The Hearing Notice for the second hearing arrived a few days later, but it wasn’t scheduled until July 22, a whole month to wait.
When the hearing date came, I drove to Norristown, I met my attorney Steven Sosnov, and we waited in the waiting area, and—
Neither of the cops showed up.
The starting time for the hearing arrived, my attorney pointed out the AWOL cops, and the justice found in my favor. Adjourned.
“Hurry, get out of here! Quick! Vamoose!” said Steven. “Before they have a chance to show up! Out of here!”
I skedaddled. Though I didn’t expect them to make an appearance.
I didn’t think they had measured my speed in any way, so they didn’t have any evidence. The previous hearing they had asked for a continuance just as a way to harass me, but they figured they probably couldn’t get away with that tactic a second time.
Had I really needed a lawyer? Probably not. It likely would have worked out the same way without Steven Sosnov, but I had no way of knowing that. During one of our short little chats Steven had said I should always fight those traffic tickets, meaning I should always hire an attorney. Maybe so, but had those cops been honest and written me up for the speed I was actually doing, I would have just paid the fine, taken my points, and maybe learned my lesson.
So why hadn’t they? Possibly because they didn’t actually know how fast I had been going because they didn’t have a radar gun or anything else to measure my speed. And rather than use a realistic estimate, I still think the older cop had let his prejudice get in the way. Then again, I’m a white guy. Perhaps I should just be glad I don’t fall into one of the minority groups who might have gotten really harassed.
I have an empty envelope from the District Justice that was mailed the same day as the hearing. Presumably it contained the paperwork showing that I was exonerated. Maybe that paperwork is lurking around somewhere amid the stuff I haven’t sorted through yet. I think I still have the original ticket somewhere as well, I just haven’t found it.
But I do have the bill that Steven Sosnov sent me. Also postmarked on the day of the hearing.
It came to $75.
Which was a lot of money to me in those days. The better part of a week’s wages. I wonder what I’d pay today for comparable representation. I asked a lawyer and she suggested that the going rate for a comparable lawyer today might be at least $250 per hour (or as much as $400) and as this required two visits to the District Justice I might be billed for two hours—or possibly three (notice the “related matters” in the bill).
Norristown has been on my shit list ever since.