* A venue for law students to participate in pretend trials for practice.
Do you think you could ever win, fighting a parking ticket?
You run out of time. The flag goes up. A bell rings at “Parking Control.” And they drive over and give a ticket.
How do you fight that? It says “Expired” right through the plastic bubble. What are you going to say? “No it doesn’t”?
The evidence is irrefutable. You over-parked, and you unequivocally have to pay.
Or do you?
Try this on your harmonica.
Simulated Moot Court: A made-up version of a pretend trial.
Non-lawyer Earl Pomerantz (albeit with six weeks of schooling before departing from law school under his belt) stands alone, addressing the judge.
NON-LAWYER EARL: Your Honor, and members of the jury.
JUDGE: There is no jury.
NON-LAWYER EARL: I’m sorry, Your Honor. I guess I’ve been watching too much Law & Order. I throw myself on the mercy of the Court.
JUDGE: That will not be necessary. Just make your case. Briefly.
NON-LAWYER EARL: Yes, Your Honor. And thank you for straightening me out on the “mercy” request. The truth is, I have represented myself in a courtroom only once before, and unfortunately that did not work out very well.
Long story short about that. A woman in an apartment we own, well, we needed her apartment, and, in such cases, Santa Monica bylaws require us to pay her a “Relocation Fee” – a pretty hefty one I might add. The thing is, however, is that the tenant had been living at her boyfriend’s place for over a year. So it seemed to us outrageous to have to pay her a “Relocation Fee” when she was…
JUDGE: Is any of this relevant, Mr. Pomerantz?
NON-LAWYER EARL: Not exactly, Your Honor, but also yes. You see, when I started arguing that, because the tenant was already, voluntarily, in effect, relocated, and we should therefore not be culpable for her “Relocation Fee”, the judge asked, “Do you want to go to jail, Mr. Pomerantz?”, and when I said “No, sir” he said, “Then pay her the money!” Gavel slam. “Next case!”
To me, that was an egregious miscarriage of justice, which I would like on the record as a justification for the mental state of the defendant’s lawyer, who, in this case, is also the defendant.
JUDGE: Mr. Pomerantz, the defendant’s lawyer’s mental state is not relevant ever. Nor is the defendant’s mental state during the trial. “Mental capacity” is taken into consideration only during the commission of the crime. And, frankly, I have never heard it raised in defense of a parking ticket.
Now, before it gets dark, will you please tell us why you believe you should not be required to pay this ticket?
NON-LAWYER EARL: Right away, Your Honor. I have three points, which I shall mention in order, one through three.
“Point Number One”: Owing to the closure of Santa Monica’s Central Post Office, the former Post Service “Pick-Up” depot at 1663 7th Street – where you would go to retrieve back mail from when you were on vacation, or deliveries that needed signatures which you were not home to sign for them – that facility has been converted into a de facto full-service postal operation. They do everything there now – stamps, mailings, “Parcel Post”…
JUDGE: The Court knows what services a post office supplies.
NON-LAWYER EARL: (TALKING QUICKLY)…in-addition-to-the-services-the-facility-provided-when-it was-previously-just-a-“Pick-Up”-depot-which-in-the-interest-of-time-I-shall-not- reiterate-which-brings-me-directly-to-Point-Number-Two:
JUDGE: Take a breath, Mr. Pomerantz. You are starting to turn red.
A NOW GASPING NON-LAWYER EARL STOPS AND TAKES A DEEP, RELAXING BREATH.
NON-LAWYER EARL: Water too, Your Honor?
JUDGE: Be my guest.
NON-LAWYER EARL: Thank you, Your Honor.
NON-LAWYER EARL POURS HIMSELF A GLASS OF WATER AND GULPS IT THIRSTILY DOWN HIS THROAT, HIS ADAM’S APPLE PULSATING UP AND DOWN. HE THEN GOES “AHHHH”, AND IMMEDIATELY RETURNS TO ACTION.
NON-LAWYER EARL: “Point Number Two”: The bank of parking meters directly in front of said erstwhile-“Pick-Up”-depot-now-surrogate-Post-Office has a maximum parking permissibility of thirty minutes. After that, it expires, at which point, barring a re-feeding of the meter, you are liable for a ticket. Let me hereby affirm that the “Thirty Minute Time Limit” was perfectly adequate when the facility was simply a “Pick-Up” depot, but – and this brings me to my next point, which I would like to be stipulated as “Point Number Three”…
JUDGE: “Points” do not need to be stipulated, Mr. Pomerantz.
NON-LAWYER EARL: Okay, then just plain “Point Number Three.”
JUDGE: Let me just speed things up at this juncture. What you’re telling the Court is that now that the facility’s services range beyond those of a “Pick-Up” depot, thirty-minutes is not enough time to complete your business in there, and it is therefore virtually certain that your time will run out, and you will therefore inevitably receive a ticket.
NON-LAWYER EARL: Which is not fair, verging on an outrage, and possibly a scam. When I arrived there, I was nineteenth in line. After nine minutes, I was eighteenth in line. There were customers carrying stacks of mail, multiple boxes, giant parcels that needed to be weighed and taped up and stamped and tracking numbered. By my calculation, it would have taken me easily an hour-and-a-half to get to the front of the line. Three times longer than the parking meter allows. And trust me, Your Honor, those customers were in no mood to hold my place in line while I ran outside to feed to meter. In which case, had I left, I would have found myself once again at the back of the line.
Your Honor, my record will indicate I am an upstanding member of the community who does not litter ever. But this is just wrong. I ask you to let the cleansing winds of justice blow mightily through this courtroom, and do the right and honorable thing in this matter. I beg you, Your Honor. (WAVING IT IN THE AIR) Tear up this parking ticket!
Thank you, Your Honor. The Defense rests.
JUDGE: Did your meter expire, Mr. Pomerantz?
NON-LAWYER EARL: It did, Your Honor.
JUDGE: Then you must pay the parking ticket.
NON-LAWYER EARL: But Your Honor…
JUDGE: Mr. Pomerantz, do you want to go to jail?
NON-LAWYER EARL: Oh, man! Not again!
JUDGE: I understand your frustration, but complaints about “meter duration” should be taken it up with the Parking Authorities. The Law requires this Court to enforce the violation, and I order you to pay the ticket.
A DEJECTED NON-LAWYER EARL DROPS HIS HEAD IN DEFEAT AND DISAPPOINTMENT. HE THEN TURNS AROUND, AND HEADS FOR THE EXIT.
JUDGE: Mr. Pomerantz…
NON-LAWYER EARL STOPS AND TURNS BACK.
NON-LAWYER EARL: (SUDDENLY BEAMING) Really?
WE FREEZE ON AN ELATED NON-LAWYER EARL.
BUT HE WON.
BUT HE STILL LOST.