Useful Law Degree
True Story - I always wanted a hopped up muscle car when I was
younger. I couldn't afford one. Now I can, and I have one. It's a
'70 Mustang,and her name is Bessie. Bessie is the proto-typical
juvenile, male-caveman, scratch yourself and drink cheap beer car.
Chromed engine, dual exhaust, 250 horsepower, big tires. I'm
driving Bessie on Beach Boulevard behind an ancient guy in a beat up
truck. He decides to turn in front of me without a blinker. I
accelerate to swerve and avoid him, and this crazy, over-aerobicized
woman jumps in front of my car with her hand up.
Meet Ethel, the neighborhood busybody/nuisance. She proceeds to yell
in my window, "Hey, slow down you idiot." I'm a well-bred, mellow
guy by nature, so I ignore this. As I drive away, she yells, "Jerk"
at me again. Twice?
I turn around and drive up next to her. "Do you have a problem?" I
"Yeah, why are you driving like an idiot?"
"I was driving like an idiot? How, exactly?"
"You were speeding. I watched you."
"You were? I see. How did you measure my speed?" (Ever the
"I heard you."
"So, you measured my speed by ear?" (Ed. note: The Doppler Effect
could be applicable here)
"I can hear."
"How fast did you HEAR me going?"
"Look," she says, "I don't have to take this. Here comes a cop.
I'll wave him down."
THE POLICE? This woman is a trip. She waves him down, and proceeds
to tell him that she observed me speeding. "What happened?" he asks.
I told him the story, and told him that I accelerated to an
indicated 33 mph (the speed limit is 35) to avoid a collision.
"Are those mufflers legal?" Ethel asks.
She's pushing it. I reply, "I have a C.A.R.B. exemption for them."
I give the paperwork to the cop. She tries to find another thing to
screw me with.
She says, "What about those big tires? They CAN'T be legal." I
began feeling little overheated gears in the back of my head start to
"These tires were available on the 1970 Boss 429," I told the cop,
"Which makes them street legal as a replacement."
Ethel gets angry. She whines, "So you're not going to give out any
tickets to this jerk?"
The cop says, "No, I am not." I've about had it. So I say, "Sir,
this woman told you that she left the street at the corner, and then
she met up with my car here. According to Title 39, pedestrians have
to cross the street at a right angle. This woman admitted she
crossed at a 45-degree angle, which is a ticketable offense."
"What?" The cop looks confused.
"Also, she told you that she walked in front of my car to stop me.
A citizen can't detain someone without probable cause, under Terry v.
Ohio (my new favorite case). Since she couldn't measure my speed,
she had no probable cause to detain me. That is anindictable
The cop says, "But, I didn't see any of this."
"But," I said, "I did, and, as an officer of the Court, I can demand
her arrest. I'll agree to dismiss the Illegal Detention charge, but
I want her cited for not crossing at a right angle and Hazardous
Conduct on a Public Street."
The cop called his Lieutenant, and after the cop told the story, he
authorized the summonses. She went home with $215.00 worth of
traffic tickets, and they are worth a total of four points against
her license, as well as the appropriate insurance surcharge! Of
course, if she demands a trial I won't prosecute. But the look on
her face as she walked away was more than enough satisfaction for me.
Yeah, I've got a law degree, and I'm not afraid to use it.