In April, for those of you who have been keeping track, I received a ticket for entering a pedestrian crossing while people were in it. I had just crossed over the bridge from Port Jervis, NY, to Matamaros, PA, having dropped Michael at the Port Jervis train station. I hadn’t gone very far when I was pulled over for driving through a crosswalk that had people entering it. The trooper was quite helpful telling me to fight the ticket, agreeing that a truck had blocked the crossing, and also agreeing that I had been driving very slowly having just exited the bridge over the Delaware. This morning was my hearing to argue the summons — after all, it carried 3 points on my license, would have caused my insurance to increase, and had a $155.00 fine (which I paid as “collateral” in case I didn’t show up for the hearing). The Magisterial District Court is not easy to find since there is no sign on the outside. If you didn’t know that it was a white house with green shutters behind the old jail, you’d never find it. This is a picture of the old jail since I didn’t take one of the courthouse — there is a new courthouse for bigger things I guess. I parked outside the jail, called, was told where to go (after the receptionist laughed a lot) and walked through the parking lot, not very far. I gather that I’m not the first person to wonder where the court was.
Upon entering the house, there were many signs stating, in all caps, “Absoultely No Cell Phones in This Court. Magisterial District Judge Deborah P. Fischer.” I fixated immediately on the misspelling since there were no fewer than 4 of these signs. That might not sound like many, but it was a VERY small room. There were 10 people there and not enough chairs. It was totally quiet until one woman started asking people why they were there. Most of the people sitting there (once you signed in like at the dentist’s office) were from New York and began talking about the Pennsylvania conspiracy to cite out-of-staters for driving into pedestrian crossings. It turns out that everyone there had been ticketed for the same thing on the same day. To put this in context, Matamaros is just over the Delaware from New York into Pennsylvania (it has no fewer than seven discount cigarette shops not to mention fireworks stores which are illegal in New York). I live about 20 miles just east of there, 12 miles east of Milford.
The conspiracy theory discussion continued and all I wanted to do was have my name called, go into the little courtroom, and get out. People came and went from the courtroom and finally the officer who ticketed me opened the door and called my name. Judge Fischer was very pleasant, asked me how I was doing today, made a bit of small talk, and then the officer read out the story of my misdeed, recommended it be downgraded to a parking ticket, and told the judge that I had been very nice and cooperative when pulled over. She then said, “OK, no points on your license, no increase in insurance, fee of $50, and you will be refunded the rest of the money you already paid. You’re from Pennsylvania, right?” That was it. We then discussed the risk of crossing the road in Matamaros and Milford, the judge saying she had almost been run down by a school bus recently and the trooper saying he and his wife were nearly run down by the Milford Chief of Police who didn’t stop. I didn’t need to say a word.
Just before I walked out of the room I wanted to mention the misspelling. How did the judge not notice it? Didn’t anyone care? Then I decided to walk out as quickly as I could and be happy that it all turned out in my favor.