With summer coming to a close, my friends and I took a trip to Port Aransas.
I drove more than 500 miles that weekend and with about five miles to go on the way home I received a ticket for “failure to slow or evacuate lane for an emergency vehicle.”
The “emergency vehicle” in question was an unmarked police car. After some time on the Wikipedia page for “Mistake of Law” and a few emails with a lawyer and family friend regarding Texas Transportation Code (Section 547.305 to be exact) I decided to fight it. About a month later I now have a court date and a lawyer: myself.
But court is boring. Even if you plan to win.
So in case you ever end up representing yourself in court for an undeserved traffic ticket or a probably deserved child support payment here are some tips to make it fun:
The Clothes – Your appearance is your first impression, your first chance to display professionalism. Or you can use the trial as an excuse to buy that green suede suitÂ from Goodwill.
The Examples – To fare well in court you need to learn from the best. But it’s no fun to stick to Atticus Finch and that white-haired guy from Law & Order. So before your court date, grab some snacks and study up on My Cousin Vinny and Legally Blonde.
The Jargon – You have to talk like a lawyer if you want to be treated like one. Object to something, ask to “approach the bench,” attempt to strike something from the record. If you’re lucky you’ll get threatened with contempt.
The Famous Cases – Past cases may not have set a precedent for your argument against that parking ticket but you should still try to work Roe v. Wade or Brown v. Board of Education into your argument.
The Recess – At some point you’ll need a break. So request a recess and then get your swing and slide on at the nearest playground. (Don’t worry about getting dirty; your suede suit only cost about $10.)
The Witnesses – Call a friend to the stand and see how far you can get into the “you can’t handle the truth” speech from A Few Good Men. Bonus points if your friend gets to admit he ordered the code red.
The Closing Argument – This is your final chance to sway the jury. It doesn’t matter what you are being tried for. Simply step up, look the jurors in the eye and say “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Whatever you do, don’t take it seriously. Judges hate that.