Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Civic-gate: Part III (Affirming Truths and Personal Conclusions)

Civic-gate: Part I

Civic-gate: Part II

Even though the attorney's quip seemed encouraging, it was still a total mystery as to what was said at the bench between the two attorneys and the judge. It was apparent that the judge was annoyed by my attorney's insistence that the trial dates be congruent with my schedule. He was a man who would waste no time.

My mom, sister and I filed out of the courtroom and sat down on molded plastic chairs. I watched my attorney as he spoke ardently with the prosecutor and officer for several minutes. As time went on, the conversation became more relaxed and at the end, he even clasped hands with my two "foes." But still, he gave no answers.

"Alright. We're going back in. When our case is called, go up to the podium and wait. Say nothing."

Once again, I followed him into the courtroom, my mom and sister trailing behind. After a petty theft case and traffic violation, my case was called again. We made our way up to the podium and the judge addressed the city attorney,

"Have you come to a decision?"

"We move to dismiss, Your Honor."

"Agreed, Your Honor. We also move to dismiss."

"Alright then. Case dismissed," the judge announced with a slam of the gavel. "Good luck with your wedding."

I think it would be an understatement to say that I was in complete shock. The happenings of the last half hour were nearly a complete mystery to me. However, once we had filed out of the courthouse and into the bright sunlight, my attorney finally explained the situation. The judge got very impatient when it became apparent there would be a potential delay in the trial proceedings. He invited the attorneys to the bench to explain the situation. My attorney explained that there was a great likelihood of my success at a trial because there was evidence that the officer had not uncovered or reported the case thoroughly or accurately (i.e. the fact that I had driven to work in the dark the day of the call and could have missed the scrape before that afternoon.) In this explanation, it also became apparent that the city attorney was very ignorant of some of the evidence and facts. Here is an excerpt of written correspondence from my lawyer that arrived after the hearing:

"The judge indicated to both parties that...if this was an unlawful and/or improper charge, he was going to be tremendously angry at the city. Also, he indicated that if you were not being truthful, he was going to be tremendously angry at you. With that, the judge suggested that we speak with Officer X, who happened to be in the courtroom for other matters.

I spoke with Officer X in a manner perhaps only I can speak to him. I don't mean to sound conceited. As I told you from the beginning, I have a long-standing history with him. The city attorney also spoke with him. In the end, the city attorney moved to dismiss this case."

Bottom line: The city attorney had walked into the situation with minimal information and only went on Officer X's word. Officer X, according to my attorney, had quite a history of trying to put cases like mine through the system. Among many locals, he was known to be a bully. He walked into my situation, saw all the pieces weren't put together, and immediately decided I had lied. He then tried to intimidate me into admitting his conclusion. And intimidated I was...enough to flee the parking lot in search of help so he would not drag me away!

As the case progressed over two months, it became clear that he knew he did not have all his ducks in a row. He initimidated my mother over the phone and tried to get me to take a polygraph to "prove" my innocence. Fortunately, he did not get his way. Unfortunately, it cost me $1500.

As with all trials and tribulations, this one affirmed truth and led to personal conclusions.

Affirmed Truths

1. Romans 8:28, Proverbs 3:5-6
No matter what happens, God's hand is in the situation. I truly believe there are no coincidences in life. It was uncanny that out of all the lawyers I could have called, I ended up only making only one call to one lawyer who was the self-proclaimed archnemesis of Officer X. He vowed to see this through and see that Officer X would not bully another person into an unjust conviction. Many little things in that hearing came together to bring about my case's dismissal...my wedding date, an impatient judge etc. God is the very definition of justice and the supreme advocate. I don't think any human could have brought all those circumstances together in such a way.

2. Blessed be God in His angels and in His Saints. -The Divine Praises
The day after the incident (October 1st) is St. Therese of Lisieux's feast day. She is my patron saint and I am confident she advocated for me in prayer from heaven. I also learned a lot about and grew close through prayer to St. Thomas More, a man who was also unjustly accused and executed. Last, but not least, friends and family were there for me with listening ears and prayerful hearts. Without all of the support from loved ones, it would have been very difficult for me to make wise decisions and stay sane.

Personal Conclusions

1. If at all possible, do not make a police report alone!
2. Not all officers can be trusted. Before this incident, I had always had a blind trust of police officers...protectors of those who cannot protect themselves, right? This situation showed me that there is corruption everywhere and one must be on their guard.
3. As a rule, do not run away from police officers.
4. Our justice system has flaws i.e. the "good ol' boys network" is still alive and well in many small towns. (I firmly believe the city attorney put that bogus warrant through as a favor to Officer X.)
5. MOST IMPORTANT: Stick to the truth, no matter what. Our conduct has far-reaching and eternal significance.
6. Forgiveness is necessary for peace. I needed to work through the forgiveness process with Officer X. Some may say that forgiveness means saying what the person did was OK. Not at all. Forgiveness acknowledging the wrongful act and releasing this person from anger, bitterness, resentment and contempt, and thereby releasing yourself from those chains as well. Reconciliation was never my intent, but forgiveness and letting go of the anger was essential.

And now, four years later, I am thankful and happy to say I can look back and smile because God worked everything out for my good and the good of the community...Officer X is retired and off the street!

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