Before the day of the hearing dawned, I paid a visit to Howard Stoltz the barber to get my long hair trimmed. I think I shaved off my beard as well. I wanted to present a clean cut appearance for the law enforcement community in Norristown.
By prearrangement I met my attorney Steven Sosnov a half hour ahead of time in front of the District Justice’s office. We went over a few things and then he wanted to drive past the actual scene of the crime. I had insisted that it wasn’t even possible to accelerate to 62 mph at that stretch of the street, and he wanted to see for himself, so he disappeared for a few minutes, while I went into the office to wait for the hearing.
There was a waiting area with a few seats, and the justice was behind a window rather like in a Post Office, so I could tell this was all going to be relatively informal. There was also a clerk back there, so I let the clerk know who I was and what I was there for, then I took a seat in the waiting area.
While I was waiting, a police officer entered, and I recognized him as the younger of the two who had interacted with me on that fateful day when my life changed. He glanced at me and then went to the clerk’s window where he proceeded to chat. Clearly they knew each other well.
After a few more minutes my lawyer returned. Spying me, he came over and sat down next to me.
He told me I was mistaken about the speed. He thought it was definitely possible to accelerate to 62 mph at that section of the street. I said it wasn’t in the car that I drove. Then he wondered what method they had used to clock my speed. I said I had no idea.
By now it was slightly past the time for the hearing to start, and the redneck older cop still hadn’t shown up. Since he was the one who had actually stopped me, I thought he would have to be there to testify.
Then I saw the young cop looking around, and I heard him say, “I guess Mr. Troutman isn’t going to show up, is he?”
The clerk pointed to me and said, “He’s sitting right over there.”
Clearly, my new haircut had fooled the cop. It also reinforced my opinion that there had been a prejudice against a longhaired young person.
So the justice called the hearing to order and the cop asked for a continuance because the other cop couldn’t be there. I don’t recall if he even gave an excuse.
That’s when my attorney decided he needed to show he was earning his fee, so he jumped up and objected: “This is a hardship for my client to appear here; he has driven a long way, he’s taken off work to get here. To ask him to come back—”
The justice cut him off and said he was granting the continuance and I’d be receiving the notice in the mail. Adjourned.
The cop started to leave, but my lawyer asked him what method they had used to measure my speed. The cop just ignored him and left.
To be continued