair because that is the kind of person he is. There is not a single word that he says on the witness stand that you can ever question, whether or not it is something on the video. You take what he says and you apply the law to it. The hillbilly in the parking lot should only hope that if he ever needs police assistance, that this officer would show up to help.
Based on the excellent performance on the fields, the observable normal motor coordination, and mental acuity, the judge had a reasonable doubt and found my client not guilty. The officer left the building after he testified because he needed to go home and sleep; and he did not hear the verdict. As he walked by, we smiled and shook hands, and I told him get some sleep and then go out and get me some new clients. He will! Meanwhile his presence on the highway makes it safer for all of us. And when he gets me some new business, we will back at it again because when the bell rings that is how we do it.