Bar Bulletin

July, 2004

IRONY IN QUARTER-TIME
~For Baltimore PI, change is not always a bad thing~

By Lynn H. Levy

It was only a parking ticket. I had put my four quarters in the meter and merrily walked into the courthouse to do my work. When I came back to my car – 20 minutes early – I had a ticket on my windshield with an $18 fine.

I was furious, and I immediately sent in my request for my “day in court.” A few weeks later I cleared my schedule for my appearance.

My friends and family disagreed with my interpretation of citizenship, owing, perhaps, to the last time I had “had my day.” When I lived in New York, I was charged with going through a red light. I pled “not guilty” and arrived at the court with charts of the timing of the traffic signal, hoping to prove that the light went from green to yellow to red in two seconds.

My daughter, who at that time was 10 and very civic-minded, respected me as a litigator on my own behalf. When I got to court, the judge informed me that “it was the police officer’s word against [mine]” and that the Police Officer would win. I happily paid my $20 fine for a “bald tire” and marched out of the courtroom.

My daughter was furious. Where were my convictions? Why didn’t I want to see “justice served?”

So here I am, sitting in this courtroom, losing valuable billable hours as I wait to have my rights as a citizen addressed. Almost 150 people crowded the courtroom. Some brought attorneys. Many police officers were already seated. One state trooper came in; he smiled and in a loud voice asked everyone how they were doing. A lot of laughter was heard.

The judge arrived promptly at 9:00 a.m. and proceeded with the docket (the man who does the commercials talking at a high rate of speed has competition – he was great).

So what was the outcome? I was acquitted! No fines, no court fees. Free to leave. Fetters removed.

With head held high, I waltzed out of the courthouse. I had had my day in court and won. Justice was served. I couldn’t wait to call my daughter, now 28 and living in New York.

I arrived at my car, ready to take on the world.

On my windshield was a crisp, brand-new ticket – the parking meter had expired 20 minutes earlier. This time I deserved it.

I now keep $10 in quarters in my car.

Lynn H. Levy has been a private investigator for 25 years. When not defending parking tickets, she focuses on background and assets checks.

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