Judges Above the Law
I was driving home from work on 5/5/07 at approximately 9:30pm. I had been driving down Baxter and there was this car, a Jaguar, in front of me. The Jag was going slower than the speed limit and I was behind him. We got to the intersection of Baxter and Clarkson in the right hand turning lane. The car behind me honked his horn twice because there were several opportunities for the Jag to make the right turn and he did not go. He was sitting pretty far back from the entrance of Clarkson. I honked twice also. When he did make the turn, I pulled out and went into the left lane as he stayed in the right lane. I started to pass him and he began moving into my lane. He continued to speed up while moving into my lane, seemingly on purpose trying to push me into the upcoming concrete divider. I wondered if he was trying to hit me, figured he was just drunk, and sped up to avoid a collision. Once I thought I was safely in front of him, I let off of the gas to avoid being over the posted speed limit. As I slowed down I felt a small bump. It got my attention and I realized he had not only continued to get behind me, but was right at my back bumper. After the initial bump, he hit me again harder. I still wonder if he was trying to hit my car or just wanted to irate me so bad he misjudged his skill. It had to be obvious to him I was just trying to get away from his car. After the crash, I got out of my car walked towards the other car to see if they were ok. The driver of the other car had gotten out of his car and came towards me. He immediately yelled that he was going to F me up, Buddy and whipped out a gold badge. He then shoved me and I told him he should get back in his vehicle. His face was near mine and I could smell alcohol on his breath and told him so. He said he was not driving and that his wife was. I started walking back to my car and the driver continued to yell at me. The 911 operator had answered and I noticed a female had moved into the drivers seat so I told the 911 operator the driver and his wife had switched seats. The operator asked if anyone was hurt so I walked back to the car to ask the woman and her response was to get the F away from her. The driver was also yelling at me to get the F away from his car. I told the 911 dispatcher, who should have heard and recorded most the conversation, that I had already been pushed and was getting back in my car for my safety, that the man seemed drunk and I felt unsafe. The police came and the talked to them and then to me. I had called my mom to tell her about the situation and ask her to come get me. My car was not drivable. I was extremely distraught, but glad to see the police until the officer told me that my story was different than Mr. Judge's (yep a Supreme court judge and his lovely Civil court judge wife) and that he did not believe me. I was told that Mr. Judge claimed I had slammed on my brakes on purpose causing the accident after following him and flipping my lights and honking at him. He also claimed I drove into oncoming traffic to pass him. I told the officer that the man smelled of alcohol and had pushed me. Mr. Judge, who was very angry, said I was lucky that all he did was push me and started towards me. Mr. Judge had told me previously (and this is clear on the 911 tape) “too bad someone bigger (then me) doesn’t take care of you”, and “when the police came, we’ll see who’s wrong”. This guy stands over 6 feet and I am about 5’6” and he is at least double my weight. The officer had to restrain him and said we are not going to do this right here, right now as he was holding Mr. Judge back with his hand on his chest. I asked to file an assault charge on Mr. Judge and the officer said he could not since he did not see him push me. Guess Mr. Judge admitting it in front of the cop was not good enough, nor must have been the fact that the officer had to stop Mr. Judge from going after me. There were about 5 police cars there and I thought that it must be on one of the police car cameras, so I dropped it. The Police Chief told me later that there weren’t any working cameras in any of the cars that showed up. I was also very curious why they did not do a sobriety check on Mr. Judge or Mrs. Judge. I thought it would have been prudent for the officer to do a sobriety check based on my statement and the fact that it was Cinco D' Mio. When my mom showed up, the officer hand cuffed me and said that I was going to jail for road rage. I’d been standing there next to my car for a while and no one seemed threatened by me or worried I was some out of control angry person, so I was stunned to be arrested. When my mom questioned the officer, she was told to step back and one officer used his flashlight to push her back. She had not moved, only leaned forward to hear the officer’s response to her question. The officer cuffing me said that the man and woman were both higher ranking elected officials and told me and my mom what that mean to him was that they were held to a higher standard. He also said by law they could not lie and their word was more meaningful to him than mine. They let Mr. and Mrs. Judge leave and refused to give me any information about them other than they were high-ranking officials. I wasn’t allowed to have their insurance till I was able to give them mine and did not find out who they were till the insurance info was brought in person to the police station. I was taken to the Police Station that night and released on a $150 bond after receiving 4 tickets. Honking unnecessarily, not having my insurance info with me (my bad), careless and imprudent aggressive driving, and trying to pass in a turning lane. None of this makes sense to me. I did honk 2 times at the intersection after another car (behind me) honked and my insurance info was in my jacket not with me. I do not feel I was driving aggressively or careless, but I do believe Mr. Judge was. There was no way that I could have passed him in using an oncoming turning lane since there was a concrete divider before and after the turning lane, which leaves no room to make a pass. The divider was the reason I sped up. I only had two options to escape his car, slow down or sped up. I chose to speed up because I was more in front of him than behind him when I noticed he was trying to move into my lane. I also know he was the driver because I saw him exit the vehicle from the drivers side and saw his wife move into the drivers seat. My car has been customized but there have been no speed enhancements since I show it, not race it. The week before the accident, I had just finished putting a body kit (front and back bumper and custom side skirts) on the car. I had also just hooked up two TVs, a sub woofer, an amplifier, and a capacitor in my trunk just 3 days before the accident. It makes no sense that I would use all my money to customize my car and then purposely cause it to be in an accident. The only thing I could think about why Mr. Judge was so angry is that my front head lights had not been readjusted after the new front bumper was put on and they could have been irritating him when I was behind him. I’m thinking his irritation turned into rage and he decided he should get behind me and treat me to his lights. It’s been 10 months and the court date has been postponed 6 times while the prosecutor was waiting for the insurance companies to battle it out. My insurance company refused to pay for damages to the Judge’s car because they felt it was 100% the Judge’s fault. I gave my insurance company a copy of the 911 tape that clearly shows I was scared and respectful while Mr. Judge was confrontational and verbally threatening me. My insurance company and the Judge’s insurance company went to arbitration and ended up using the police report to determine fault. I was found at fault. This was not a surprise since the police report only consisted of what Mr. and Mrs. Judge said. Guess my word wasn’t even worth writing down. Now we have a court date at the end of next month, 4 days before it becomes 1 year old. Can ya guess what will happen now? Moral of the story is if you’re in an accident with a Judge (especially if one that’s married to a Judge that presides over the area you got into the accident) you may as well bend over. I keep wondering why they did this? It was a minor accident; no injuries and clearly they hit my car. The only answer I come up with is, because they can.