Sunday, April 4, 2010

Planned Preliminary Motions for Careless Driving Charge in New Jersey

Traffic law is something the average person encounters every day. Naturally, it is not covered in law school. Does any one know of any law school offering any course in the rules of the road. I would appreciate hearing about it.

I am disputing this ticket. It has a potential 15 day jail sentence, a serious potential consequence justifying adequate discovery. It is a criminal charge, with a beyond a reasonable doubt burden on the prosecution.

Here is the law: 39:4-97. Careless driving

39:4-97. A person who drives a vehicle carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property, shall be guilty of careless driving.
Amended 1951,c.23,s. 54; 1955,c.220,s. 2; 1995,c.70,s. 3.

It has been declared constitutional by the New Jersey Supreme Court despite an admission of vagueness. The reasoning for upholding the law is that no law can specify the endlessly wide range of dangerous driving.

I demanded full discovery on the records of the officer, including health, driving, complaints, productivity. Due to the subjective nature of the elements of the law, the credibility, character, training of the officer are material.

Here are the planned preliminary motions to dismiss.

1) Violation of Rule 7:7-7 (b) by the prosecution. This charge fulfills the consequence of magnitude in the form of possible jail time. It mandates the production of documents under the control of the government. I move for a dismissal of the charges since the violation made an adequate defense impossible. The subjective, opinion nature of the elements of the charge make the character, training, and knowledge of the officer highly material. I also request sanctions against the personal assets of the prosecutor, not those of the taxpayer for his refusal to obey the clear language of the Rule of Evidence. This stonewalling of discovery is by agents of the prosecutor. He should be held accountable.

2) The sole witness against me will be a fact witness. Yet the elements of the law call for an opinion. It should be against policy to allow the police to make up the law in accordance with their personal preferences. A fact witness may not express the opinions, calculations, and tastes called for in the law.

3) The subjective nature of the charge, and the absence of any objective, measurable damage, make the burden of beyond a reasonable doubt mathematically impossible to meet, unless the probability of damage was greater than 80%. There is no way to show that in the absence of any damage. There is no scientific evidence to support such an increase in the probability of damage.

4) Criminal evidence is subject to the Daubert standard for reliability of evidence. The speculative and subjective nature of the police charge violate the Daubert standard and require an expert opinion to help the court measure the actuarially proven increase in risk.

5) The prosecutor does not dispute that the officer violated four New Jersey traffic laws in this encounter. He just feels it does not matter. The prosecutor says, there is no rule the lawbreaking of the agent of the prosecutor should impact on the validity of the charges against the defendant. Yet, it should be against public policy for a court to reward law breaking with a favorable verdict. If the court allows such law breaking, and actually rewards it, it will get a lot more of it in the future. The court cannot immunize the violation of the law by the police without barring the fruit of the poisoned tree.

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