Saturday, May 14, 2011

Can someone stand in for the officer in court?

A law student recently had a traffic ticket. When he arrived at court, the officer wasn't there. But a woman told him she was appearing for the officer. Huh?

The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution provides

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to ... be confronted with the witnesses against him ..."

Since the woman wasn't at the traffic stop, she cannot be a witness against the driver. She can't be cross-examined because she has no firsthand knowledge of the incident.

If she's trying to represent the officer, is she an attorney? Is the unlicensed practice of law a crime in that state? (Probably--lawyers have a strong lobby.) She still can't testify.

Your questioning of her might proceed like this:

You: Does the United States Constitution apply in this state?

Her: Yes

You: Are you familiar with the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution? ....

~ ~ ~

A New York police officer was in his car writing a ticket when an allegedly drunk driver rammed him from behind. Unfazed, the officer finished issuing the traffic ticket before going to the hospital. The driver who struck his car drove off, to be apprehended by other police.

St. Clair County, Illinois is having a clean up day. Anyone with a minor traffic warrant can come in to try and settle up. They promise there'll be no arrests.

Image courtesy of Graeme Weatherston

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