Sworn te(ch)stemony?
November 27, 2012 1:05 PM   Subscribe

How do I swear testimony in an online parking ticket appeal (NYC)?

I recently got a ticket for double-parking in NYC (Brooklyn). I was not double-parked (very clearly according to the NYC definition on their website) and immediately took photographs of the parking situation upon noticing the ticket. However when I filed a dispute of the ticket online, and included the photographs, I was still found guilty, because I had no proof that the photographs were actually of how I was parked when I received the ticket. The judge included something in the explanation about having no sworn testimony.

I definitely understand this point. Is there an appropriate way to swear testimony or prove the validity of the photographs in the appeal of these decisions? I was thinking of including a signed affidavit as to the legitimacy of the photographs, but have no idea how to do this.

One last complicating factor: I actually received two tickets, two days apart, as this was over a holiday, and I didn't check my car after the first one. So I actually found two tickets, and disputed them in the exact same way (referencing the fact that I received two tickets in the dispute). I was found guilty both times, and in one case, the judge mentioned the lack of sworn testimony, and in the other case, the (different) judge mentioned that s/he found it difficult to believe that the tickets were for the same parking situation since they were two days apart. Is there an appropriate way to address this situation too?
posted by taltalim to Law & Government (5 answers total)
How frustrating.

I think it's time to go to court in person and have a discussion with the judge.

I've had good luck fighting tickets in traffic court, so I'd try that first.

Is there a mechanism for doing an in-person appeal?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:10 PM on November 27, 2012

In Philadelphia, I had 3 tickets, 3 days in a row, after I'd been out of town for 3 weeks and they'd done road work 2 weeks in (signs weren't up when I left) so they moved (towed) my car out of the way, 2 blocks away, and left it in a 2-hour parking zone. When I went to fight the tickets, she still found me guilty because "I could have left my keys with a friend who parked it there." (What?! Like I have friends that stupid...) I did research and found the subcontractor who did the road work, but was never able to get a document stating either that they did work or moved my car. When I sent in a request for an appeal, I wrote the whole story, including that I was waiting for a document from the subcontractor. They scheduled my hearing for a date I couldn't attend, and I never got a document, but they cancelled my tickets anyhow. I attribute it to writing the whole story in detail with my signed testimony on the form that everything I was writing was true.
posted by DoubleLune at 1:31 PM on November 27, 2012

I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should speak with a competent attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

For the future, I agree that going to court in-person is probably the best way to deal with this.

Without the judge's actual explanation there's a limit to what any of us can tell you, but if I had to take a wild-assed guess, it would be this: there's no foundation for your photographs. That is to say, the photographs show what they show, but they don't, intrinsically, show that the car was indeed parked as shown in the photographs at the time the tickets were issued. We call that the foundation.

(You see it in the movies sometimes. "Have you seen this photograph before?" "no." "Do you recognize the subject of the photograph?" "Yes. It's my car in my garage." "Is the photograph an accurate depiction of your car parked in your garage as it was on the night of October 5, 2012?" "Yes, that's where it was parked on that night." "Is the fender crumpled in that picture?" "no, this picture must've been taken before the accident." &c.)

It seems likely to me that the court needs some kind of sworn foundation-laying statement from you with respect to the photographs you submitted. You might have to sign such a statement in the presence of a notary or other person empowered to take oaths by the state; I don't know. You might -- although I'd be surprised if this is true in traffic court -- just be able to check a box that says you make this statement under penalty of perjury &c &c.

Call the clerk and ask them.

Also, go easy on yourself. You weren't found guilty. You were found to have committed a violation.
posted by gauche at 1:34 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also not your lawyer, and not licensed to practice in NY. That said, I think there are two points to be addressed here:

1. Sworn testimony can be written, i.e. in declaration or affidavit form, or verbal, meaning you have to show up, be sworn by a judicial officer, and provide it. The acceptable form for a declaration or affidavit is generally set forth in a state statute. I think you could find the NY form in McKinney's CPLR, Article 23, which should be available at the public library. The court should also have sample declaration or affidavit forms.

2. You seem to be interested in pursuing this further. Most infractions have a means of appeal. Again, you should be able to get the forms and information you need to pursue an appeal or appeals from these rulings from the court.
posted by bearwife at 2:08 PM on November 27, 2012

As I remember from fighting NYC parking tickets, appeals were complicated and you had to first pay the fine. That's why I always showed up for the initial court date (which, with good pictures, were usually successful) and never bothered to appeal if I lost.
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:10 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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