Written by Gregory Monte.
What you will find below is the text of a letter written by a member of the National Motorists Association from Pennsylvania. I found it very interesting because the individual highlighted several topics that I have written about on my blog over the past year.
- Topic #1 – PA Title 75, Sections 3361 & 3364
- Topic #2 – PA Title 75, Section 3309 (this I won’t discuss in detail because it would make this post even longer than it already is – but you can find it on my website)
- Topic #3 – Judges Suck!
- Topic #4 – The Only Way to Win in Court is Through Case Law
The full letter appears below, but I will intersperse throughout it my personal commentary based on what I learned in my own research into traffic court issues.
The Letter Begins
I really never saw myself having my civil rights so threatened and needing to write anything like this. I suppose what they say: “life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans” just points out how many of us totally miss things happening around us only to awaken when these things threaten us.
The Letter Continues – Topics # 1 & 2
On two occasions now I have had the dubious honor of being taken to task by Bucks County in Eastern PA. It seems police there have started to employ military like tactics to enforce their agenda. Laws such as driving too slowly for conditions 3364 of the PA drivers code and crossing yellow lines 3309 are routinely used to stop motorists as they travel. Interestingly many of these statutes like 3364 have conflicting laws like 3361 limiting the speed a responsible driver would employ depending on the conditions of the road that if given the appropriate scrutiny in the legal process would tell a far different story to what the powers to be (the privateers of our day) would want you to believe and punish us for.
My Comments on Topics 1 & 2
The writer is correct that the Pennsylvania statute concerning proper speed is written in such a way that you can get a ticket no matter how you drive. I addressed this issue in a blog post from April 2019 called: Goldilocks and the 3 Speeding Tickets. Here is a quote from that post:
After a bit of research, I realized that, unlike in the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, speeding tickets are not just a Papa, Mama and Baby Bear type situation. It turns out that motorists can actually get a ticket for driving too slow (Papa Bear’s cold porridge), too fast (Mama Bear’s hot porridge) and even somewhere in between (Baby Bear’s just-right porridge).
The relevant sections make this quite clear:
- Title 75, Section 3362 – Driving too fast.
- Title 75, Section 3364 – Driving too slowly.
- Title 75, Section 3361 – Driving under the speed limit – but still too fast.
Basically, a police officer can issue a citation no matter what.
The Letter Continues – Topic #3
Where the system now seems to break down is in the trial stage when a judge has the duty to review a case and truthfully apply the law acting as a check and balance to those who declared themselves the all-knowing and able to pass judgment on honest citizens.
Finding myself being made to sit through another individual’s crucifixion before the court in Bucks County before the President Judge (a situation set up I am sure to intimidate me). I was made to see how that individual drove one night. No one really saw much wrong with it. Except that is the Officer Aaron P Menzies Warrington’s declared “Top Gun” by a supposedly safety conscious police organization out of Harrisburg who took it upon himself to stop this motorist. The first surprise for everyone in the court room was this motorist’s lawyer after watching the video noted that the officer Menzies ran 3 stop signs and ran without his lights at night while pursuing this individual. His lawyer said: “Judge now that we have all watched this video it should be noted that the only one breaking the law that night was Officer Menzies”. Well most assuredly this is when a Judge should have stepped in and threw the whole case out providing that so important check and balance. Instead what happened is the President Judge declared the officer’s action was “Good Police Work”.
My Comments on Topic 3
I have written much about how judges suck – and the President Judge in this case fits the bill no doubt. Below you will find all of my related posts:
- A Judge’s Discretion in Traffic Court
- A Traffic Ticket for Hanging an Air-Freshener Off Your Rear-View Mirror?
- Are Vehicle Inspections Necessary?
- Cops Would Never Lie in Court … Right?
- Does a Speeding Ticket Have to Indicate Your Speed?
- Judge Decrees: Drivers “Can’t Be Trusted” to Monitor Their Own Speed.
- NY vs. PA – Police Officer’s Testimony About Speed
- Pro Se Defendants and Impatient Judges
- Police Speed Enforcement from Aircraft in Pennsylvania
- Think a Dash Cam Will Help You Beat a Ticket? Think Again.
- Your Traffic Ticket Testimony is Trivial and Trifling in a Trial.
- Want to Beat a Parking Ticket? You Might Not Want to Try This …
My favorite quote from a judge comes from the post called Judge Decrees: Drivers “Can’t Be Trusted” to Monitor Their Own Speed:
“… less competent drivers need this kind of regulation; they cannot be trusted to choose an appropriate speed for themselves because they lack the skills to make a prudent choice.”Pennsylvania Superior Court Justice, Com. v. Kondor, 651 A. 2d 1135 (1994)
My response to this comment was pretty much to the point:
What a condescending prick! With all due respect to his “honor,” now I fully understand why they call judicial decisions “opinions.”
The Letter Continues – Topic #4
Well for me the situation was clear Bucks County was hell bent on having their way and there was no justice to be had in this so-called Justice Center. The individual serving as my lawyer simply said: “you see how he kisses his ass”. Anyway, Bucks County’s intimidation of me was complete and when it came my time to speak in my defense there was simply nothing to be said. The decision was obviously already made and no degree of discussion would influence the decision of the court.
My Comments on Topic 4
This is the only part of the letter that bothered me and that I take issue with. My son won his case before the Wayne Count, PA President Judge (Janine Edwards) because he followed the Traffic Ticket Defense Strategy that I discovered after months of research. You can read the actual legal brief that I prepared for his defense here.
The key is finding case law that describes a situation similar to the one you experienced. It is very unlikely that a judge will rule against you if you can show him/her that other judges have ruled similarly.
Here is what I wrote in a post from last July called How to Effectively Challenge a Speeding Ticket:
Another important purpose of using case law is that it is serves as precedent. If you can actually find a case with circumstances similar to yours, you are most likely going to win in court. You may not be successful at the lower court level (my son lost in Magisterial Court) because the judges there are probably friends with the cops (and are not as well-read about the law), but in higher courts of appeal, you stand an excellent chance of coming out on top. That was my son’s experience in the Court of Common Pleas. There, the judge could not ignore the case law he cited so she found him not guilty.
The Letter Ends on an Understandably Sour Note
So, after making Pennsylvania my home for over thirty years, building a house here, bringing up two daughters I have to ask myself: When did things go so far wrong? Is it because the judges like this are free to make decisions that are beyond scrutiny of a jury and all facts are hidden from the public? Yes, I think this is a portion of the problem. It does seem silly to think that if these decisions are made in a vacuum where no one will see them there is much of an incentive for a Judge to do things right. He might as well support his county’s agenda.
So anyway, I have sat before this President Judge two times now and honestly, I believe that gives me a strong insight into a system which in my opinion fails the citizen. I really did think it was worth mentioning to the PA Group. It does seem like the public is seeing what is actually going on is the way to obtain some much needed reforms.
Thanks, folks, for hearing me out and please if you find yourself with a similar experience let’s use the forum of the PA Group as a way of making facts available to the public so needed corrections can be made.
My Parting Comments Which Support the Writer’s Experience in Court
One thing is for damn sure – Your Traffic Ticket Testimony is Trivial and Trifling in a Trial. Here are my opening lines from this post:
Perhaps I went a bit “over the top” in that blog post title, but I want to hammer home an important point that too many defendants still don’t get:
If it is your word against that of the police officer, the judge will always believe the officer. Unless you can beat a ticket based on a technicality in the law, you are pretty much wasting your time in court.
But what if you have your own word plus the testimony of another witness? Will that give you a better shot in court?
Maybe, but in the case I discuss below, there actually were two witnesses for the defense and it still didn’t matter – the judge believed the officer.
“After hearing this evidence, ‘[t]he trial court found Officer Aloi’s testimony to be extremely credible’ and, thus, it convicted Appellant of the above-stated offenses.”
Surprise, surprise, surprise …
The Basic Speeding Ticket Defense
This is a 9 page review of the most basic way to beat a speeding ticket – even if you actually were speeding. This particular strategy will almost always work, but it does depend on one aspect of the circumstances surrounding your ticket. For the strategy to be effective, there must be an issue with the speed limit signs, themselves. It’s all about the need of states/localities to comply with their “Obedience to Traffic Control Devices” statutes.
Click to Download the Free “Basic Speeding Ticket Defense”
Applying the Traffic Ticket Defense Method to Challenge a Citation.
This is a seven-page, detailed explanation of my three-step method for challenging any traffic ticket. I use the “Driving at a Safe Speed” statute from Pennsylvania to illustrate this method, but it can be applied to any other statute that you might be cited for in the vehicle code.
In addition, no matter what state you live in, the procedure is the same: you need to understand the statute you allegedly violated, look for technicalities in that statute and (most importantly) find case law to support/reveal those technicalities.
Click to Download the Free “Applying the Traffic Ticket Defense Method to Challenge a Citation”
The Pennsylvania Stop Sign Defense Strategy in a Nutshell.
This is a one-page, eight-point summary of the strategy I discovered while researching ways of beating unfair stop sign tickets. It is specifically geared to Pennsylvania but can also be applied to most other states.
Click to Download the Free “Pennsylvania Stop Sign Defense Strategy in a Nutshell”
My Son’s Opening Trial Statement at the Court of Common Pleas.
This is an elegant, one-page, powerfully concise expression of my defense strategy.
Click to Download the Free “My Son’s Opening Statement for his Trial in the Court of Common Pleas, Wayne County, Pennsylvania”
The Brief – My Son’s Case Brief for the Court of Common Pleas
- An eighteen-page argument for why an illegal stop sign is not enforceable.
- Requested by the President Judge at Wayne County, PA, Court of Common Pleas.
- A highly distilled application of the Pennsylvania Stop Sign Ticket Defense.
Click to Download the Free “Brief Prepared for Submission to the Wayne County, PA, Court of Common Pleas”