My Day In Court

Back in November, I got a fairly nasty surprise. The financial guy in our office called me and told me something you never want to hear: “We received a notice of garnishment of your wages.” After a brief moment of panic, I calmed down enough to start digging into things.
It turned out that the fines were due to an unpaid ticket. Apparently I was issued a citation last August for not paying RTD fare while downtown by the UC Denver campus. Needless to say, this was news to me. In fact, the first I heard about it was the notice of garnishment. There had apparently been efforts to contact me about the ticket, but the city had an old address on file for me. So the late fees piled up, and suddenly a $75 ticket had ballooned up to $210.

“But wait,” I hear you ask, “how could the garnishment notice be the first you heard of this ticket? Wouldn’t you have remembered getting cited?” Well, friendly readier voice that lives inside my head, that’s an excellent question! In fact, the answer is what makes this whole debacle both interesting and annoying.

I was never there to receive a ticket.

I don’t know how it happened, but I was nowhere near downtown anywhere near the date and time on the ticket. In fact, I was shopping at Costco for new work clothes. So I began to gather my evidence: a receipt, with a time stamp and store number, a map showing the location of the store, and an IM chat log between my girlfriend and I (you’d think I would have mentioned something as unusual as interacting with police).

So while I was annoyed, I was assured in my ability to prove my innocence. I made multiple copies of my documentation. I filed a motion to roll back the default judgment and take my case to a hearing. I tidied myself up and squeezed into my one good suit. I was prepared. I would make my case, and it would be awesome.

And then the ticketing officer didn’t show up to the hearing.

Believe me, I certainly made sure to show up. But because the other party didn’t, the case got dismissed and I got to go back to work. All that preparing proof, all that organizing my spiel in my head, and all it took to get the thing dismissed was showing up. Kinda anticlimactic, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that the thing was dismissed. It’s just that I’d like a slightly better end to the story. And for what it’s worth, I thought my proof was pretty good.