"I Fought The Law, and I Won; I Guess" By: Jennifer Bicknell

From June 26, 2013 to today, September 4, 2013, I have had something hanging over my head. It has caused me to lose sleep and made me fearful just driving down the street. What was hanging over my head was a speeding ticket I picked up on the way to Tunica. As a non-speeder with a clean driving record this ticket carried with it visions of climbing insurance rates and horrific court costs and fines in Mississippi for this Tennessee girl. From the minute I drove away from the officer my mind was going. I knew I had not been going as fast as he said I was because my cruise-control was set and I began formulating my argument to the judge. Besides the speed, other factual errors were on the ticket and I formulated arguments around those as well. For over two months I thought about this ticket and how I was going to win in court. Today was the day! I pulled together my evidence which included the ticket itself, the registration for my car, a picture of my license plate, notarized affidavits from my friends who were in the car with me, and my cross-examination prepared for the officer. All exhibits were stickered and in folders in order of how I planned to introduce them to the judge. I also had originals and copies ready to give to the judge and keep for myself. I confidently make the claim that I was the most prepared person to appear before that judge to defend against a speeding ticket. I owe my preparedness to the education I am receiving as a law clerk at Rice, Amundsen & Caperton. Watching Larry Rice and his staff prepare for court greatly influenced my level of preparedness today. I arrived fifteen minutes early and sat in the packed courtroom. I listened to the other people go before the judge and as I sat there for the first hour the butterflies in my stomach began to lessen so I was glad for the wait. As I sat there for the next hour I was not only observing the judge, but all the commotion going on around the courtroom between lawyers, clients, and officers. After the second hour we were dismissed for lunch so I had yet one more hour to wait. When we reconvened, I knew my turn mas coming up quickly. The butterflies returned but I was ready and excited. This would be the first time I had made any argument before a real judge, this was the first cross-examination I would make with a real witness; and this could either go in my favor or go badly for me. Then, the judge called my name (mispronounced it actually but I would never correct a judge on that point). My folders in hand I approached the judge and confidently responded to his question, “Not guilty, Your Honor!” At that plea, the judge dismissed the charges because the officer was not in court. I said “Thank you, Your Honor,” turned and left. That was it? While I very much appreciate the disposition of my case, what a let-down! I was prepared and ready to defend myself and I said less than ten words to the judge? Yes, this is the way it works apparently. All-in-all, the outcome was to my advantage; my insurance will not be affected, no fines or court costs to pay, and as a bonus my Bar application still will say no moving violations on it. It felt good to walk into court prepared today and the rush I felt going into court, even on this little matter, makes me certain that I want to spend my law career in the courtroom.