3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Since this book is written by an attorney, it would seem to be self-recommending. However, the editorial review is somewhat misleading when it states, "Concepts are valid in all states, and additional information is included for those with infractions in Florida." While the broadest of the concepts Stern discusses may have universal application, they comprise less than one third of the book's meager length. The remainder of the book is devoted to practical information relative to specific types of infractions (e.g., speeding tickets, radar, etc.) - information you might hope to find in a book written by an attorney. Unfortunately, this content is written strictly according to the statutes in Florida. Evidently, Florida has very strict requirements for establishing a prima facie case in traffic infraction trials, meaning the police have to jump through a lot of procedural hoops in order to prove you guilty. Stern makes it sound as though it is relatively easy to win in court if you simply know which questions to ask to show that the state is unable to prove its case. How much his information may apply in your state will obviously vary depending on which state you are in. I live in Oregon, where our wonderfully backwards traffic laws make the vast majority of Stern's information inapplicable. Consider the following excerpts, which I contrast with my own speeding trial experience as examples of the disparity between what Stern says versus what can (although not necessarily will) actually happen in court:
"It is not enough for the officer to orally he say he completed the course [in radar training] but a Certificate of the satisfactory completion of the course must be offered and accepted into the record. Failure to do so is sufficient to move the court to dismiss the case."
This may be the law in Florida, but in states where it is not, most judges simply accept the officer's testimony that s/he has had the necessary training without further proof. Judges consider police to be officers of the court, and generally accept what they say as fact, unless you can make a good case that what they are saying is not true. This applied at my trial, where the judge didn't bat an eye at the officer's testimony regarding his own qualifications.
"The officer must testify and produce a certificate or document that the [radar] unit was tested within the previous six months of the citation issued and found to be functioning properly. [...] Since the certificate is one of the essential proofs necessary to find guilt the case is dismissible for failure of the state to make out a prima facie case."
Again, maybe in Florida, but this is hardly the case in all states. At my trial, I made a foundational objection when the officer cited his radar reading as evidence without entering a certificate of calibration into the record. The judge overruled my objection and allowed the reading into evidence without any proof whatsoever that the gun had been properly tested by a qualified professional.
"In addition to the above requirements the officer must produce a 'written log' demonstrating that specified internal and external accuracy tuning fork checks of the device were performed by the officer both before and after each citation was issued for speeding. [...] The external tuning fork accuracy check must be made with certified tuning forks (plus or minus one mile per hour) furnished by the manufacturer."
In many states and jurisdictions, officers don't even keep written logs of their radar activities, let alone are required to submit such logs in court. In my case, the officer simply noted on the back of the ticket that he had performed a calibration check, without ever writing what the process of the check was, or its outcome, other than it was "OK." At trial, his testimony alone was sufficient to convince the judge his tests were adequate, and the officer was never required to submit any written verification of his radar activity. Moreover, under questioning, the officer was unable to say which tuning fork he used, whether or not it was properly calibrated and/or certified, and whether or not it was provided by the manufacturer of the radar gun he used in issuing my citation. Again, the judge found all of this acceptable.
The above are just three examples of many from Stern's book that, if you choose to follow them and you do not live in Florida, may cause you to end up flat on your face in court. Perhaps the state where you live has more well thought-out statutes than does Oregon, and perhaps more of Stern's information will apply. The point is, though, unless you live in Florida, you cannot take what Stern says for granted. You will have to do your own checking of state laws, and if you do not find a law that closely resembles the Florida laws Stern cites, odds are his informaton will do you no good. Moreover, at 48 pages, only 36 of which contain relevant textual content, you can guess just how much in-depth information is in this book - not very much. His approach, even to the concepts that "are valid in all states," is cursory. If you are buying a lot of different books on fighting traffic tickets, just to cover your bases, then go ahead and buy this book. You might still find something useful. If you only want one, steer clear of this, unless, of course, you live in Florida.