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.

TTC Naming Stations After Corporate Sponsors

I realize that the most logical thing to do when naming stations is to name them based on locations. But, what if those stations never get built because there is no money to build them? How is it any different from allowing corporations to name our stadiums and buildings after themselves? Now, they even change the names nevermind building new ones. Look at what they did with SkyDome (and yes, it will always be the “Dome” to me).

I’d make the corporations pay for the drilling to the new station, the construction of the station itself and for the first five years of maintenance such as cleaning and facilities. If they want to pay that much, let them. Who benefits? Potentially their own employees and most definitely the general public. Let them put their money where their mouth is. In return, they get it named for no less than 25 years, provided they don’t breach the agreement.

So, who will step up?

The Princess’s Annual Christmas Address

Well, true to form, the year has had it’s share ups and downs.

The last year, ended off with the passing of my cousin Neeta, a very young and sweet soul. It’s hard to believe it’s now been a year since she’s been gone. You can view the memorial video here: Remembering Neeta

Things started picking up at Ryerson in January as my responsibilities increased and I got to actually run some classes. I really need to help and teach in my life. I knew that already, but this just confirmed it. I am thankful that I’ve had so many champions that have given me the opportunities to enjoy this part of my life.

Around the same time, I had an old…friend come back into my life. It may have been short, but we both needed each other. And though I wasn’t the one, I knew I could be for someone. I may not have found them yet, but at least now, I have hope.

The summer started off slowly and I tried once again to convince Ryerson that they need me full time and see sense. I threatened to leave, and leave I did…sort of. It’s wasnt’ until a month after I joined one of the top three mayoral campaigns in Toronto that I was asked to return. How could I refuse? So I looked after 1500 first year students while working full time on the campaign.

Ah, yes…the campaign. That was the biggest curve ball I caught this year. I certainly learned a lot and met some wonderful people, especially the candidate himself, Joe Pantalone (@jpantalone – if he decides to pick it up again). I had the pleasure of working beside him for 12-14 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week for weeks at a stretch. But all good things must come to an end and I finally had to return the keys to the smart car. I’m not sure what Joe is going to do next, but I know he’ll land on his feet.Me and the Smart Car

And if all this wasn’t enough, I moved at Thanksgiving into my own apartment, two weeks before the end of the campaign. I haven’t lived on my own in 10 years, but I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it. Will try to have you all over sometime. (Don’t forget the wine.)

Unfortunately, my last grandparent, Phyllis Mills went to join her husband Gordon in eternal rest around Remembrance Day. As I did 12 years ago when Gradad left this earth, I got up as the eldest grandchild and read the 23rd Psalm. She led a full and great life. We are sure that Grandad was waiting for her when she arrived and said to her <insert Corrie Street/Ozzy Osbourne sounding English accent here> “It’s about bloody time woman! Where’s me tea?” We will still be having Christmas in her home this year, but it won’t be the same without her. Her online memorial can be found here: In Memory of Phyllis Mills. I’m going to update it in the coming months as I scan more photos for archiving.

So dear friends, as always there are more of you now than there were at this time last year; something I am always thankful for, especially at this time of year. And though the ones we’ve lost can never be replaced, I believe that the void that remains can be filled with the love of those that surround us.

As for the coming year, it can only get better. <Insert your divinity of choice here>-willing, my gradings will start again next September. Here’s hoping that with the new year comes new employment and good health.

I want to thank each and everyone of you that has taken time out of your busy lives, especially at this time of year to read this. If you are, you have touched my life and I am truly grateful. May you and those around you know peace, health and happiness all of your days.

With all my love

-Shanta Claus

aka: The Princess

Things to do in Toronto – MOCCA

This was my inspiration for writing this series. I went with the candidate to the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA). I don’t usually like museums, but I have to say that I was enthralled by what I saw. We’d had a long day so unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay as long as I might have liked, but I will definitely go back to see the exhibit by David Hoffos. It seems so simple, yet using televisions and reflection on glass makes a wonderful display, almost eerie at times. I don’t want to give it all away, but I want to give you a sense that you need to take some time going through this exhibit because it is worth it. Make sure that you add this to your rounds soon! It’s only on until December 31, 2010.

Things I Want To Do in Toronto

Now that the Mayoral Campaign is over and I’m back to somewhat normal hours, I decided to put together a list of things that I wanted to do in Toronto. Some of them I’ve done before, others I had no idea about before the campaign. I’m sure the list will grow as I delve through the last few months, but this is a start. I provide it because some of them you may not know about either. Follow my hashtag for updates. #ToDoYYZ

I had the second best job on the campaign

The Joe Mobile

Me and the Smart Car for the last time.

Those who know me, know that I would usually be the last one to join a political campaign, let alone a mayoral one in Toronto.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I had the second best job on the Joe Pantalone for Mayor Campaign. Joe of course had the best one. But I had the honour of being his personal mobile assistant for the last three months and of course, driving the Smart Car for the best candidate for mayor that Toronto had in this election.

I’m really sorry that he didn’t get elected, but even when I saw him earlier this week while waiting for the streetcar (yes, we had to give the car back and we were both taking transit), he had a big smile on his face and still had a joke to tell. I was lucky enough to see him everyday, share his experiences and listen to endless stories; all jam-packed into a few short months. I saw him probably more than anyone during the time I worked for him and I have to say that I have met very few people with as much integrity and honour about what they do everyday and what they defend than Joe Pantalone. I honestly enjoyed working with him. I wouldn’t have stuck with the campaign as long as I did if I didn’t get along with him.

Don’t worry friends, for I am sure that he will land on his feet and it will be big. I have no idea what it might be, but I hope that I can be a part of it. I’m sure that many Torontonians are already regretting not voting you in as the new mayor of Toronto. Hats off to you Joe. You are truly a class act. Congratulations.

PS. We got him addicted to Twitter, so make sure you follow him on #FollowFriday: @jpantalone. Maybe he’ll pick it back up again with some encouragement. I know I would look forward to it.