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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Default The Court Won't Provide Discovery to Me

    My question involves traffic court in the State of: California

    I received a ticket. The facts are unimportant other than the case was solid with picture proof etc. I followed good instructions on discovery requests certified letters to no less than 3 offices at the court, the bench clerk, the officers dept, district attorney, etc and..... no response was ever sent by anyone at all.

    I filed the TWBD anyhow and the clerks office sent a letter asking a question regarding it. Then later sent a letter saying I had never filed it, then a third letter indicating that it was filed. All this went into the second re-filing of the TWBD asking the court to dismiss based on the complete incompetence of the court thus far, and losing my initial filing and then finding it.
    The TWBD decision was made quite some time later, I think well over two months... and I was found guilty with no reason given of course.

    I went to the court clerk in SF which is a half day task at min, to file a trial de novo, and request the copy of the officers statement. The court clerk had no idea what i was asking for on either request and tried to get me to leave after waiting in line for 1 and a half hours (typical in San Francisco traffic clerk line). I insisted to speak with a supervisor who showed the clerk that I can file a trial de novo, though they stamped it with the wrong date and I had to make her correct it, HOWEVER neither the clerk or the supervisor would provide ANY COPY of a officer statement insisting they DO NOT have this information and I need to get it at "police legal" upstairs. I insisted and they did not in any way shape or form appear to have any access to this information. The run around begins. I went upstairs and spoke to a very nice officer who appeared to be at sergeant level and he looked in his system and said they don't have this info there at all once it goes to the court they don't have it any longer. He suggested showing up at the court during one of the traffic hearings and asking the bailiff what to do or the court clerk in the court.

    I''m at a complete loss. I have NO way of getting any evidence so far against me not before the TWBD and not now to see what statement was used against me. What can I do to force them to give me this evidence? Subpoena ? who in SF has this info if the "traffic court clerk window does not know of what I speak" Any advise is welcome.

    best, O

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    OH10
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    12,432

    Default Re: San Francisco Court Refusal to Hand Over Any Evidence Against Me. What's Next Ste

    You need to formally file a motion for discovery. Be patient, the experts on this are coming.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    8,674

    Default Re: San Francisco Court Refusal to Hand Over Any Evidence Against Me. What's Next Ste

    The court doesn't have the evidence, you can file all you want with them and nothing is going to happen. It has to go to the people who have it (i.e., the police department).
    You won't get dismissed on the basis of incompetence unless the court is incompetent enough to by that.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2009
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    LA LA Land
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    9,194

    Default Re: San Francisco Court Refusal to Hand Over Any Evidence Against Me. What's Next Ste

    Quote Quoting cosmicflux
    View Post
    The facts are unimportant...
    Actually, they are important... At least as far as the scope of what info you are likely to get. It wouldn't make a difference as far as getting the officer's declaration but to even begin to predict what evidence should he/she have attached, it is important to know what the citation was for!

    Also, what do you mean by "the case was solid with picture proof etc."?

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    The court doesn't have the evidence
    That would be true with regards to discovery, Ron... When it comes to the officer's declaration, that should be in the court file!


    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    You won't get dismissed on the basis of incompetence unless the court is incompetent enough to by that.
    I agree!

    What you are likely to get is "immediate disclosure"... Any other expectations and I think you're only fooling yourself!
    I am right 97% of the time... Who cares about the other 4%!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    71,820

    Default Re: San Francisco Court Refusal to Hand Over Any Evidence Against Me. What's Next Ste

    The court file is a public record. You can review it consistent with the court's policies for access, and purchase copies of whatever it contains.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    South-Central Cali
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    1,276

    Default Re: San Francisco Court Refusal to Hand Over Any Evidence Against Me. What's Next Ste

    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    Actually, they are important...
    Yes! Humor us, and post the violation you were cited for and brief details.

    As for the papers in your file, traffic clerks in CA can sometimes be (or at least act) ignorant. Put the following in a Word document, at least 13 point size, sign it, and make 3 copies:


    1/19/2012

    REQUEST FOR COPIES OF DOCUMENTS FROM MY CASE FILE

    Dear Clerk,

    I am the defendant in traffic (criminal) case no. 1234567AB. I require--forthwith--copies of the following documents from the case file in this matter:

    • Notice and Instructions to Arresting Officer (form TR-210)
    • Officer's Declaration (form TR-235 with all attachments)


    This request is pursuant to Government Code section 68150, Court Rule 2.550(c), well-established California Supreme Court jurisprudence and my federal constitutional right to due process. Please note that a court record is presumed to be open unless it is sealed or otherwise exempted from disclosure by law.

    If you are denying this request, please briefly state the reason(s) below, include your full name and title and file-stamp this document. I will immediately be petitioning the appellate division for a writ of mandate to command the clerk of this court to produce the copies requested.

    Reason for denial: _________________________________
    Name: ____________________
    Title: _____________________

    Thank you for your assistance and cooperation,

    (your signature)
    Cosmic Flux

    Defendant in pro. per.




    Take it to the traffic window, briefly explain request, and give the clerk a copy. If they give you any BS, ask to talk to a supervisor and make sure they read the request. If they still deny, have them fill out the bottom and stamp it with a date-stamp. THEN, go to the criminal clerk's window (different from the traffic window), and ask them politely for the copies. If they say go talk to traffic, tell them traffic won't help, and see if that gets you the documents.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    11

    Default Re: The Court Won't Provide Discovery to Me

    quirkyquark, thank you for the help on this. I will try this. I do believe the supervisor really didn't know that she should have this. I do not believe she was trying to give me the run around but who knows. I will print and try this as well. IF the court clerk does not oblige, sign or get me the copy of my file, can I file with the court to get this??

    Can I send this request in or subpoena it? I do have a feeling it still won't get me the statement of the officer. Also is there anything that can be done since I requested discovery and sent it to all the departments and nobody bothered. Is this something one could , in court raise a fuss about? (granted it will be trial de novo)?

    As to specifics other wanted to know about, it was a illegal left turn (surprise in sf!!!) on 16th street off of mission street, the facts are that the no left turn sign is completely obstructed by vegetation, and the one at the intersection is blocked by the double length busses that pass by about 20 per half hour the other direction. So there is a very good case for notice not being provided as to the turn. The pictures clearly show this, though as I mentioned since the court lost the filing once I would not be surprised that the court never saw the pictures.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2009
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    LA LA Land
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    Default Re: The Court Won't Provide Discovery to Me

    Quote Quoting cosmicflux
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    Also is there anything that can be done since I requested discovery and sent it to all the departments and nobody bothered.
    What was it that you requested? What items?


    Quote Quoting cosmicflux
    View Post
    Is this something one could , in court raise a fuss about?
    Sure... If you feel the officer might have a document you would like to review before the trial starts, bring it up before the officer begins his testimony, and request a recess from the judge so you can go over it and see if it helps you much (that's the "immediate disclosure" I mentioned in my last post). With a left turn violation, I honestly cannot think of a single discovery item that will make much of a difference!


    Quote Quoting cosmicflux
    View Post
    the facts are that the no left turn sign is completely obstructed by vegetation...
    Its not really "completely obstructed"...


    Now here is how the CA MUTCD giving the Standard and the guidance recomendation (the "No Left Turn" symbol sign, BTW, are the "R3-2"):

    Quote Quoting 2010 CA-MUTCD - Page 2B-19
    Standard:
    The No Right/Left Turn (R3-1/R3-2) sign shall be placed at an intersection to indicate that a right/left turn is prohibited.
    Guidance:
    Turn Prohibition signs should be placed where they will be most easily seen by drivers intending to turn.

    The "Standad" requirement was met (twice, i.e. 2 signs) and the "Guidance" (as described below) was also followed.


    Guidance:
    On a two-way street, one sign should be used at the near right corner and one sign at the far right corner, facing
    approaching traffic. On a one-way street, signs should be placed on the near left and right corners facing approaching
    traffic.


    Quote Quoting cosmicflux
    View Post
    and the one at the intersection is blocked by the double length busses that pass by about 20 per half hour the other direction.
    So you're approaching the intesection, and it just happened to be at one of 3 one minute periods where that double length bus was coming through from the other direction... That's some tough luck!


    Quote Quoting cosmicflux
    View Post
    So there is a very good case for notice not being provided as to the turn.
    I wouldn't say it a "very good case"... I'd say it more subjective than that!


    Here is the "Guidance" from the CA-MUTCD regarding placement of both od the signs you had issues with:


    [QUOTE2010 CA-MUTCD - Page 2B-19]Guidance:
    On two-way multi-lane roads, the No Left Turn (R3-2) sign should preferably be placed overhead over the left lanes, in the median adjacent to the left lanes, or at the far left corner facing approaching traffic where they will be most easily seen by drivers intending to turn.[/QUOTE]

    The portion I underlined is in fact the exact location where that sign is placed... Note that it describes it as the location "where it will be most easily seen by drivers intending to turn"...


    Your only hope is going to be with a VERY sympathetic judge who maybe found himself up against a similar predicament. Either that or the office not appearing.
    I am right 97% of the time... Who cares about the other 4%!

  9. #9
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    Jan 2012
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    11

    Default Re: The Court Won't Provide Discovery to Me

    quirkyquark, thank you for the advise.
    The sign on the right before the intersection is pretty much covered from vegetation, and the pictures do show this. This intersection is one of the busiest in an incredibly busy area of busy san francisco. I counted 20+ busses cross in 30 min so the chance of the bus blocking this is high, and I have pictures of this happening from a few angles, as I went out into traffic and took the photos.
    But as you say I believe none of this matters much... At least I will have my day in court. I have already filed trial de novo. I will try and get discovery on the spot and show I requested it and was ignored. Lets hope as you say he doesn't show up none the less. I have another citation I have to file a TBWD for so Ill go back to the clerk and give them your letter above, Ill let you know how it goes. SF traffic clerks are BAD and I mean BAD... after a normal 2 hour wait in line (no exaggerating) they usually barely speak english never mind understand any request. In fact I have never gotten one who knew what a TBWD was until the super came over.
    cosmicflux

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Arizona
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    348

    Default Re: The Court Won't Provide Discovery to Me

    Quote Quoting cosmicflux
    View Post
    quirkyquark, thank you for the advise.
    SF traffic clerks are BAD and I mean BAD... after a normal 2 hour wait in line (no exaggerating) they usually barely speak english never mind understand any request. In fact I have never gotten one who knew what a TBWD was until the super came over.
    cosmicflux
    No surprise there. If their office is anything like ours, most of the clerks who know anything about civil procedure are the specialists in the back office. I doubt that most of the clerks in our office who work the counter could answer anything more than a basic question. They have no idea how to deal with any customer question that is out of the ordinary and no practical training as to the reasons behind the process. They're only trained to do one job-input data and collect money. Then again, I see so many screwed up filings from attorneys offices that I am also of the opinion that a lot of the paralegals should be on the unemployment line, too.

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