What I Learned in Traffic Court

If you have to go to court, be prepared and be respectful!

If you have to go to court, be prepared and be respectful!

I had the misfortune of getting caught going through a red light back in October of last year. And before you ask, yes, it was in the car for the campaign, with the candidate in the car. I went in to request the trial within the two weeks and received my notice to appear in court a short time later.

I spoke to a friend who had been in this situation a couple of times before and his advice was amazing! This was the first time I was appearing in court as a defendant and I haven’t had an issue on my driving record in over 15 years.  He suggested that I go at least an hour in advance of the court time and speak to the prosecutor. They will set up a table outside the court at which time, I could try to negotiate for a quick trial and a potential settlement. I was forewarned that an offence of this type is usually viewed as being more severe than other offences, including speeding.

The Joe Pantalone Smart Car

The car I was driving when I was pulled over for failing to stop at a red light.

As suggested, I arrived an hour in advance, with my ticket, my notice to appear and a photo of the car, just in case. The gentleman said there was nothing he could do about the three points that would be taken off my licence, but that the fine might be reduced. I asked if there was anything that could be done to which he replied: “No.” He said that I would have to wait in court until my name was called and that I needed to understand that I would in fact be pleading guilty to the charge. I said that I did and waited until the judge came in.

I’ve watched enough court shows to know that there are formalities and procedures to be followed. I was also taught that if you are going to appear in court, you should dress appropriately. I saw people coming in wearing flip-flops, t-shirts and shorts. When some people addressed the judge, they had their hands in their pockets, even though they were instructed not to do so. At least two men did this.

In one case, a representative of the defendant was in front of the judge asked for a continuance because he had been retained the day before court. The offence was around the same time as my own, the judge granted it, but asked that it be noted on the file that this was highly improper and that the defendant should have been prepared long before one day prior to the trial date.

There was one man in the back row near me who was leaning over in his seat. The judge actually stopped court and told this young man to sit up. “This is a court of law and it should be respected,” said the judge, pointing at the shield behind him. As the young man sat up, the judge noted the coffee in his hand. “Young man, you are not allowed to have coffee in the court! Please, sir, remove it from the court,” the judge scolded, then turned to everyone else. “There is no coffee, food, water or any thing of that nature allowed in here.” After the man came back into the court, he sat back down and the judge asked the prosecutor for the next case. Guess who? Yep. Same guy. When he stood up, the judge said, “You? You’re the next case? No, have a seat, sir. We’ll deal with you later.”

One thing I observed was that when a case was called, the prosecutor may turn around, ask for a badge number and if the officer was not present, the prosecutor would ask that the case be withdrawn. This seemed to be planned or at least was known in advance of the prosecutor and the defence being in front of the judge.

Eventually, after all the lawyers had been dealt with, my case was called. Seeing them go first, I at least could see what might or might not be appropriate to say. I had a pretty good idea, but mostly from US television shows, so it couldn’t hurt to see the differences between there and here at home. I moved as quickly as possible without fumbling over everything and remained calm. I put my briefcase on the floor and put my hands behind my back, not in my pockets. I was asked to state my name for the court, which I did. The judge at least gave a small smile indicating that he was pleased with my actions and attention. The prosecutor then asked his honour if he could have the case withdrawn. Did I miss something? Did he even ask if the officer was present? Before I knew it, the judge stated that my case was withdrawn and that I was free to go. I thanked his honour and the prosecutor, wished them all a good weekend (since it was a Friday) and left. I couldn’t believe my luck and I wasn’t sticking around in case they changed their minds. I asked a young woman sitting outside if I should expect anything in the mail or whether that was it. She said that no, it’s entered into the record and that’s all there is. Looks like my karma ran over my traffic ticket!

The lesson here is simple: Show some respect, do what you are supposed to do, be prepared, speak only when asked to do so and say as little as is needed. As long as I did these things, I had no difficulty. It seemed to me that these things were common knowledge when you go to court, but after this event, I’m not so sure anymore. So take note if you ever have to appear before a judge, even if it’s just a traffic ticket.

Camaraderie and Zip Cars Toronto Announcement at Veritas

I was introduced to a company called Camaraderie (@Camaraderie) by Scott Honsberger just over a month ago. We’d crossed paths two nights in a row at two totally separate events, a week later getting off the same streecar, and a few weeks later at a meetup for a company I’ve been looking at. Camaraderie is a shared workspace in downtown Toronto for individuals, small businesses and startups. This was a fairly new concept to me, and yet, a no brianer. So when he invited me to one of their events, co-hosting with Zip Cars Toronto for an announcement. I could tell that this was a match made in heaven. Office space and transportation, with out long term commitments and as-needed. Wonderful!

The event was hosted at Veritas at King Street East and Sherbourne Street. I’d never been there before and enjoyed a glass of their house red wine (Pinot Noir, Cave Spring). I could never resist a good Pinot Noir!

Zip Cars has some great offers for members of Camaraderie, which are still pretty good even if you aren’t a member. I even walked away with some great swag, including a porcelin travel mug. Not cheap! And what follow-up! I had a rep from Zip Cars call me the next morning to see if I had any questions about the offerings that had been given to me the night before. They sent me an email with all of the pertinent info and did not push anything.

If you haven’t checked any of these companies out yet, I would certainly take a look. Enjoy!

FITC FTW

I’d noticed recently that a few people that I follow on Twitter have been talking about this conference called FITC. For those that don’t know, FITC = Flash In The Can. For more info on the conference, you can check it out here.

Enter Justin Kozuch and 49 Pixels (aka Pixel to Product). I entered a contest to win a conference pass worth about $700. Did I mention that he would be a great Manager of Conversation? (@FITCJustin). Well, he should.

But now I have a dilemma: What sessions should I attend? I’ve got a background in doing web sites, but the skills need some upgrading. Have even thought about getting back into it recently. I was pretty good at coding them, but could use some more design ideas.

So dear readers, if you were granted such a gift, how would you use your powers for good? The schedule is here. What would you attend and why?

Rogers Cable Volume Too Low

I have one of those really simple digital boxes from Rogers Cable. (Model: Explorer E940). When I play a DVD through my TV, the volume doesn’t need to be much higher than about 14 out of a range of 0-63 (I don’t know either…just go with it). When I watch anything through Rogers, I almost always have to have it up to the max. So, I decided to do what any technically minded person would do…I Googled it.

I should note that I have already programmed my remote to control my TV’s volume control.

I found a great discussion here: http://forums.redflagdeals.com/archive/index.php/t-752470.html One of the first things it suggests is under the Audio Range in Settings, change it to “Narrow”. Turns out, mine is already there. Still not very good. Further down, it talks about Audio Control = “Fixed”. Turns out mine was set to “Variable” and as soon as I changed it, I had to turn down the volume! Not much mind you, but I noticed a difference right away. It’s not as good as when I watch the DVD, it’s still better than having it all the way up and not being able to hear anything.

So even though the post was almost 2 years old, it was still relevant. Thought this might help some of you out there without Netflix. 😉

Advice from a Newbie on Blogging

A friend of mine has taken to my blog posts lately and asked my advice about creating one since she wants to do the same. Well, my first statement to her about writing a successful blog: I don’t know how. I’m still figuring it out myself. And though I haven’t read all the articles about blogging successfully, I have an idea of where to find some and some tools that can help.

One piece of advice I had for her is to use WordPress. I’ve downloaded it for my Blackberry and I like it. I switched from blogger and was able to import from there as well as live journal, so it’s all in one spot. I can also manage multiple blogs from the same spot. There are also articles right from the home page with advice.

The other tool that goes hand-in-hand, in my humble opinion, is Twitter. Much of the advice and examples of blogging is through the people I follow. Sometimes it serves as inspiration too!

The one piece I’m still learning about is how much to streamline my blog. Make it all technical and businesslike, or just categorize my posts in one place and let readers decide on what they want to read.

I’m certainly no expert, but to paraphrase, a person in power surrounds themselves with those who can give good advice. Once she gets set up, I’ll give her a dedicated post so you can all say hi. Hope that helps!

-Shanta

My Birthday Present

For my birthday, my mother bought me a mug. Most would cringe at this idea, but you will find this on my work desk upon graduation, where ever in the world that may be. I thought this would be an appropriate first entry to a blog. Enjoy.

Sex Manual for Computer Experts

  1. Be user friendly
  2. Take bytes
  3. Fondle cursor
  4. Spread sheet
  5. Use surge protector to avoid accidents
  6. Activate the Hard drive
  7. Insert disk all the way
  8. Do it until your megahertz
  9. Back it up
  10. Eject floppy