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SEC: Take a lesson from the Snow Plow Police

February 4, 2009

The following story is true. The names and places were changed to protect the innocent.

Rocky received a Summons from his Town’s Snow Plow Police yesterday. The Summons reads: “You have committed a violation of Sec 196-37 and in the name of the People of the State of New York, you are hereby summoned to appear before the Town Court. Failure to respond will be treated as an omission in appearing before the Court, and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.”

Rocky’s TIVO has thousands of Law & Order episodes, so he knew exactly the right course of action: Remain silent. Get a lawyer.

Rocky (to usual lawyer): “I need help. The town has accused me of plowing snow into the road. And I’m innocent. I don’t even own a snow plow.”

Lawyer: “Of course you’re innocent. All of my clients are innocent. But I can’t represent you. Snow plow law is a complex subspecialty. If you need to find a lawyer, search in the Martindale Hubbell directory under Snow Plow Law.”

Rocky: “But I thought you’re supposed to be one of the top lawyers in the country.”

Lawyer: “I am. I’ve never lost a case. But my area of expertise is recycling law. I assist defendants against allegations that they mixed the paper with the plastic in their recycling bins.”

Rocky: “What should I do?”

Lawyer: “I can’t represent you. But here’s what I think: You’ve got a few choices. You can get a continuance until the spring. By then, the snow will have melted, and the judge might dismiss the case on lack of evidence. You can ignore the summons, and get sentenced to a fine and jail time. You can plead guilty, pay the $25 fine, and hope that this matter never comes to light when you run for the US Senate. You can plead innocent, hire a lawyer at $900 per hour, and when you are convicted, you can appeal to the New York Supreme Court. When the conviction is upheld at that court, you can appeal to the New York State Court of Appeals. When the conviction is upheld at that court, you can file a habeas corpus petition with the Federal District Court. When that Court upholds the verdict, you can appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. When that Court upholds the verdict, you can file a motion for an En Banc Hearing. When they turn you down, you’ll have to pay the $25 fine.”

Rocky: “How much will all of this cost?”

Lawyer: “It’s impossible to know the costs of litigation in advance.”

Rocky: “Just a ball park figure please.”

Lawyer: “It would be unethical for me to answer that question.”

Rocky: “Please??”

Lawyer: “As a hypothetical, I’d guess 2 or 3.”

Rocky: “Thousand?”

Lawyer: “No, two or three million dollars.”

Rocky (sotto voce): “Larry Craig, I feel your pain.”

As Rocky reaches for his checkbook to plead guilty, pay the $25 fine, and risk his family’s humiliation for associating with an ex-con, he feels a renewed confidence in our justice system. Most civil servants and regulators are hard-working, diligent and dedicated to their important jobs.

  1. masteroftheuniverse
    February 4, 2009 at 8:48 pm



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