Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Fight For Justice

I have become scared to leave my car behind when putting my boat in the water.  In addition to the towing incident, I recently got a ticket for illegal parking.  Let me be clear, I didn't do it.

I pulled my car into a lot in the Palisades park.  There was a police car there which put me on edge, because while I have a tremendous amount of respect for the law, I don't have very much respect for the law.  The police car sat there in the lot, just him and me, as I pulled my car up to the ramp.  I then unloaded my kayak and all my gear, moved the car into a perfectly legal space, walked back to the ramp and put in.  That whole time the police car was there watching me.  Watching me.

As I paddled on the river that day, I gave it little thought, but that doesn't mean there wasn't evil afoot.  And when I got back, the ticket was there under my windshield wiper like a flag of ruin in the wind.  The ticket claimed that I had parked illegally and was required to pay about 50$.  A great injustice! I was going to fight it with the righteous anger of a man who had been wronged not just once, but was suddenly a repeated victim of this government's traffic oppression.

That night I read the Bill of Rights.  With a thorough understanding of the law I would be unstoppable in court.

The courthouse, together with a police office, provide law for the Palisades Interstate Park.  I went to there with my mom, because it was on the way to our destination in the Catskills.  I had combed my hair and put on a clean shirt in a wasted effort to make a good impression on the judge.

First, in a small office I spoke to the prosecutor.

“What's your name?” he asked me.

I told him my name.  He looked for it on his list and couldn't find it.  My dad's name was there though, and that made sense because my dad is the owner of the car.  I talked to the prosecutor for a bit. I explained my innocence of these terrible accusations made against me.

“I'm going to ask for the case to be dismissed.  The charges are being made against Jeremy Neimand, and he wasn't driving the car so he can't be found guilty.  Just sign here.”  putting a small piece of paper in front of me after writing something on it.

Above the space that I was supposed to sign there was a short paragraph which said that I was pleading guilty. “Ehh,  I don't want to plead guilty.”

His answer came quick and matter of fact as though it was the simplest thing in the world.  “Oh, don't worry about that.  We only ask you to sign that form because it's the only one we have.”

“Do I have to sign it?”  I asked.

“No, you can sign it later with the judge if you like.”

I elected to sign it later.

After a short wait we were let into the court room.  It was an old room in an old building.  The room itself was walled with dark wooden panels and the carpeting was the color Old Official.  The white haired heavy set judge read everybody their rights.  I thought, I can subpoena the police a officer who gave me the ticket and have him explain why.  Perhaps with a clever cross examination I could trick him into admitting that a mistake had been made.

The first defendant that was called had a public attorney.  In a few minutes the issue was resolved and the Judge asked if anybody else wanted a public attorney.  After a moment of silence, as the public attorney was on his way out, one man said “Yes.”

“I only meet by appointment.”  the attorney said, and completed his escape from the courtroom.

A few other people where called before me, most had been going 5 to 10 miles over the speed limit.  One man brought his lawyer with him to plead guilty to the speeding charge.

Another man couldn't speak English.  The judge tried talking to him without any success.  My mother mentioned that I might find myself in similar circumstances before long.  Finally, a prosecutor was able to translate for him.

It was my turn.  The judge read the piece of paper the prosecutor had written asking my case to be dismissed.  With a look of surprise he asked me to explain it to him.  I tried, but I was interrupted numerous times by an increasingly incredulous judge.

“The ticket was made out to my dad.”  I tried.

“No, it was made out to the driver of car.  Were you in control of the car?”

I didn't know what he meant, I wasn't driving the car when it was parked but I had left it in that legal parking spot.  If the car had gone off and committed some crime while I was away I certainly should not have been held responsible.

“I drove to the parking lot and left the car in the parking lot to go kayaking.”  I told him hoping that that would answer his question.  It didn't, so he asked two more times about control of the car and both time I gave the same answer, thinking that that's what he wanted to know.

After the final time he nodded as though I had admitted defeat and then sent me back to the first room with the prosecutor to have the prosecutor recommend something else.

This time the prosecutor did not recommend that the case be dismissed.  He sent me back into the court room to wait while the judge went through a bunch more cases before calling my dad up to the bench.  My dad wasn't there so I went again.

The Judge began railing at me for having such a ridiculous idea about ticket payment as to suggest that I might get out of this, and that my dad would have to come to court, when a voice came from behind me “I'm his mother, and I'll pay!”

And my manhood was taken from me.  Perhaps one day it will come back, but for now it's gone.

The judge went on, “So you want to plead guilty?”

“No.  The reason why I'm here is to plead not guilty.  I have no idea why I was given the ticket.”

The judge told me that my dad would have to come back on another date.  He went on to tell me that while my dad might have to pay the state, I should certainly reimburse him for it.
I asked if the next trial date could be soon since I'm leaving the country.

“It doesn't matter if your here or not since you're not the one on trial.  It's entirely up to your father's defense.”

I'm home now.  I hate cars, and when I have my kayak in Israel I intend to hook it up to my bike with a trailer to get it to the water.  And I can be sure, I'll never have to meet this judge again.


  1. I had your day in court today. Prior to going the court I went to the scene of the crime. I noticed as I went onto the road to the parking lot a sign stating the parking was for boaters only.

    When I spoke to the prosecutor he told me there were strange parking rules, that you had to park only in certain areas. I showed him the pictures, and that you were parked in a legal spot, and that there were not any signs prohibiting parking. I mentioned that I was not the driver, but it was my son who was a kayaker.

    He beamed with a big smile, "He did not have a trailer?" he asked. No I stated. That’s the problem he stated. "The police ticket anybody without a boat trailer". He recommended that the charges be dismissed.

    Kayakers aren't boaters? Charges were dismissed.

  2. Haha, I really enjoyed this post. Yay for principles and justice. Yair just got hooked on your blog recently, by the way. And thanks for your note - we're still looking for Buki. Virtual hugs.