Municipal Court Survival GuideSill under development-LAST UPDATED ON SATURDAY, 14 JUNE, 1997 AT 4:37 PM.
So you got a summons to appear in court for a violation you did not
commit, are inaccurately or falsely accused. It happens everyday everywhere. It's happened to me a few times. What do you do? Do as I did, do a little homework and fight back!
I won, so can you! It's simple and easy once you know how. If you know you are guilty don't waste your time! If are a victim of the legal system on a municipal level prepare for a war that you will win!
This legal war's outcome will be decided whether you follow the rules, research the law and use the weapons of the legal arsenal.
The Strategy for Winning Legal Wars and tactics for Legal Battle
Your Battle Plan, Tactics, Weapons and Arsenal:
- Battle Plan:The Rules of Court are your rules of engagement of the enemy. The battle plan is mapped out in these rules. Go to the court library, local or county library, or purchase NJ Court Rules from Gould Publications or West Publishing. These books contain everything you need to know about the Art of Legal Warfare! Follow the rules and the court must abide by them.
- Weapons: Your tenacity is paramount. You will be dealing with incompetent and indifferent so-called legal professionals that for the most part don't really give a lot of themselves and don't expect a Pro Se, Pro Per or In Propria Persona to know much of anything. By the time they have figured out you know something their case will probably have been lost. File everything as per the Rules.
- Tactically: Get everyone's name. Very often they are afraid to give their names. Especially the clerks-the rude ones. Just keep coming at them.Make them prove everything especially in Discovery. See:Discovery.
- Research the Arsenal. This is where it is won or lost. Research the law in the Statues Annotated available at the local or court library.
The Cops, Municipal Court Clerks, Prosecutor and Judges!
The Police are officers of the court. They are human programmed robots, they will make mistakes (duh, act stupid and ignorant, kinda surprising that most now have college education and degrees?) in their testimony to the courts advantage, they are being coerced by their townships and police departments to collect revenue, they have quotas and they will distort the truth, create fiction and lie to see that the court will collect their fines. The municipal prosecutor is the cop's pal and so is the judge. You have little chance unprepared.
To start off, a trial starts when you first encounter the police. Assuming they have stopped you be courteous, ask a lot of questions, give no answers. Just your name, rank, driver's license and insurance card. Say nothing else to them that can use against you, make no excuses-it's an admission you did something wrong.
Going to Municipal Court:
Before the trial:Dealing with the Clerks
Get the names of the court clerks and everyone you talk to. Note the dates and times of those spoken with. They start the fraud right away. They go through the motions like of something like a real court but it's a farce. They will harass you by making you appear just to plead a ticket first like they do in the Newton, Sussex County, N.J. court. Denville (Morris County) court at least least let's you do a phone plea, but that case is another story on another page here. Teaneck (Bergen County) just sent a friend a notice that 12 years ago they he did not answer a summons and to appear now for not having a registration in possession! They made me appear to plead for a stop sign. No, a phone call was not good enough for them they had to take up my time to intimidate and inconvenience me to do that. Hoping you'll just pay up. Important:They may try to have your case heard as soon as the same week. Tell them that it is not enough time to prepare your case and that you may wish to consult an attorney. Get as much time as you can to prepare your case. Delay, delay delay!
Preparing for the Municipal Trial
Step 1: Understand what you being accused of: Speeding, stop sign, etc.Got to the court library and check the statute you are accused of violating. Understand the statute. The statutes are annotated which means they have interpeted the law and explains how the law is to be applied.
Step 2: Discovery. You are entitled by law to have the court order the police and prosecutor to turn over any evidence they will use against you in court.
Step 3: Interogetories. You also have the right to interogetories which is to ask questions by mail of the police. This form of discovery also allows you to obtain any documents that relate to your case. Example you are accused of speeding and radar was used, demand a copy of the radar calibration and test record and a copy of the officer's training record for the use of the radar detector.
Step 4: Get your evidence together: Photos, video tapes, witnesses anything to prove your case.
Making the Record: What is it and why is it so important?
You're Found Guilty Anyway!
They may find you guilty no matter what you say and they will ignore the law just the way they did in my case. So they took your money. Municipal courts are a court of limited jurisdiction. That basically means it's a money maker and no justice is really served there. What do you do now? Go to the First and Only Real Court! Why? Because that Court has a higher standard!
Appeal to Superior Court Law Division!
A checklist on how to appeal:
- Immediately or within 5 days request an appeal form from the municipal court clerk. Some have them some don't. Ask them for the forms and pay for the court transcript in advance.
- File a Notice of Appeal with Superior Court Law Division and the county prosecutor:
You need to be prepared with dealing with this court. My experience was that they were professional and compassionate but really are not out to help you, they will try to derail you and legally disarm you. They really don't want you to appeal as it takes their time and money and they would rather be taking your time and your money. They will try to mislead you as they did me but I had the Rules of Court and went by the rules-Follow the Rules!. Example:they told me I didn't have to worry about filing for another 5 months because that was when they were hearing cases again. I acted as dumb as they did but I Followed the Rules!
- Create a Notice of Timely Filing and attach it to the Notice of Appeal above.
- Wait for your transcript.
- The Transcript:When your transcript arrives you must create you Appellate Brief. Prepare 2 copies of the brief and serve 2 copies of transcript and serve them to the county prosecutor and the Superior Court. This must be completed in 45 days.
- Your Appellate Brief: Your argument why the municipal COurt was wrong.
- Answer Brief:You will get and Answer Brief from the Prosecutor's office answering your challenge to the Municipal courts's finding and ruling. In my case they just ignored my argument, you argue one thing and they argue another thing-they try to confuse apples with oranges.
- Reply Brief: You respond to the Answer brief referring to the law and how they are ignoring your argument.
- Appellate Hearing: You will get a hearing date but it's merely a formality. The judge has already read all the arguments and has made his decision. This is where you win or lose. The hearing lasts for about 10 minutes where the Judge will give you and the state to make a statement and then he will read you his ruling.
To the Legal Research Page
The Court Mistreat/Disrespect you?
Suggestion/Feedback Mail to Citizens for NJ Justice