Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lame Attempt at Humor in Court

I’m in court today, arguing a motion to reconsider a sentence. The judge accepted the defendant’s plea of guilty to speeding (over 100 in a 55 zone) and his plea of not guilty to willful reckless driving. The problem was that the judge, in addition to imposing a fine, also ordered that the defendant’s driver’s license be revoked for 90 days under the authority of a statute that reads:

Upon conviction of any person in any court within this state of any violation of (1) any law of this state pertaining to the operation of motor vehicles or (2) any city or village ordinance pertaining to the operation of a motor vehicle in such a manner as to endanger life, limb, or property... the judge ... may... order the revocation of the operator's license.”

You see how the offense must “endanger life, limb, or property?” Because of that, a case held that the statute inapplicable to the charge of speeding. so, I’m asking the court to reinstate my client’s driver’s license because, under the statute, its order was unlawful.

I hand the judge the case, hand the prosecutor a copy and, as they read it, I remark that it’s a 1976 decision but that the statutory language is the same. The judge, deep in thought (he’s an intelligent judge), says, jokingly of course and low so no one but the lawyers can hear him, “What were they smoking?”

I didn’t really think it through before I said it but responded, “Well, your honor, it was the 70’s.” Nobody laughed then either, except me later.


Anonymous said...

The opinion sounds silly. Speeding doesn't endanger life, limb or property? Then why are there speeding laws- to save gas? I guess all those news reports about accidents where they cite speeding as a factor are all wrong.

gorden said...

Your blog entry was very interesting.

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