As some of you know, I was sited for speeding in WA (40 in a 30), asked for a contested hearing, asked for discovery, and got a lot of great help in this forum for how to prepare my defense. The key point in my defense was that there was not sufficient foundation for using the moving radar reading as evidence against me, since the officer did not say in his statement that the SMD speed window matched his patrol car speed. The moving radar only knows how fast someone else is going, if you first correctly tell it how fast *you* are going. In addition, there was quite a bit of discussion on the forums about the officer submitting his statement six weeks after the fact, and including new information that was not mentioned on the ticket or his notes. One creative argument was that the officer could not submit two different statements, another that it spoke to recall and was suspicious.
Thus armed with a little knowledge (and a lot of notes) I showed up to court, ready to defend my case. The judge asked me to raise my right hand. I politely stated I had some preliminary motions. Then I apologized for my lack of legal knowledge, and said that I hoped the court would forgive my making some arguments in plain English. I then made motions to suppress the officers statement for the reasons above, and motions to dismiss, but the judge was clearly not in the mood to listen.
In days previous to my hearing I took the time to come in to court just to watch the proceedings, and I observed in his courtroom that lawyers and people representing themselves were treated completely differently. The lawyers with respect, the people with disdain... as if they were criminals. I observed when a lawyer brought up "a technicality" with the client not present, the ticket would be dismissed with a 'good job' wink, and followed by friendly small talk with the judge and prosecutor, but a person representing themselves trying to speak like a normal person and be honest, would be scorned and convicted - as admitting to going even one mile over the posted speed limit is breaking the letter of the law.
So I knew "my word against the officer" would not help me, and I attempted to do what the lawyers were doing, by focusing on the technical points. However when I did that (and in three days I was the only defendant representing themselves who had any kind of legal points as a defense) the judge got really angry, as if I was 'acting above my station' or something. When I got to my third and final line of defense with a motion to dismiss based on the SMD speed window argument, he interrupted me to say something to the effect of, "You need to stop making motions and just testify. It doesn't matter what motion you make to dismiss, I will uphold the officers statement." And later he also rebuked me by saying "You came in here trying to make all sorts of technical arguments, when you should have just testified and been honest... I find the infraction committed."
Now, I understand the judge has the right to find me guilty of the infraction, even if I have the best defense in the world, and a superior court will not care about the "facts" of the case or the verdict. HOWEVER - I am considering an appeal based on "errors of law" and I wonder if I am correct in suspecting that when the judge told me he would deny any other motions to dismiss (regardless of what I had to say) so I might as well stop making motions, and two, when he stopped to chastise me from the bench about my defense, he was making a legal error or breaking the judicial code of conduct.
It seems to me the judge can not, before finding you guilty, state his displeasure with your defense strategy, nor tell you how you should have defended yourself. It also seems to me that a judge can not interrupt me to say he will refuse any other motions regardless of what they are, because he's angry. Then chewing me out for using "technicalities" as he puts it, is my legal right - and it is inappropriate for him to dissuade me from a valid defense.
Lastly it was insulting that he presumed I was not being honest in my testimony. I wasn't sure how much to say, so I just made a very brief statement. Then he asked if I had anything more to add, and I said no. Then he started talking about stuff in the officers notes, and when I tried to respond to those points he would just interrupt me and say "You already said you had nothing more to add. You're done testifying." What am I supposed to do, recall myself as a witness? Plead the 5th? What a way to trample on people with no legal knowledge by tricking them with procedures. Is he the judge or the prosecutor? Hmpf.
But anyway, I am concerned that if out of the entire hearing transcript, perhaps two or three lines show inappropriate conduct or prejudice (or whatever other legal error applies, if I understand correctly) if that would be enough to win the appeal, or if it would just make a bunch of rural county judges laugh about my protests and legal ignorance.
Thanks for your feedback everyone!