Thursday, July 22, 2010

The man stickin it to me!

So the way I left it with the Justice Court (which is such an oxymoron), I figured I would never hear from them again since it is not really my job to actively pursue my innocence. I guess in today's world, however, it is.

I never agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the court (although I did appear at the arraignment and the trial, which, I suppose, could be technically construed as submission to their jurisdiction). Instead, I appeared and asked the judge what exactly I was being summoned there for. I specifically asked if it was a criminal or civil action being brought against me. He reluctantly agreed it was a civil action, although he tried to tell me it was something of a hybrid between the two. (By the way, the judges name is James Shartel of the Beaverton Justice Court in Washington County Oregon, in case you were wondering). I did not make a plea. I told the judge that I did not believe the court had subject matter jurisdiction since there was no individual alleging that I had violated their rights. I was therefor not subject to having a civil action being brought against me. Judge Shartel summarily dismissed my objection out of hand. So, I asked him for some sort of finding of fact and conclusion of law to back up his decision and validate subject matter jurisdiction in the case (which the Oregon code of civil procedure says the court must comply with when requested by the defendant). He simply refused. Then he entered a not guilty plea for me and scheduled a date for trial. I could not believe how completely belligerent this man was being! 

I guess the Justice Court technically did have a judgment against me (even if it was obtained fraudulently and is completely without merit and void according to any common law standard of legal procedure), so they decided to act on that judgment. I got a letter in the mail from the court wherein I was notified that the court was sending a notice to the DMV to suspend my license because I never paid their fine. For a brief moment I was tempted to let them go ahead and do that. I would be more than happy to travel around in my automobile without a driver's license, however, my job requires me to occasionally travel and, when I do, I usually have to rent a car. Since every rental car company requires a driver's license to be able to rent a car I guess I could not really do that.

As soon as I got the letter, I went to the court and asked the clerk how this was happening when it was a clear violation of my rights! They said I would have to ask the judge and that I could see him when his current case adjourned. So 40 minutes later (after witnessing another very sad miscarriage of justice where an elderly couple was being dragged into court because they have several dogs that bark. They were responding to 8 counts of violating a noise ordinance.) When I finally got to speak to the judge, he looked over my file and he said I never perfected my appeal. Of course I did not perfect my appeal! That would have cost me over $300 and is completely non-refundable! My simple question was, "Why should I have to pay to pursue my innocence, when it is obvious to any thinking person that I did not receive due process in my case?" He then said that he was sorry, but he could not do anything. Then, I asked him if he would consider a motion to vacate the decision against me (which is basically asking the judge to reverse his previous decision due to the judgment being made in error.) He said if I gave him a good reason, he would certainly consider it. So I paid the fine to get them to stop the suspension of my license (to keep from incurring another $75 in non-refundable DMV fees to re-instate a suspended license)

I have since sent in the motion to vacate listing the reasons I feel the case was not legitimate (1. The officer lied or was incompetent. 2. My request for a finding of fact and conclusion of law was completely ignored. and 3. Conflict of interest existed since the judge admitted he represented the same party as the one bringing the action against me.)

Now I am waiting to hear a response from the court, however, I fully expect that the motion to vacate will be denied, considering the judge's previously belligerent behavior and complete disrespect of the law. What a racket! I guess the lesson I have learned from all of this is that the next time I appear in court I really have to drill the officer and get him to look like a complete idiot when I question him because apparently the judge needs a lot more elaboration to realize the officer is either lying or is incompetent. I would also make a request for discovery of evidence from the officer prior to the case and see if they do not respond. If they did not respond then I could move for the case to be dismissed for lack of compliance to a request for discovery. However, if my experience is any indication, it appears that the court will do whatever it wants as long as the outcome is a guilty verdict with a fine collected. This makes me very sad that this is what things have come to. Individual rights be damned. We are in the era of government taking and claiming rights for itself to be able to confiscate our money at the whim of the officers sworn to uphold the law (which now includes the right of the government to take your money without any real due process). That's my rant. I guess as I continue to live, I continue to learn.

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