By Joe Novak
Jimmy Barker, my friend since we were 10 years old called the other day complaining about getting a U turn ticket in an area where there was no sign. The No U Turn sign was at different intersection a few hundred feet ahead and since there was no sign where he made his turn, he assumed that it was a legal turn. Convincing the State Patrol was another issue and a citation was issued.
Jimmie’s dad was a Cleveland Police officer and respecting the law is ingrained in Jim, but it better be exact and fair or you’ve got a fight on your hands. Jim Being Irish may also be a reason he took his fight to court.
I cautioned him about showing up unprepared. Cleveland judges can be fair, but the burden of proof is on you and if you flail like a carp out of water, the Judge will have you for breakfast. I think I may have put the fear of the gavel in him since he went off with camera and sketch pad in hand. His court date approaching, Jim feverishly put a presentation together worthy of a Johnny Cochran defense.
Materials in hand, Jim approached the Judge knowing he had one shot at wooing the judge to his side of the argument. The Judge asked him questions concerning the violation and Jim proceeded to show the photos and explain his diagram as well as exerts from the local law books to an impressed adjudicator. The judge ordered Jim back to court on another day after she had studied the law and signage at the scene of the alleged crime.
Jim sat nervously at his second appearance before this Judge, hoping she would rule in his favor; having one more card up his sleeve. The county had put up a new sign in the exact place it needed to be and had it been there at the time of his “alleged” violation, Jim would have had no defense. This was proof of his innocence and this “fair and balanced” Judge had already determined he was not guilty! Being prepared was a key strategy; a life lesson for all of us.
It is human nature to go about our days seldom thinking about being prepared for what life will throw at us. I wonder how many of us are prepared to stand in front of the last judge we will ever face; the kindest, most merciful one? Easter has just passed and the pews in church will not be overflowing again until next Christmas. It’s not my place to judge the twice-a-year worshipers. I do know for certain that we are all terminal; we just don’t know how, where or when. Doing a bit more preparation may be a wise strategy before our court date since there is no appeal process.
Joe Novak retired from PGS,Inc. a manufacturing company he sold in 2005. He has written more than 140 articles for The Middlefield Post and is active in his community and church. Joe’s articles are based on his life and business experiences and though he tries to be as accurate as possible, he recommends you contact an expert or professional when in doubt.