So I received a response from one of the recipients I sent my discovery request to in my traffic citation case. You remember, the same organization the traffic court told me was in charge of prosecuting the case?
Hold up a sec. I have to settle myself down a bit before I can continue.
Alright. I’m slightly more composed now. I was on the floor laughing uncontrollably because a sheriff’s department clerk called me to ask for…
You know something? I’m not quite sure and neither was the clerk.
Best I can derive upon attempting to pull away from the clerk’s mouth the tangled morass of English language confusion is that the OCSD wants a copy of my citation.
Wait. One of their officers wrote it, and now they want a copy?
So, essentially, I am being asked to bear witness against myself and GIVE THEM the evidence with which to prosecute me. The same evidence that their own agent originally issued and then, apparently, lost.
What else am I to derive from a clerk who calls me asking for a copy of the citation?
As much as I would like to help out, I’m gonna pass. Because if the sheriff’s department lost THEIR copy of the citation that THEIR OWN officer wrote, then I don’t know how else to put this except:
Too bad, so sad. Not my problem. This is a discovery request, not a discovery call me up and ask me for your evidence because your officer lost his copy.
I’m not an officer of the court, but I distinctly remember a coupla, maybe three Criminal and Con Law classes mentioning something about not being compelled to testify against oneself.
Yes, I’m quite certain I read that somewhere.
Right. Here it is. It’s part of that thing we call the Bill of Rights. Some moldy, old document full of legalese that nobody but lawyers read anymore.
Specifically, the Fifth Amendment states in pertinent part:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Food For Thought
Can we infer that the officer in question, since he may not have kept his copy of the citation that he issued perhaps may also not even have -in his wildest imagination- EVER had to appear in traffic court to testify against a defendant because the citizen fought the ticket and forced the D.A. to prove each and every element of their case?
Naw, couldn’t be. These are Official People we’re talking about here, not the Keystone Kops. And a law enforcement agency tasked with keeping our streets and byways safe from traffic scofflaws such as myself would surely make it a point to keep their official records handy in the event that one of the scofflaws would maybe submit a discovery request for copies of all of their evidence they have against the defendant in which to prosecute the case.
I’ll let you decide for yourselves as to how on-the-ball these folks are. I’m still pondering that one. May take me awhile…