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Case #0007

Event
Sequence
Title Description Document(s) / Photo(s)
01 Notice To Appear

Received a citation for an "unsafe lane change" violation from a CHP Officer of San Jose CHP.
Officer told me that I "almost" hit the green mini-van in front of me after a lane change.
I kept listening without any facial expression, and without saying a word.

Then, Officer figured out I was not going to admit any guilt, and Officer asked me,
"Are you in a hurry ?"
"No, I was driving safely!"

Then, Officer told me that, "I got the license plate of that green mini-van,
and I am going to take a statement from the driver!"
I kept silent.

Officer then went back to the CHP vehicle, and wrote me a ticket.
I then, request my case to be handled by the County Seat courthouse.
Officer had no idea what County Seat is, and replied, "Yes, you may contest your ticket!"
I replied, "No, I meant, County Seat, NOT "CONTEST"!!!"
Then, I explained the whole story what County Seat.

Still, Officer did not understand, and said, "As long as you sign the ticket, I am fine."

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02 County Seat Request

I signed my ticket, and wrote "COUNTY SEAT PLEASE!" next to my signature.

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03 Courtesy Notice

Received my Courtesy Notice.

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04 Informal Discovery Request (IDR)

Sent out my IDR to both District Attorney and the CHP.
The IDR is similar to the examples in this website.

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05 IDR Response from CHP

According to the response, the only witness to testify for my case will be the Officer.
Also, from the back page of the police notes, there are two statements:
"I MADE A SAFE LANE CHANGE !" (from Mr. MC)
"ALMOST HIT ME!" (from the driver of the green mini-van)

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06 IDR Response from District Attorney (DA)

According to the response, the only witness to testify for my case will be the Officer.

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07 Arraignment request

Requested an arraignment at the clerk office in the court house.

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08 Arraignment

During an arraignment, I requested a Change of Venue to the County Seat,
and my request was GRANTED.
But, I totally forgot to request for Trial By Written Declaration (TBWD).
The Judge/Commissioner setup a court trial date/time for me immediately afterward.
And, when I was trying to request for TBWD, the court Officer told me that your session has ended,
and you must take the court document, and leave now.

I also typed up a formal Motion for Change of Venue to the County Seat.
I did not have a chance to use it during an arraignment since my request was granted immediately,
and the Judge did not ask for such formal document. However, I am attaching such motion here for your reference.

LESSON LEARNED: Before an arraignment, write down exactly what to say and request. Don't miss anything since once the session has ended, the court Officer will ask you to leave immediately. And, it will be "almost" impossible to request for anything after the session has ended. You may write to the Judge afterward, but, it must be a "timely" (on time) request.
 
LESSON LEARNED: During an arraignment, if the Judge ask you to setup a court date, you should set it to as late as possible, but without passing forty-five (45) days (Speedy Trial) if you had not waived time. For example, try NOT to setup a trial date which is one or two weeks from the arraignment date. It should be at least five (5) weeks from the arraignment date. If the Judge deny your request, you should explain to the Judge that:
"While I am not waiving time, I do need enough time to prepare for my trial."
 

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Motion for Change Of Venue:
[View] [PDF]
 
09 TBWD request

Since I realized that I have made a huge mistake by NOT requesting for TBWD during an arraignment (or at the right time),
I tried to make it up by writing a letter to the Judge or Commissioner to request for it. I also CC to the Officer.
By the time I request for it, I have only one week left which is way too rush.

My request for TBWD was noticed at my trial as you can see:
"DEF NOTE - REQ TRIAL BY WRITTEN DECL."
But, such request will be denied since the Judge would not notice that until the trial.

LESSON LEARNED: Any request to the Judge must be made at least three (3) weeks before the trial.
 
LESSON LEARNED: One MUST request for TBWD at least two (2) weeks before an arraignment. According to the traffic court clerk, one may request TBWD during an arraignment. But, you have to be very lucky to get that request. The reason is that if the Judge deny your request for TBWD during an arraignment, the Judge will then immediately setup a court trial date/time for you. That's bad!
 

Letter to Request for TBWD:
[View] [PDF]
 
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10 Motion to Suppress Evidence

I knew that I have no evidence to proof my innocence, and my argument will be too weak
that the Judge will for sure find me guilty at the trial.
So, I must do more to contest this ticket.

Base on the Informal Discovery Request (IDR), I notice that the green mini-van driver was un-identified.
Therefore, any statements from that driver can be considered as hearsay.
I then filed a Motion to Suppress those hearsay evidence.

I asked a person to serve my paper (motion) to both the DA and CHP.
Attached an image of the Return Receipt and Certified Mail Receipt.
Also, I personally filed this Motion at the clerk office.

LESSON LEARNED: Any motion must be filed at least three (3) weeks before the motion hearing date or the trial. Failure to do so will be considered as "un-timely" (too late) by the Judge or Procecutor.
 
LESSON LEARNED: Never setup a motion hearing date/time right before or during the trial. The Judge will most likely to deny your motion, and find you guilty at the trial right afterward.
 
LESSON LEARNED: It cost nothing to file a motion at the traffic court.
 
LESSON LEARNED: Any thing you filed with the court clerk MUST be endorsed with a court stamp with date on it to proof that you have filed your request, and such request is, again, a "timely" request.
 

Motion to Suppress Evidence:
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11 Peremptory Challenge

I knew that I have filed an "un-timely" Motion to Suppress Evidence, the Judge will most likely deny it during my trial, and then find my guilty since my argument is too weak. In order to make this motion "timely", I may delay the court trial date.

Since the court trial date/time has been setup during my arraignment, I have no excuse to delay my trial date. So, I visited the court room for which my case has been assigned, and figured out the name of the "presiding" Judge, and then, filed a Peremptory Challenge at the clerk office at least five (5) days before the trial to be timely.

LESSON LEARNED: Besides the Judge, there is a Commissioner who can also be the Judge. While filing a Peremptory Challenge, I would file two (2) Peremptory Challenge to challenge both the Judge and the Commissioner. Only one of them will be in the trial, so, you will NOT miss any of them.
 
In case none of them showed up, another Judge (or a Pro Tem Judge) has showed up, file this Peremptory Challenge immediately before the trial started. (before the first witness sworn in, or before the Officer's testimony begins, etc.)
In case the Judge asked WHY you were filing two Peremptory Challenge(s), you may kindly replies:

  • I was not sure which Judge will be at my trial.
  • I want to file a timely request at least five (5) days before the trial.
  • I know that a Defendant may only have one (1) Peremptory Challenge per trial. However, only one Peremptory Challenge of the two already filed will be valid.

Peremptory Challenge (blank form):
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12 Trial

Fighting or contesting a ticket is like playing a Poker game. You do need to be prepared, and have a good hand.
With my "Motion to Suppress Evidence" filed, it is not a good hand since it is an "un-timely" request.
But, my "Peremptory Challenge" is a timely request. However, I only filed one Peremptory Challenge, and on the trial date, the Commissioner showed up instead for whom was NOT the Judge I filed to challenge for. I was stressed at that moment, and I immediately fill out another Peremptory Challenge form to challenge this Commissioner. I waited until my case is called, and luckily, the Officer has NOT showed up, and my case was DISMISSED. So, I did not file such Peremptory Challenge.

If the Officer showed up, I would have to file my Peremptory Challenge immediately, but to risk that the Judge may say, "Un-timely request!" since a Judge or a Commissioner both required to be challenged at least five (5) days before the trial.

My last (Poker) card is to argue my case that I have already prepared. And, my excuse was that I was trying to avoid an accident. I knew that is not a good excuse, but, at least, it is considered the best argument whenever you are trying to avoid an accident.

There are many reasons for the Officer NOT showing up:

  • Officer has been discouraged to visit the County Seat at the Santa Clara Courthouse since most of the tickets were written for the Palo Alto Courthouse. It would make much more sense for Officer to show up for ten cases at the Palo Alto Courthouse rater than just for one case (my case) at the Santa Clara Courthouse economic-wise. Officer gets about $75-$100 for the first two (2) hours of over-time work. My ticket only worth $175, so the city will lose money if the Officer was sent to my case instead.
  • Officer has got confused about the courthouse location. Officer did showed up, but at the Palo Alto Courthouse instead.
  • Officer has got confused about the letter I sent to the Judge to request for TBWD. Perhaps the Officer thought that the trial will be a TBWD.
  • Officer was not able to identify the driver of the green mini-van, so not showing up to prevent from being embarrassed.
  • Officer had a trainning session or something similar.
  • Officer was on vacation since it was close to a long weekend.

LUCKY ME!

Please study the LESSON LEARNED from above, and remember all of them.
And, don't make the same mistake I made. Originally, I could just pay this ticket, and attend traffic school Level One.
But, I am Mr. MC, and I have told everyone to write "County Seat Please!", and to fight their tickets. If I don't even fight my own ticket, you guys will NEVER trust me anymore.
So, I risked my DMV point and the increase of my insurance to fight this ticket. And, I want you to appreciate that, and learn from my mistakes.

Thank You,
Mr. MC

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