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Old 11-17-2003, 09:54 AM
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Ok, my noise citation is coming up for a bench trial tomorrow. This is my first time through and I'm representing myself. Although my boat was definitely exceeding the db limit, I believe that the test was not performed per the standard. So I was thinking of getting the officer to explain how he conducted the test and then refer back to the testing standard to show that he didn't follow it. Do I need to declare my evidence or witnesses? Will I have a chance to cross examine? Or is it more like small claims where the judge runs the show? Has anybody been through one of these? Am I approaching it correctly? Tips?
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Old 11-17-2003, 10:46 AM
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Yep, that was exactly the case with my insurance lawsuit. The lawyers kept on getting dressed down for acting like lawyers! I guess that trial really learned me a lot about the court system.

Well, it looks like the testing standard is very specific. The meter is to be held at exactly this set distance. It doesn't give a tollerance. I know that the meter was only held at arms length with no measured distance. I figured I'd ask the officer what distance he held the meter at and then tell him what the standard calls for. It also specifically states where the testing boat is supposed to be and that it wasn't there. They had to drift their boat behind mine so the meter would be behind the boat. The standard says the testing boat is to be too the side, not behind. Apparently the meter needs to be on a pole or something. The standard also says that the boats were "to be lashed together" and they were only held by hand. A couple of really nitpicky items, but I thought it might be enough to get the test thrown out. What are your thoughts?
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Old 11-17-2003, 10:54 AM
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Pay the stinkin fine and save your vacation time.....what is it like $100? I think its $90 here in Michigan now my time off is worth more than the fine...my .02
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Old 11-17-2003, 11:34 AM
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Yea, it's $159 or something like that. It's not the money, it's the principal! I have to put my foot down for the man! If I don't who will?

Actually, I'm doing it just because I absolutly hate the law. Wisconsin is 86db which is just insain.
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Old 11-17-2003, 12:08 PM
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Cord, I agree, fight for the principal

Ask him if he usually carries a tape measure on board his vessel.

When I was pulled over years ago, the officer had everything in a briefcase. He had pre-cut PVC that was put together in such a fashion that gave him the necessary dimensions to test properly. Sounds like this guy just held a meter from behind and called it good.

Good luck. Chances are you will win the case on a technicality but in their mind they will think you lost because of the lost time wages etc. . .
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Old 11-17-2003, 12:48 PM
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One comment, you may want to be prepared with some technical explaination. Explain the way the cop tested you actually caused the reading he took to be higher than what it would have read if the test was performed correctly. I don't think I would get into the actual difference but only state that the improper measurement method resulted in higher readings than if it was done according to the law.

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Old 11-17-2003, 01:07 PM
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Rather than trying to get into the higher-lower readings, I was hoping to just stick with the assertion that the test was performed incorrectly. If I get caught up in the higher-lower argument, I could lose because he would be holding the meter too far away. That's the basis of the argument-the meter is supposed to be held at X feet back and Y feet up-exactly! I also don't want to take the stand and be examined by the prosecuter, I could really get my self in trouble then!
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Old 11-17-2003, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cord
The lawyers kept on getting dressed down for acting like lawyers!
Never happened to me yet. It may have been the lawyers you were dealing with.
Quote:
Originally posted by Cord

Well, it looks like the testing standard is very specific.
This is your only hope. And it is going to require a good cross-examination.

Don't be surprised when the officer lies about what happened -- be prepared, and bring at least one well spoken witness to trial with you. (Assuming there was a witness present on the boat.) The night before trial, go over the details of EVERYTHING that happened with your witness from the moment you saw the officer to when he left so you both have the facts perfectly straight. Concentrate on the parts of the test he did wrong, because these are the most likely things the officer will fudge.
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The meter is to be held at exactly this set distance. It doesn't give a tollerance.
Know the distance and the exact procedure for testing. Have a copy of the law with you, because the man in the black robe AIN'T GONNA TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT!!!
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I know that the meter was only held at arms length with no measured distance. I figured I'd ask the officer what distance he held the meter at and then tell him what the standard calls for.
Wrong. ASK HIM what the law requires him to do. Let him show the judge his ignorance. You can show the judge how it is to be done later.

Remember -- You ASK QUESTIONS on cross-examination. You cannot testify to anything while doing it, because you aren't sworn in, yet. Besides, it is a bad idea anyway. Don't give the prosecutor any of your knowledge, yet. You want to testify last. You will have heard all of the testimony and will be able to correct the innacuracies.
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It also specifically states where the testing boat is supposed to be and that it wasn't there. They had to drift their boat behind mine so the meter would be behind the boat. The standard says the testing boat is to be too the side, not behind. Apparently the meter needs to be on a pole or something. The standard also says that the boats were "to be lashed together" and they were only held by hand. A couple of really nitpicky items, but I thought it might be enough to get the test thrown out. What are your thoughts?
Good stuff.

Be sure to ask all of the foundation questions first before you get aggressive. Then you can say things like, "So, you said that your boat wasn't lashed to mine like the law requires?" and, "Since you weren't lashed to my boat, is it possible that the distance between the meter and the transom of my boat varied during the test?" These are just examples, but use the same form for each of the other technicalities.

At the end, argue to the judge that all of the technical requirements are in the law for a reason -- to ensure an accurate test. If they aren't followed, the test results are not scientific or reliable.

Another thing you may want to do is challenge the officer's qualifications to use the test. Try asking him questions about how his equipment works. (BTW - You have to know how it works to pull this off.) The burden is on the prosecution to show the results are reliable. They can only do this if the test is based on good science. If he can't explain to the judge how the machine measures sound, the test results should be inadmissible.

Oh -- One other little thing. If you testify, you can be asked if your boat exceeded the sound limit. If you know or have good reason to know your boat exceeds the limit, another answer might be perjury.

GOOD LUCK!!!
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Old 11-17-2003, 01:44 PM
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Pay the stinkin fine and save your vacation time.....what is it like $100? I think its $90 here in Michigan now my time off is worth more than the fine...my .02

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Old 11-17-2003, 01:53 PM
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Oh, man that is soo helpful! Thanks! You made several good points that I hadn't thought of. If you can add anything more, I'd sure appreciate it!


Regarding the lawyers being dressed down comment...I was sueing the insurance company in small claims. They kept on forgetting that and were treating it like a large claims case. Apparently there are several things that can be done in large claims that are obsurd in small claims.
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