Of all the cases we have had a chance to witness and/or transcribe, none has had the elements and the impact of this one. This one case points out the vagueness problems with California's helmet law (against the CHP enforcment policies) in a way that should have any rational Patriot screaming!
Most interesting is that Mr. Bristol is just a normal guy. A guy who just happens to ride a Harley-Davidson. But the man has no legal training. He has no exceptional educational skills. In other words, he's just an average biker; except for one thing. Mr. Bristol is a Freedom Fighter.
The Helmet Law Defense League was introduced to Mr. Bristol when he contacted Steve Bianco to help him fight a CHP helmet ticket. Bianco gave him direction and information. Bristol came equipped with the rest.
Go ahead and read the transcript. It's a most interesting case. Some of the comments are unbelievable. I will be posting your observations as they arrive by e-mail at the portion of the transcript you reference. I will insert a few of my own observations in the months to come, just for kicks.
The main thing I would hope that you, the reader, will take from this transcript is the understanding that if there were only one hundred like Bristol in the entire State of California, the helmet law would have been gone two years ago. AND if we can find the other ninety-nine now, we can still take it out in short order. Wanna play?
Cast of Characters:
C: = The court played by Judge Rudloff
B: = Patrick Bristol
D: = California Highway Patrol Sergeant Dyer
C: People versus Patrick Bristol. Its a minor offense division case. It's like BW01297. BW01297. Are you Mr. Bristol Sir?
B: Yes, your honor. Before we proceed I do want you to know that I do intend to challenge you for cause.
C: Well, you've already done that sir. You've already made one challenge and that's all you get in this ball game.
B: Okay. For the record, what you're saying that for cause there's only one challenge?
C: Well, you can in effect peremptorily challenge a person pursuant to 170.6. To do it ah 170.1 is a noticed motion sir and it's too late for that.
B: I'm sorry, I don't hear well. I'm not understand what you're saying that it's my understanding that if there's cause, not a peremptory challenge . . .
C: That's right. A 170.1 challenge is a notice motion and you have to file a notice. You have to notice the prosecutor. You have to do it within the time constraints of the local rules of court. The district attorney is then prepared and we go from there. You can't just come and ah file a 170.1 challenge. You've already challenged . . . my recollection is you challenged Judge . . . excuse me, Commissioner Brandenburg ah it look's like on September the twenty second, nineteen ninety five. Commissioner Brandenburg ah you challenged him and you only get one challenge sir.
B: For the record, are we on record by the way?
C: We are being recorded yes.
B: For the record I also challenged Commissioner Ornelias and that's why I'm here today in Muni court.
C: Alright, anything else you'd like to say before we begin sir?
B: Okay, for my understanding, you're not going to let me challenge on the cause?
C: That's correct. You've already filed the challenge. That's what the record reflects and ah also in addition sir the challenge, if you're going to file a challenge, that has to be filed in presiding department, not in the trial department, so ah you're challenge is untimely and it's inappropriate.
B: Also, as I told Judge Murphy, I'm going to file a motion and I'd like to do that at this time, to have a sixty day extension because a whole bunch of new information has come about that I just found out about in the last couple of days.
C: What information is that?
B: Pardon me?
C: What information is that? What's the basis for you request for an extension?
B: There's at least one other cop involved. Now it appears that ah Sgt. . . .
C: Police Officer? Do you mean Police Officer?
B: Yes sir.
C: Alright. You misspoke yourself.
B: It appears he has a friend on the San Diego Sheriff's Department and there appears to be some sort of play going on here ah see the point is that there's a Federal Law suit in Federal Court in San Jose where Sergeant Dyer has been put on constructive notice and ah what I need to do and want to do is to subpoena this sheriff in this case to examine him to cross-examine him for a possible affiliation with Sergeant Dyer. And I do have reason to believe that Sergeant Dyer perhaps solicited the help of this sheriff.
C: Alright. Sir, you've . . . perhaps you don't understand ah what the circumstances . . . you're charged with three infractions, three vehicle code infractions involving apparently a loud muffler and no horn on the vehicle and I forget what the other one is and ah no helmet and that's the extent of it. The citation was apparently issued by one officer. Ah ah Dryer . . .
B: Dyer sir.
C: Ah Dyer. This is obviously the sergeant here. Was there anyone there at that time, other than the ah sergeant?
B: No. The subsequent actions . . . like I said, these are things that have just happened in the last few hours.
C: Alright. There are certain discovery procedures provided by the Penal Code 1054. They're required to be ah all your discovery they're required to be ah filed be timely or if you're unable to get what you wish by mutual cooperation with the prosecuting agency, you have to have your motion on file thirty days prior to the day set for trial so it's also not timely. Also what you've told me does not appear to have any relevance to this alleged . . . ah these alleged offenses. They apparently occurred on one date. It was a citation, simply a citation issued by an ah officer. The question is whether or not there is proof to establish that you were in violation of the three sections. The fact that the sections may or may not be valid according to you is not the test. The fact that people don't care for the particular section is not the test. It's just simply whether or not there is sufficient proof to demonstrate that the language of the statute has been violated. That uh that's the extent of it. Alright anything else that you'd like to uh . . .
B: Okay. Just . . . again just to recap here, for my understanding, because I'm really kind of overwhelmed here and I want you to know that. I'm just a guy that rides a motorcycle. But what I heard is that uh you're not going to let me challenge for cause even though I honestly believe . . . I don't have . . . that you're bias against motorcyclists. That's not gonna happen. You're not going to allow me to make a motion for a sixty day extension although new information has come about. Is that correct?
C: Well now, bias agai . . . it may interest you to know that I used to be a motorcycle racer out in the desert. I'm not really bias against motorcy . . . I raced in, what is it, district thirty nine? I believe that's the local one out here. I used to do that quite a . . . I did that for years. So I don't really have any bias against you people.
B: I have no reason to believe that, it's just information I was given. You know, with all respect to your honor.
C: I just thought I'd like to let you know. Just as a matter of general information. Alright, please swear the officer. Excuse me, do you have anything else you'd like to bring to the attention of the court?
B: No sir, your honor.
C: Alright, please bring and swear the officer.
Clerk: Do you solemnly swear the testimony you (garbled) before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
D: I do.
Clerk: Please state you full name and spell each name.
D: Dennis L. Dyer, D-Y-E-R.
C: Incidentally, I never won any races, but I would participate. Alright, Officer, you are a member of the California Highway Patrol. I can see by your uniform, is that correct.
D: Yes sir.
C: Alright, you were on duty on or about the July the twenty fourth of the year last, it looks like about four fifty in the afternoon?
C: Alright, did you have occasion to see the uh defendant Mr. Bristol?
D: Yes I did.
C: Alright, is that Mr. Bristol to your right?
D: It most definitely is.
C: Alright, would you describe the circumstances please, surrounding your contact with Mr. uh Mr. Bristol.
D: I was proceeding westbound on uh State route seventy eight. I was east of Mar Vista at that time in the right hand lane of traffic when Mr. Bristol's motorcycle passed by my patrol car in the center lane. I noticed at that time that his motorcycle exhaust was quite loud. I had my window rolled up, as a matter of fact, I heard the exhaust before I saw it. As he passed me, I initiated a traffic stop at Mar Vista. Um at that time I advised him why I stopped him. He took off his helmet and placed it on the ground. I looked at the helmet and advised him that I did not think it was not an approved-type helmet. I examined the helmet and found that it did not have a Styrofoam cush liner, which is a requirement for D-O-T certification. I also did a mechanical check of his vehicle, which is something that I do routinely whenever I stop a vehicle for a mechanical violation. I found that his horn was not functioning and issued a citation at that time for those three violations.
C: Alright, anything else you'd like to bring to the court's attention with respect to the three violations in question?
D: After uh having stopped him, I checked his exhaust level again to make sure that it was as it appeared to be when he stopped on the shoulder. I also noticed that the exhaust did not appear to be a stock model, not of any that I'd seen on a Harley before, particularly of that model. Uh, when I brought this to his attention, he indicated to me that he had bought it at Harley's House of Harleys and that's the way the motorcycle came.
C: Alright Mr. Bristol, would you like to ask the sergeant any questions?
B: Yes you honor.
C: Alright, let me suggest that the questions should be directed to his testimony concerning the uh circumstances of his contact with you and uh his testimony regarding the uh noise of the muffler, the helmet situation and the no horn situation.
B: By the way your honor ah I've not been arraigned and I was just wondering by what jurisdiction we're proceeding now?
C: What do you mean you haven't been arraigned?
B: I was ah . . . Judge Ornelias entered a plea for me over my objection that I was there to get a verified complaint, which he denied, which I subsequently got . . .
C: There's already been a demur on that sir.
B: Yes . . .
C: The demur was denied I gather by uh Judge Ramirez.
B: He did say in that demur hearing that the plea was to be struck.
C: I gather you were arraigned on . . . Alright, let me interrupt this just a second. (To the clerk: Would you take this down (garbled)) Returning back now to three three . . . apparently you were arraigned by traffic . . . uh . . . whatever they refer to it as, the traffic division in San Marcos. There was an arraignment tape, you made a copy . . . you requested a copy of the tape. Then there was the business of your position that there was no verified complaint on file.
B: That's why we had the cause hearing, your honor. That uh that's what I was there for to get a verified complaint so I could demur to it. He denied that and ah entered a plea for me over my objection.
C: Well that's uh . . . that's uh certainly a well prescribed procedure in law. The court entering pleas of uh a plea of not guilty over uh the defendant's objection. That's well recognized. A plea has to be entered. And uh prior to the entry of a plea there is an arraignment process. There's no reason to believe that you were not appropriately arraigned in the fashion they arraign in San Marcos. I've never been in that court so I have no idea how it's accomplished uh . . . does it show on here, Madam Clerk. I wish (garbled) . . . In the meantime, do you have any questions you wish to ask (garbled) the sergeant while the court is looking.
B: Yes uh, Officer Dyer, concerning my exhaust, were you aware that it was signed off by Officer Dawson?
B: Okay. Do you have any articulable facts other than you own opinion that my exhaust was too loud and or illegal?
D: As far as what?
B: Wether or not my exhaust was loud or too legal? . . . or too loud.
D: Articulable facts?
B: Pardon me?
D: Articulable facts?
B: Do you have anything in writing. Anything that's proof that says that shows that my exhaust was too loud? Or was it just your opinion?
D: It was my opinion based on experience.
B: Okay, so the answer is no you do not?
D: No, I do not have anything other than my opinion and experience.
B: And so therefore then, there is nothing that you can show me, correct?
D: In the way of what?
B: No proof that you can show me that my exhaust was too loud, I mean show the court?
D: You mean at this time?
B: So, now this is just your opinion? You have no facts to back that up?
C: We've already established that, Mr. Bristol, about three times.
B: Okay. I'm sorry your honor, like I said, I'm not a lawyer, I'm just . . .
C: I know. I understand, but he said quite clearly that it was his opinion that your muffler was too loud.
B: Then could you tell me Officer Dyer exactly how many decibels was my motorcycle.
B: No you cannot. Was it over seventy decibels.
D: I couldn't say.
B: You can't say whether it was over seventy decibels. Can you tell me what the law is, what decibels it should be?
D: Not specifically.
B: If you don't know how many decibels it should be, and you can't tell me how many decibels . . . you can't tell the court how many decibels it was, how could you possibly write a ticket on it?
D: Because I've been riding motorcycles for thirty-three years, including Harley-Davidsons, and I know what a stock exhaust sounds like. And I also know when an exhaust is loud. I don't mean just slightly loud, I mean very loud. Bordering on being a straight exhaust system.
B: Okay so on the citation, as I recall, you wrote that up under two seven one five one uh, is that correct?
D: That is correct.
B: And that section was for modified exhaust?
D: That's correct.
B: And . . . okay . . . back up from that a little bit. Are you aware of the CHP policies and guidelines for the issuance of excessive noise violations?
D: Specific guidelines?
B: Pardon me?
D: Specific guidelines?
B: Okay. You don't know how many decibels my motorcycle was. You don't know how many decibels it ought to be. You don't know what the CHP, your own policy, guidelines are for writing one, and yet you wrote a ticket for it, is this correct?
C: Well, Mr. Bristol. Let me ask you. First of all, your question assumes certainly the existence of things that may not exist. The officer . . . you asked the officer whether or not he's aware of any specific CHP guidelines and he said no, I don't know that any exists.
B: Okay, I do your honor.
C: I don't know that any rules exist with respect to the criteria for loudness in terms of ex number of decibels. It would be almost uh impossible unless the officer's vehicles were equipped with some sort of a metering device that would in some fashion measure noise and that would be rather awkward and many times unsafe type of device instrument to operate, particularly is you're driving riding in the car with one person or if you happen to be riding a motorcycle. The officer riding a motorcycle. That uh . . .
B: Your honor, what I'm trying to say, it like as if he didn't know what the speed limit was, he doesn't know how fast I was going, but he says I was going too fast.
C: That's fine.
B: And the same thing applies here. There are specific guidelines under the Vehicle Code, the 1995 Vehicle Code, two seventy-two oh two which I'll read: For the purposes of section two seven two zero zero, these are your guidelines not mine, the following noise limits shall apply to any motorcycle other than a motor-driven cycle, manufactured after it gives several dates, mine being the one that falls between after 1994 and before 1986 is eighty-three decibels. Just for your information.
C: What section are you reading from sir? What section are you reading from?
B: I'm reading from Division twelve of the Vehicle Code, the California Vehicle Code.
C: What section? The number, numerical section you're reading from? (garbled)
B: Twenty seven . . . twenty seven hundred. As I stated, it's twenty seven two oh two.
C: You're reading from twenty seven two oh two?
C: Alright, I see what you're reading.
B: Pardon me?
C: I see what you're reading. You may continue.
B: What I'm trying to establish, your honor, is that there are . . .
C: This is the time to ask the officer questions.
B: I was, and you told me . . . evidently you did not want me to ask that or . . .
C: No. Ask the officer whatever questions you wish to ask him.
B: The answer is no, that you don't. Um . . . okay getting back to the muffler, did you at the time of the citation have a calibrated decibel meter with you, at the time of the stop?
D: No I did not.
B: Are you certified to operate test equipment?
B: Did you use . . . I think you answered this, but just to be sure, did you use any type of equipment anything no you did answer that. I was all just your opinion. That's right. And I believe you stated that your windows were up when I passed you on the freeway?
D: That's correct.
B: Did you decide my exhaust was too loud when I was behind you?
D: I first heard you at that time.
B: Okay let me ask . . . did you decide it was too loud at that time?
D: It appeared to be.
D: It appeared to be.
B: Is that a yes or a no?
D: That's my answer.
B: Because that's not an answer to my question. The answer to my question is either yes or no.
C: Excuse me, he answered the question counsel. He answered the question.
B: I don't know whether that's a yes or no.
C: Well, I'm sorry. He answered in the English language. His answer was, it appeared to be.
B: Can you tell me why at that time you slowed down to approximately thirty or thirty-five miles an hour on the freeway?
D: So that you could pass me and I could initiate a traffic stop. But I wasn't going down to thirty miles an hour.
B: Were you doing thirty-five?
D: I don't know what the speed was.
B: But it was slow enough that I had no choice but to go by you.
C: Ah Mr. Bristol, speed is not relevant here. We're talking about noise and ah the business of the helmet and the business of no horn. Those are the things you should be directing your inquiry toward.
B: Yes, your honor. I'm trying to understand and establish how this all came about. As we've already heard . . .
C: It's not really a big mystery. Apparently you two vehicles came together at some place on some highway. The officer heard your vehicle and apparently stopped you and issued the citations. It's not a big mystery as to what happened.
B: Maybe not to you, your honor, but in all respect it's a mystery to me. May I be allowed to question him on this?
C: You may. You may.
B: Okay. So again, you slowed down to a speed that I had to pass you?
C: Alright, you've already asked that question.
B: I got no answer.
C: I'm sustaining my own objection. It's been asked and answered. The answer . . . so uh the next question please.
B: And the reason you said . . . you stopped me . . . if I'm not . . . the reason for the initial stop was the exhaust noise?
D: That's correct.
B: Okay, then again, not the same question, just for my understanding, did you decide that my exhaust was too loud when I was in front of you?
C: He's already answered that question Mr. Bristol. The answer to the question was, it appeared so.
B: No. That answer was . . .
C: Next question please. Please. He's already answered the question. Let's move on.
B: That answered was, had he decided that when I was behind him. He said it appeared to be. I want to know if it was behind him, beside him, in front of him . . . may I ask the question your honor.
B: I may not?
C: Next question please.
B: And I went by you on your left hand side, is that correct?
D: That's correct.
B: You stated that you did not have any testing . . . I mean any qualifications to use testing equipment. Did you have any other training in the detection of loud exhaust?
D: Just my ears.
B: Did you have any training through the CHP for the detection of loud exhaust.
D: Not specifically. No.
B: Therefore, it couldn't have been the last ten years . . . okay . . . and you said that your ears were the only way that you determined that?
C: Mr. Bristol, we've already established that. I'm going to exercise my discretion under three fifty two of the Evidence Code and find that the uh probative value of this line of questioning is not unseated by the undue consumption of time, so please let's move on.
B: I sorry, your honor. I can't hear you.
C: I said, I am exercising my discretion . . . am I loud enough for you?
C: Alright. Under three fifty two of the Evidence Code, and I'm finding that the probative effect of this line of questioning is far out seated by the undue consumption of time therefore, let's move on to another area.
B: I'm not going to be allowed to ask any more questions about the exhaust?
C: I have spoken to you in the English language, Mr. Bristol. I don't know what else I can say.
B: And that's three fifty-two?
C: Yes sir. Three five two of the Evidence Code, and that's spelled with a capital "E".
B: Thank you your honor.
C: You're welcome.
B: Officer Dyer, can you tell me, was my helmet sold or offered for sale in the State of California?
D: No, I couldn't say if it was.
B: Can you tell me if my helmet was certified at the time of sale?
D: Certified by who?
B: Any agency. Can you tell me that?
D: It's kind of a broad question.
D: It's too broad for me to answer yes or no.
B: Do you have a determination of noncompliance on my helmet?
D: Compliance with what?
B: Noncompliance on my helmet. A determination of noncompliance of anything?
C: Counsel, that's not a very valid question. Noncompliance presupposes that there are some regulations that something has to be in compliance with. You have to express what it is in terms of noncompliance.
B: Do you have a determination of noncompliance with California Highway Patrol?
D: We don't have any compliance standards.
B: Okay. Is there or do you have a safety recall from the manufacturer of my helmet?
D: I wouldn't know.
B: Either you do or you don't have one. Yes of no?
D: I don't know.
B: Do you have any competent objective evidence from an independent lab on my helmet saying it wasn't in compliance?
D: In compliance with what?
B: With whatever the Highway Patrol is saying it's not in compliance with.
D: Do you mean the Department of Transportation standard for compliance?
B: Is there such a thing?
D: Yes there is.
B: Do you have that?
D: Do I anything . . . I'm sorry would you re-ask the question?
B: Do you have competent objective evidence from any independent lab that it's not in compliance with the D-O-T?
D: Trying to respond to that question is a little difficult. Could you kind of narrow it down a little bit? Do I have in my possession, is that what you're saying?
B: Did you at the time of the stop?
D: At the time I stopped you, did I have anything in my possession other than my own knowledge?
B: Right. Anything written. Anything that says that that is not in compliance?
D: I had my own knowledge.
B: So as far as competent objective evidence, no that is your answer?
D: Well, I consider the information objective.
B: Your honor, could I have some yes or no answers. May I have some direction to that?
C: Your questions are a little bit ambivalent, Mr. Bristol. First of all, you're asking the officer does he have any competent objective evidence ah opinions pursuant to eight hundred and eight oh one of the Evidence Code are competent evidence.
B: What I'm trying to say is does he have anything in writing that would say the helmet was illegal. Do you have anything . . .
C: Uh Mr. Bristol, whoever gave you these questions gave you some language that you're using against the officer that is really inappropriate. Like competent evidence opinions are competent evidence and that's what we're dealing with here is an opinion of this officer as opposed to something to something in writing. He's doesn't obviously apparently he didn't ah carry any type of bulletins manuals uh opinions from the Attorney General etc. etc. with him. He simply stopped you because he believed your motorcycle muffler was too loud. That's what he did and that's why he stopped you and that's what he said. Now then with regard to the helmet, he said that he didn't think that your helmet was appropriate in that there uh apparently it didn't have a ah Styrofoam uh or something . . . Styrofoam, I think that's the word he used . . . some sort of a uh I gather a liner of some sort to help absorb shock if there's any collision between the helmet and something. It seems to be a reasonable requirement if you're going to have a helmet. So again we're talking about the officer's, to use your word, competent evidence. It's uh and the question of competency and relevancy ultimately lie with the triar-of-fact, who happens to be me, as opposed to a jury, in this instance.
B: Okay, then directing my questions to Sergeant Dyer, let me try something else. Did you get the name of my passenger?
B: Can you tell me whether or not . . . let me say this so you can answer yes or no. Was my passenger under the age of sixteen years?
D: Actually I don't recall that you had a passenger.
B: Pardon me?
D: I don't recall that you did have a passenger.
B: Oh. Your honor, I'd like to direct your attention to the verified complaint that we proceeded under.
C: Please. No, the question . . . this is the time you're cross-examining the witness. Your verified complaint is not an issue here, Mr. Bristol. I'd suggest that you perhaps look at your file. We're going to have a brief recess so we can get this jury matter resolved. So we'll be in recess on this matter for about fifteen minutes. Would you bring the jury in please? You may remain or you may stand outside, whichever you prefer.
B: Your honor, I'm being charged for having a passenger under the age of fifteen and a half years without a helmet. Would you please direct you attention to the verified complaint.
C: Please, step outside. We're taking a recess. Now bring the jury in . . . Mr. Bailiff. We'll be back in about fifteen minutes, Mr. Bristol. (BREAK)
C: Alright, we're back in session again in the matter of People v. Bristol and that's the MOB matter of 1297. Just before we broke to accommodate the jury, Mr. Bristol you were commenting that you were charged with having a passenger under the age of fifteen without wearing a helmet? Did I understand you correctly?
B: Yes, uh your honor. Just before we proceed uh, who's representing the People here?
C: No one. The officer is representing the People. This is an infraction sir. You're charged with an infraction. But uh the citation as I read it is twenty seven eight oh three bee of the Vehicle Code, and that simply says that it's unlawful to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision a. There's nothing in there about fifteen years old.
B: Yes your honor. I'd like to direct your attention uh to you because you're asking the question, uh to the verified complaint that was uh filed in Vista, October 4th, 1995. Filed on that same day and as to count two. It is my understanding now, and you can tell me for the record if I'm correct, that a verified complaint is the document that we're proceeding under and takes precedent over a citation.
C: Alright, it's obviously a typographical error because it's charged . . . the citation itself is eight oh three bee and the charging requirement the charging under count two is eight oh three bee as well, and uh whoever typed that out uh typed in the under the age of . . . under the age of fifteen years six months. That's obviously a typographical error. Surplusage.
B: Maybe so. I read here on or about seven twenty-four nine five . . .
C: I'm reading that too, and it says that . . . it contains the language using fifteen years and six months. Alright now that obviously a typographical error because that language is not in the statute, its surplusage. You are charged with twenty-seven eight oh three small case bee in parentheses on the verified complaint. You're charged with twenty-seven eight oh three bee on the citation. So that's the charge . . . that's the offense that you were to alleged to have violated. It's got nothing to do with anyone under the age of any given year, much less fifteen years and six months. That's a typographical error. Somebody typed in, some clerk typed in some language is not in the statute and so it's just being stricken. It's what's referred to as surplusage. Did I make myself clear?
B: Now this is an amended complaint . . .
C: Mr. Bristol, it doesn't make any difference.
B: . . . filed by the district attorney, right?
C: Mr. Bristol, it's a typographical error. The language in there concerning fifteen years old has got nothing to do with the statute! Somebody made a mistake when they typed that language in. So it's simply being stricken as surplusage. It doesn't count. It's got . . . it has no meaning. The charge is simply that you were operating this motorcycle without a helmet in violation of twenty-seven eight oh three small case bee in parenthesis. It's no big mystery, Mr. Bristol. It's a mistake. You never made a mistake in your life?
B: It's a mystery to me your honor. If I had made a mistake I would be guilty, I would be out.
C: Well you don't type complaints, Mr. Bristol. So let's move on. Ask the officer some other questions.
B: Okay. I need to look that up, your honor. I would then on my demurrer hearing we were talking about this . . .
C: Your demurrer hearing is not at issue here Mr. Bristol! It's already been ruled on. It's been overruled by a Judge uh Ramirez. It's got nothing to do with the issues here.
B: Okay. Concerning the uh what you say to be a typographical error, using the vehicle code, using the section they have there, twenty-seven eight oh three bee stating that it is unlawful to operate a motorcycle motor-driven cycle or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is wearing a safety helmet, so the language is not exact, that's correct, but that's what they wrote and that's what is was ruled in the demur hearing that that stands.
C: Mr. Bristol, forget about the demur hearing. Just remove it from your vocabulary. It is for purposes of this trial it's over and done with. It is not an issue! Judge Ramirez has already ruled on your demur and we're here now to try the merits of your case.
B: That's exactly why I was in demur . . . saying what you're saying now, he said no, you go to court under this. And your saying now that he was wrong?
C: Mr. Bristol, please! Just ask questions of the officer.
B: Okay, may I . . . now I need to know . . . we're not using the papers that were filed in court. We're using the citation?
C: Mr. Bristol, please ask questions. You're your own lawyer for purposes of this . . . you're presumed to have all the procedural knowledge of a lawyer, so just continue. Next question please.
B: Once again I need to ask you honor, with all due respect . . .
C: You are your own lawyer, Mr. Bristol! So just ask questions. You do not ask directions from the court. The court does not practice lawyer, as a matter of fact, I'm not even a lawyer, Mr. Bristol. Would that shock you? I'm not a lawyer.
B: No your honor. That doesn't shock me at all.
C: And you are a lawyer, so go ahead and ask questions of the officer.
B: But you're telling me I can't ask questions pertaining to that, that that's the reason I was sent here. That's what I'm not understanding. I need to know what to ask questions about.
C: I'm sorry if you don't understand English, Mr. Bristol. That's not my problem. You're your own lawyer, you're presumed to understand all the mechanical and procedural requirements so you may now proceed as your own lawyer.
B: Okay. Assuming this court is using the citation, I'm directing these questions to you Sergeant Dyer, was I wearing a helmet?
D: You had on a device that appeared to be a helmet.
B: Yes? Was that a yes?
D: You had a helmet of a type, yes.
B: Yes. Did you examine my helmet or did you just look at it? Did you pick it up and look at it?
D: I looked at it.
B: Did you hold it and look at it?
D: I took a look at your helmet, yeah.
B: Officer Dyer, the helmet was sitting on the mirror on the handle bars. Did you at any time pick it up.
D: No. I don't recall that I actually picked it up.
D: I don't recall that I did.
B: Was the helmet black?
D: I believe it was.
B: Did it have a chin strap?
B: Was the connecting device on it a velcro type?
D: I believe it was a snap type, but I can't say for sure.
B: Was there a face shield of any type on the helmet?
D: I don't recall there being one.
B: And was I wearing eye protection?
D: You had on prescription glasses.
B: Was there any type of visor on the helmet?
D: I don't know that there was.
B: Any distinctive or decorative markings on the helmet?
D: I couldn't say.
B: Did my helmet have a lining?
D: What kind of lining sir?
B: Any type of lining in it?
D: It had some soft foam padding in there.
B: Did you determine this by standing where you were and looking at it over on the motorcycle?
D: I looked at your helmet.
B: But I'm asking, did you determine that by standing in one place and looking at it in a distance place.
B: You didn't pick it up . . .
C: Alright, that's already been established that the officer did not physically handle your helmet.
B: Yes your honor. I'm trying to determine . . .
C: It's already been established that he did not touch your helmet. He looked at it, that's all. He didn't touch it, feel it, bounce it do anything to it. He just looked at it and I'm assuming that in his opinion he felt it was inappropriate because there has been no testimony there's been any certificate of certification that is required to be attached to helmets. And the very . . . what's the term . . . conspicuously uh conspicuous place, that's simply a requirement. There's been no testimony about that so, but he never touched your helmet so let's move on then.
B: You never touched my helmet. You looked at it from a distance. How did you determine that the helmet . . . what the lining consisted of?
D: As far as . . .(end of tape "a") (Begin side "b")
D: . . . a Styrofoam liner inside.
B: Was there a black felt or cloth lining inside the helmet?
D: It was a partial cloth liner, yes.
B: How did you determine that it did not have the proper lining underneath the cloth lining?
D: It didn't cover the entire inside of the helmet and I could see the liner, the helmet shell itself which indicated to me that there was no Styrofoam inside.
B: So you could see the shell, you could see the cloth, you could not see what was inside it. Uh . . .
D: I did not say that.
B: Well let me ask you, did you see what was between the cloth and the helmet . . . uh the shell?
D: Uh, I really couldn't state categorically at this time yes or no. Um, I could just see that there was not a shell liner, there was not a Styrofoam liner.
B: If you could not see what was between the cloth and the helmet, how did you determine that it was foam rubber, glass, or not a Styrofoam?
D: I could see that it didn't have a shell.
B: Pardon me?
D: I could see that it did not have a Styrofoam shell that encompassed the entire inside of the helmet.
B: You just testified that you couldn't see between the cloth and the liner. You can't see a Styrofoam shell. Did my helmet have any kind of lining?
D: It didn't have any liner at all, per se. It did have some soft foam padding that was underneath the cloth that was on the inside.
B: How did you determine that it had soft foam padding under the cloth?
D: By looking at it.
B: By looking at it. Did not have a lining. Can you describe what a lining is seeing as you wrote me for not having one?
C: Uh, Mr. Bristol. Again I'm going to exercise my discretion under three fifty-two of the Evidence Code. The probative of this line of questioning is far outweighed by the undue consumption of time. So please move on. It's already been established that with respect to the officer's observations and his opinion with regard to your helmet . . . what it consisted of. He did not run any chemical or scientific tests on your helmet. That's very apparent. So let's move on to the next questions please.
B: Okay. You're telling me not to ask these questions yet I'm trying to establish that there's a cover, there's a cloth, there's a . . .
C: Mr. Bristol, you've already established the point, so let's move on to another questions please.
B: So there had to be a lining inside of this helmet?
C: Please don't argue with me, Mr. Bristol.
B: Was the lining like any . . . was it a D-O-T approved lining?
B: Does the D-O-T approve linings?
D: The D-O-T approves testing on a helmet.
B: So the D-O-T does not approve linings?
D: I couldn't say if they approve a specific lining, except that all D-O-T approved helmets have a Styrofoam liner.
B: Are there any D-O-T approved helmets?
D: Of course there are.
B: That's a yes. Could name a style, type or manufacturer of any D-O-T helmet?
D: Shoie, (garbled), Bell, AGV, Biaffi and a number of others on the market. I believe Monarc is also.
B: Does the California Highway . . . does the CHP approve any helmets?
D: No we don't.
B: You're are stating for the record that these manufacturers do . . . the Shoie, the Bell, etc., do approve D-O-T . . . they are D-O-T approved helmets.
C: Excuse me. You're reading too much into the officer's question Mr. Bristol. The question of approval is relates to the issue of administrative law which is not a matter that's realistically before this court here. The officer is of the opinion that your helmet did not meet whatever standards are applicable. He's given you the names of helmets that he believes do and he's given you reasons why he felt that your helmet did not meet the appropriate standards. You may present evidence to the contrary, but you've elicited all that information from the officer so let's move on.
B: Appropriate standards? Uh, I know of no appropriate standards.
C: Please don't argue with me Mr. Bristol. Please. Let's move on.
B: I'm not.
C: Ask another question please.
B: You keep interrupting me and telling me that I can't questions. I don't understand why I can't ask . . .
C: Because, Mr. . . . if you'd care to read three fifty-two of the evidence code it provides discretion to the court to stop extraneous and superfluous and redundant cross-examination, so that's what I'm doing, so let's move on to an other area please.
B: Was my helmet made of fiberglass?
D: I don't know what it was made of.
B: Was the material of the helmet itself, the shell, like the material used in a D-O-T approved helmet.
D: I couldn't say. I didn't check it. It appeared to be . . . it might have been fiberglass. It actually appeared to be more like ABS.
B: Do you know what type of material is used in a D-O-T approved helmet.
C: Mr. Bristol. That's beyond the scope of this witnesses. He's not been qualified as an expert in the make-up and manufacturer of the chemicals required for whatever plastic materials are used in the general manufacturer. It would be an impossible for him to ask. He is just simply a Highway Patrol officer. He is not a chemist. Or not a physicist. Or any person akin to that discipline, so let's please move on.
B: Okay, well, your honor. You're saying he's not qualified to answer this question . . .
C: No, I did not say that Mr. Bristol.
B: You said he had no way of knowing or . . .
C: He is not an expert in the manufacture or make-up of plastics. That's what I'm suggesting to you. That's my ruling, Mr.
B: He stated to me that he's an expert in the manufacture of helmets. He said that he can tell by looking at something at a distance what's between the . . .
C: Please don't argue with me, Mr. Bristol.
B: I don't intend to argue with you your honor. I'm just trying to have a day in court to ask some questions. You keep stopping me every time I try.
C: There are procedural rules. Simply because you are representing yourself doesn't give you carte-blanche authority to violate the procedural rules that govern the operation of any court of law, even this humble little trailer, so please keep that in mind Mr. Bristol. I'm holding you to the standards of a lawyer, and I expect you to ask questions like a lawyer and to respond to the court like a lawyer.
B: Yes your honor. Do you know who the manufacturer of my helmet was?
D: No, I don't.
B: Was my helmet D-O-T approved.
D: I believe I stated earlier that it was not.
B: It was not. You determined that it was not D-O-T approved by merely looking at it?
B: Did you determine that it was not D-O-T approved before you stopped me at all?
B: Did you determine that my helmet was not D-O-T approved by the tag?
C: I'm sorry, by the . . . what was the question? By the what?
B: By the tag inside the helmet, the manufacturer tag.
B: Did you determine that it wasn't D-O-T approved by the chin strap or the fastening device?
B: Did you determine that my helmet was not D-O-T approved by the materials it was constricted of?
B: Did you determine that is was not D-O-T approved by the sticker on it?
D: (No response)
B: Did you determine that my helmet was not D-O-T approved by the style of the helmet?
B: Can you tell me where I can get in writing anything that says what a D-O-T approved helmet is?
C: I'm going to sustain my own objection. It's beyond the scope of the direct examination and it's not relevant. Next question please.
B: Your honor, there are no D-O-T approved helmets.
C: Mr. Bristol, next question please! You don't understand your position. You are a lawyer. You are not to editorialize. You will have the opportunity to argue at a later date. You will have the opportunity to present whatever evidence you feel appropriate. Any evidence. If you have some experts that say that your helmet is approved or is substantially approved, that certainly is your prerogative. But at this point in time, let's move on.
B: Was there a D-O-T sticker on my helmet?
D: I don't recall seeing it.
B: You didn't . . . I'm going to ask a couple questions so I can ask the next questions. I gonna make a couple of statements. From what I understand, you didn't physically hold the helmet to examine it. You saw it. You looked at the top. You could see that there was a cloth lining and therefore determined from that that there was no Styrofoam. Is that a legal citation to write it that way, under that examination?
C: I'm sustaining my own objection. It calls for an answer that this witness is not authorized under law to give. His job is to determine probable cause. The triar-of-fact determines whether or not there is a violation.
B: So he cannot tell me whether . . .
C: I thought I made myself clear! His job is to determine probable cause. No more. No less. In connection with his issuing a citation.
B: And it's my understanding from the court that you're not going to allow me to ask any more questions about the exhaust system, is that correct?
C: If you have some different areas that you wish to go into, you certainly may.
B: You told me that concerning the exhaust pipes, you told me that you determined that just by listening. Have you had any training to be able to any real training like that the Highway Patrol might provide, training to determine sound decibels by your ears?
C: Mr. Bristol, you've asked that question earlier on. Let's move on. It's been asked and answered. The answer is no. Move on please.
B: I didn't realize I'd asked that question, so . . .
C: You did sir. Move on. Next question.
B: If I'm correct I did ask him if he could determine with his ears . . .
C: Please Mr. . . . Please just ask another question Mr. Bristol.
B: (Talking to himself:) I'm not allowed to ask that.
C: Mr. Bristol, you're comments are becoming quite abusive, so please just ask questions.
B: Is the legal sound decibel for motorcycles the same for all motorcycles?
C: Excuse me Mr. Bristol. You've question is ambiguous.
B: Let me try and clear this up.
C: If you're referring to the loud mufflers the answer is yes. Obviously the statute provides different decibel requirements for given years of manufacturer, but your question . . . the answer to your question is yes, if the . . . regardless of when the vehicle was manufactured if the noise level is the extreme, it is a violation.
B: You're answering for him.
C: No, I'm giving you the answer and because he can't answer the question. It's beyond the scope of his expertise or lay opinion as simply a Highway Patrol Officer. You're question is vague and ambiguous, that is the legal ruling.
B: I'll try and clear that up a little. Uh, do you know the model year of my motorcycle.
D: I believe it's an eighty-five.
B: Nineteen eighty-five. Yes. To pin that down, is the sound decibel level the same for a nineteen eight-five the same as it is for a nineteen eighty-nine?
D: Are you talking about the legal requirements?
B: Yes, as in the Vehicle Code, how load it can be.
D: I couldn't quote it to you.
B: Do you know if it's the same or not? That's the question.
D: It may or may not be.
B: You do not know. Do know the proper procedure for testing a motorcycle noise level.
C: Alright, I'm sustaining my own objection. It's beyond the witnesses expertise. He has no knowledge of the specific decibel requirements, so let's move on.
B: I'm trying to find out how he determined it was too loud.
C: Because he said it was loud. If I sit here and yell at you, and you'd certainly know it would be loud. And that's a judgment call on your part. I'm talking softly now. Alright. If I'd sit here and yell at you, you'd surely know it would be loud, and you could distinguish between how I'm speaking now and if I started to yell at you, could you not?
B: Yeah, except that I wouldn't . . . I wouldn't know that it was too loud. Whether it was above what's legal.
C: Well, I don't choose to yell at you at this point in time. But if I choose to yell at you, you certainly know it would be loud. And it would certainly be inappropriate. And if we analogize between inappropriate loudness and legal loudness, you would know it and you could testify that I was yelling and screaming at you in a loud voice. And there's no question in you mind that it would be too loud for an appropriate volume in this courtroom. And that's the same analogy. The officer hasn't any idea as to whether it takes one decibel or ten thousand decibels. He doesn't know. All he's telling this court is that in his humble opinion, your muffler was too loud. Now you may produce evidence to the contrary if you like, if you have any evidence. If you have any experts. If you've had some tests run on your motorcycle to confirm the number of the appropriate . . . ah the sound level, why you can certainly that.
C: Officer Dyer, do you remember talking to me about the Federal Injunction against writing tickets for motorcycle helmets?
D: I did not discuss it with you.
C: Was the subject brought up?
D: Yes it was.
B: Do you remember stating that you were aware of the injunction?
C: Mr. Bristol, assuming there is such as matter, it is not an issue before this court. The officer wrote you citation. If he did it in violation of some Federal Order, so be it. That's a matter for another venue, another court. It's got nothing to do with this matter here. The statute, the State statute is very clear. And if this officer violated some Federal Restraining Order, he is subject to some disciplinary proceedings for that. But I don't know that he has. There is no evidence before me that he has. There's no evidence before me that there is such a ah an order.
B: Your honor. I can't ask any more questions. Everything I try, I'm stopped. So, I have no more questions because uh . . .
C: You haven't addressed the issue of the third offense yet, Mr. Bristol. Do you wish to change your mind?
B: Pardon me your honor?
C: You have not addressed the third allegation, do you wish to change your mind and ask the officer some questions regarding the third allegation?
B: Regarding the third allegation, the horn your honor. It was a fix-it ticket and has been written off. As was the exhaust.
C: Do you have some evidence of that there? Hand it to the bailiff please. Hand it to the bailiff please. Alright, I would have appreciated it if you'd have brought this to the court's attention about an hour and a half ago. We wouldn't have had to waste time. Apparently you're interested in wasting the court's time.
B: No you honor.
C: That's the only reason why you must have not brought this to my attention, because otherwise the two sections are not relevant. The horn and the muffler business have already been taken care of.
B: Your honor . . .
C: That's a contemptuous act on your part.
B: Your honor, please. In all due respect, as I stated before, I was trying to determine why he stopped me.
C: You have wasted two hours of my time. You've wasted two hours of our time handling something that's already been adjudicated. There's just really no excuse for that Mr. Bristol.
B: I can't do that to determine why I was stopped. I said that in the beginning, that's what I was trying to determine, why I was stopped. And I apologize to the court . . .
C: Getting back to the business of the helmet, are you finished with this officer?
B: Yes your honor.
C: Alright. Thank you Officer. You're excused. You're subject to recall, just . . . I guess you could stay there. You might as well sit there. Do you wish to testify, Mr. Bristol. You need not. If you subject yourself to testimony, I will be able to ask you questions concerning your testimony. Uh you have obviously a Fifth Amendment privilege, you need not testify. It's up to the evidence that's been presented with respect to only the second count because the other two have already been adjudicated.
B: Yes your honor, I do.
C: Please raise you right hand and be sworn.
Clerk: Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are going to give in the matter now before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God.
B: Yes I do.
Clerk: Please state your full name.
B: Patrick G. Bristol
C: Alright, you may be seated Mr. Bristol. Alright, you may make uh testify in a narrative fashion concerning count two, the business of your helmet.
B: Only pertaining to the helmet.
C: Only pertaining to the helmet. The other two are not an issue, and its now . . . we started a little after nine and it's almost eleven o'clock and we had about fifteen or twenty minutes out for the jury and in the interim has been addressed to the two issues really a lot of the testimony has been addressed to the two issues that have already been resolved which is uh inappropriate.
B: I'll testify about the helmet. I bought the helmet in California. It is a certified helmet. It has the department of transportation sticker. It has a lining.
C: Do you have the helmet here Mr. Bristol? Do you have the helmet with you?
B: No I do not your honor. I didn't know I needed it. I could produce it. The whole helmet is in tact with the shell with the lining with the cloth underneath. There's no ribs no nothing. It's one, all hooked together. I bought this helmet when I was told to buy a helmet by the law. I was told to buy one. They didn't tell me what kind of helmet I could buy. I bought that helmet. I had no problems with this helmet. And suddenly I'm stopped and told that it doesn't have . . . without even being examined other than somebody looking at it from a few feet away can tell what's in between the cloth and the plastic that you can't even see saying it's not what it's supposed to be. I have no knowledge of exactly what it's to be made of. All I know is that when I went and bought the helmet, I said I need a helmet. They said, there's your choices. Take the one you liked the best. I liked that one because it was smaller, less wind resistance. And uh I have no . . . I've never been told in writing or verbally that you can't wear that helmet. As the officer stated, he didn't hold it, he didn't touch it. There is no basis to write the ticket.
C: You're testifying now. That's what you are supposed to be doing, not arguing Mr. Bristol. You are a lawyer. Please remember that. Comport yourself accordingly.
B: Okay. Uh. Again, that's my testimony is that I was stopped. Officer Dyer looked at my helmet again not touching it. Decided by looking at it that it was a ticket. There was no . . . and therefore wrote me a ticket. I testify that's it's a legal helmet. And that's the only testimony I have.
C: Alright. But you don't have the helmet here for the court to examine, is that correct?
B: That's correct. I produce it within ten or fifteen minutes.
C: It's not out in your car or anything like that? It's not in the vehicle that you have?
B: No your honor.
C: Anything else you'd like to say now? Say way of argument?
B: No argument. I would just again like to say to your honor that I did not intend to waste the time . . .
C: Please, that's already over and gone with. Uh, direct your argument to the business of the helmet sir.
B: I have nothing else your honor.
C: Alright, the uh helmet is . . . the requirement under twenty-seven eight oh three boiled down is that you're required to wear a helmet that meets certain criteria that have been established by law. The criteria, the only criteria that is readily available . . . uh readily apparent is contained in twenty-seven eight oh two "a" of the Vehicle Code and that speaks of flowing bureaucratic terminology about certain standards that no one realistically has any idea of . . . except someone that may work specifically with that motor vehicle safety standard number two eighteen. I have no idea what that means. Forty nine C-F-R or nine seven point one point eight. There's no evidence before me as to what those particular requirements might be. The statute also goes on to say that helmets may include, the term may is used meaning it's not mandatory but discretionary, compliance may include compliance with Federal Standards by incorporation of its standards by reference. Each helmet sold or offered for sale etc. etc. shall be conspicuously labeled in accordance with the Federal Standard which shall constitute the manufacturer's certification that the helmet conforms and then it goes on to . . . the next section simply goes on to require that you rider . . . wear one while you're driving uh riding your motorcycle. It's the testimony of the officer, he's I see a sergeant. Obviously he's been on the Highway Patrol for some period of time. I believe he said something about thirty years experience. My impression was that part of it was riding a motorcycle. You were a motor officer at one time?
D: I was a motor officer and I rode my own motorcycle for thirty-three years, your honor.
C: Alright. I think that the question of wether or not the sufficient standards is realistically a question of fact, and I find that the requisite amount of proof has been established by the officer's substantial expertise in riding and enforcement on his own personal motorcycle. Therefore the court's going to find you guilty.
Some piece of work, ain't it? Bristol was sentenced to the maximum fine, in fact over twice the maximum fine! The matter's under appeal right now and we can hardly wait to bring you the results.
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