Friday, March 14, 2003

on the john 2.3: I fought the law, and our special little guy...

I fought the Law, and our special little guy...

It's no secret that I have what might be considered a less than perfect driving record. With 19 lifetime speeding tickets, four reckless driving citations, three suspensions, and a revocation under my belt (none of which were alcohol related) I might be one of the foremost authorities on the subject. When your record is this terrible, it's strange how things constantly happen to your driving privileges without you really being aware. The tale which is about to unfold is a representation of that fact.

Back in November, I had kind of forgotten to get my car registered. So my friendly neighborhood Highway Patrol Officer graciously pulled me over on sight. He went through the usual routine, license, registration, bla bla bla. Asked for my excuse, which I didn't have. Then he went back to his car for about 3 minutes and came back and said, “Are you aware your license has been suspended.” “No?” I replied honestly. The officer gave me the citation, gave me a warning for not having my car registered, and sent me strait home to think about what I'd done. I come to find out the reason my license was suspended was because of this little thing called an SR-22. It's a little piece of paper that lets law enforcement know that the bearer of this document was caught driving without insurance some time in the past 5 years. The problem was, even though I had a copy in my car, that my insurance company hadn't sent a copy to the DMV. So the DMV suspended my license. Anyway the penalty for driving on a suspended license is $500.00. I didn't want to pay it, nor did I think I should since my insurance company assured me they had sent in the SR-22.

So I decided to fight the law! The other day I went to court for an arraignment. What an arraignment is; it's when all these supposed badie's go before a judge and just say either 'guilty' or 'not guilty'. If you say 'guilty' the judge sentences you right there, if you say 'not guilty', you come back at a later date. So, I show up and there are probably thirty people sitting in this room that looks like a Perry Mason TV stage. All kinds of people. I thought it would just be hardened criminals like me but all sorts turned out. Anyway they play this video twice, once in English, then in Spanish that explains your rights. Then the judge comes out and starts the long process. It starts with anyone who doesn't speak English. They have an interpreter come up... that part is very boring (if like me you don't speak spanish).

Then it's kind of fun to watch. People are in for all sorts of stuff. Almost everybody plead 'not guilty', then the judge just said “okay here's your next court date, be on your way.” What I found fascinating is the judge would talk those few who wanted to plead 'guilty' into pleading 'not guilty'. One guy got up there and it went like this:
SUSPECT: Your honor this is stupid, this is about two potatoes.
JUDGE: What's your plea?
SUSPECT: I don't know, I defiantly don' wanna come back for no other court date.
JUDGE: You understand for this crime the maximum penalty could be a $2500 dollar fine and up to 90 days in jail?
SUSPECT: Yeah, yeah, but aw I- this is about two potatoes, I paid for them and then they put me in-
JUDGE: Sir I don't want to hear your story, unless you plead guilty, and then the penalty could be up to $2500 and 90 days in jail. Now what's your plea?
SUSPECT: Well, I don't know your honor. I just got this job I don't think I can get time off.
JUDGE: I sure wouldn't plead guilty if I hadn't done anything. Prosecutor what's the case against MR. So and so?
PROSECUTOR: Apparently he opened a bag of potatoes, and put two more inside the bag then sealed it up and left the premises of the store.
JUDGE: Well sir, unless you think you can convince me otherwise right now, then plead 'not guilty', and take your case to a jury of your peers.

Eventually this goof plead not guilty. Constantly the Judge would say, "you understand the maximum penalty is..." and "Do you understand the maximum penalty?"

Eventually my turn came up after about two hours of sheer entertainment. I get up to the podium, the judge goes over my personal information, goes over my charges, and says “What do you plead?” I say, “Well actually your honor I understand quite well what my maximum penalty might be, but what is the minimum penalty I could incur?” He said, “Well, Zero, I have complete discretion.” I said, “oh then I want to take my chances with you, I plead 'guilty'.” Laughter could be heard from the audience behind me. He asked the Prosecutor what the case was, she explained, and then he asked me what I had to say. I told the aforementioned tale and explained why I thought I should, if not be let free, at least have the $500 fine lowered. (This all happened in about 2 1/2 minutes) Then before the judges reply the prosecutor says “Your honor the state has a deal to offer.” The judge says, “continue.” Prosecutor says, “We'll drop the fine to $150 and put him on six month good behavior probation.” The Judge looks at me and says. “Well?” I say, “Can I get a $50 dollar fine and have a one year probation?” The judge looks at the prosecutor, she says, “The state will accept that.” I say, “I'll take it.” Bustling conversation and quiet laughter fill the room behind me.

The judge smiles and says “Great. I love to see justice work so quickly like that.” As I walk out of the room down the isle with all those others looking at me. I smile and people are looking at me smiling, shaking their heads, I even got a thumbs up. Not many feelings rival how I felt in that moment it's one of those moments like when you bless the sacrament and can feel the breeze of 300 people saying amen in your direction, or like being the goalie who just won the tied game between two rival teams by not letting any shots in on the shoot out, or like sitting in a balcony listening to a crowd laugh at a movie you created. It was pretty great.

Just for those of you wondering, the special little guy in the title is not referring to the gender of our baby. You can't tell that till like 4 months you fools. What I was talking about is our new baby boy dog! His name is Vodka, and he is adorable. To Answer your first two questions I will use these next two paragraphs.

What kind of dog is Vodka you ask? He is a Dogo Argentino. It is the only pure bred dog from South America. His history is actually quite fascinating. Back oh a couple hundred years ago. In Argentina the people had a big problem with cougars and puma's coming out of the woods and eating people, kids mostly. Luckily they had a couple dog breeders who took on the task of creating a dog who could not only be courageous enough to defend their villages, be fast enough and smart enough to hunt the large cats and also wild boars (boars grow up to 400 lbs, are very ferocious, and at the time were their biggest source of food) but also be a good family dog, one that's great with kids, loyal, and in the home docile. 25 years and 10 dogs later and they had the Dogo Argentino. They are fairly rare in the United States, but adorable, and perfect for Lara and me.

Why on Earth did you name your dog Vodka? Well, back on my mission in the city of Leeds England whilst serving as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was working with a man Named Brian Birmum who we helped stop drinking in order to be baptized and join the church. He was a serious alcoholic, and it was a very difficult undergoing. However, upon succeeding Brian thought my assistance was significant enough to merit a trophy of sorts. He gave me a shirt. It was an Everclear (Not the Band, the Brand of Vodka) T-shirt, which was a favorite alcohol of his.

I have always had the shirt as well as a sentimental attachment to it. Now, I am married, and alas after having the shirt for 6 years... I was convinced to retire the shirt forever. It was hashed, the collar was separating from itself, it had holes, stains and other such discrepancies. The decision to get rid of the shirt was made when we purchased the Dog. When searching for a name, we decided to attach the sentimental hold I had on the shirt to the dog, and thus Vodka is his name. Vodka is great, he is only 8 weeks old, and for about 5 hours a day a little ball of energy. He has already displayed a very specific personality which is really cool. He loves Lara more than he loves me, (I think that’s the case with most everybody) and we're amazed at how smart he already is. Well, that’s about that. Lara is doing well, the sickness seems to have subsided for a time. We should have a due date for the baby very soon. Thanks for reading.


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