It is never good getting a moving violation, in this case a U-turn ticket while serving a $5.50 HopeLink fare from 3rd & Cherry up to a First Hill methadone clinic---getting nabbed by a motorcycle cop when there was absolutely no other cars around. But, as I know too well, that certainly doesn't stop anyone from issuing an unnecessary ticket. There can be craziness upon the local roadways 24 hours a day but a simple and benign U-turn is somehow deemed worth the time and trouble, plus of course blocking the bus lanes while the ticket is issued.
One could call my attitude self-serving but I will never, ever understand the necessity because I know there isn't one. It simply doesn't exist, ticketing should be about public safety and nothing else; and not, as in this case, the iron-clad application of rules defying reason and commonsense. Seattle has been infamous for issuing jay-walking tickets at 4 AM. Why, the usual out-of-town visitor protests, why did you give me this ticket? To those of us whom are long-time Seattle residents, we know the answer, and it ain't a pretty one either.
And can you believe Officer C___ even offered me legal advice, telling me to check the middle box because the magistrate issues warnings every seven years. The only problem with his suggestion is that it equates to being an automatic admission of guilt to the alleged violation; meaning by checking that little box I was giving up every legal right I have to fight the ticket. Can police legally give legal advice while simultaneously issuing citations? Logic also dictates that if the officer felt what I did warranted only a warning, why didn't he just tell me just not to do it again and leave it at that?
But no, it wasn't the officer's suggestion rubbing salt into the wound, making me question just exactly what is going on here. Instead it was receiving a "solicitation of service" letter to my home address from an entity calling itself the "Emerald City Law Group," and its owner, who I assume is an attorney, Stryder Wegener. I am sure you have heard the pubic warnings about scams perpetuated through the mail and over the telephone. The alarm rang upon my opening the letter.
My very first thought was, "How in the world did these people have access to my private information?" And when I called them at the number provided, they refused to tell me. What the gentleman did repeatedly say to me was "Do you want us to represent you? all the while it being perfectly clear I was calling them because I was gravely disturbed by their unsolicited letter.
The letter itself, which includes my Seattle Municipal Court case and reference numbers, attempts to convince me that hiring them is my best option. One quote is particularly telling:
"You can always fight the ticket on your own. That costs you time to go to court (at least a half day off of work), time to prepare for court (several hours), and your changes of winning are slim."
If that isn't manipulative, I don't know the definition of the word. They go on to say that they have an excellent track record of winning cases, providing the figures of 1,857 winning cases to only 38 cases loss. Of course they provide no evidence proving this is true.
So what is true about about Emerald City Law Group and their attempt to sign on new clients? At the very least their actions appear to be a blazon invasion of personal protections, acting upon some mysterious permission that they can and will do anything they want. Whether they have broken any laws is something I hope will be determined by whatever responsible authority. I have already filed a complaint with the State of Washington's Attorney General's Office. They in turn referred me to the local bar association. I will also be filing a complaint with and/or against the City of Seattle as some important questions need to be answered.
Is what Emerald City Law Group doing permissible and legal?
Are the records of alleged moving and non-moving violations,including jay-walking tickets, public or private information?
If private, how did Emerald City Law Group access the information?
If public, just how and why is this kind of information, including addresses and telephones numbers, freely available to anyone who wants it?
As said, I and the driving public require real answers to these questions. That the letter from Emerald City Law Group is, to my way of thinking, predatory, is beyond any doubt. Did I in any manner voluntarily provide them with my private information or request they contact me? The answer obviously is not at all, having never heard of them before receiving their letter last week.
Again, that this is a serious invasion of personal privacy is clear. The only remaining question is whether Emerald City Law Group will be held accountable. I will keep you posted. I am looking forward to knowing their response. As should be clear, an issued ticket is never a trivial matter. And Emerald City Law Group's actions only underline this reality. Beware, and remain aware, is my advise upon this and other situations regarding traffic violations.
And if, like me, you get strange letters in the mail from unknown lawyers, whatever you do, don't sign up with them. Instead, like me, contact the City of Seattle and others, asking,"just what the hell is going on?" A good and pertinent question, I am sure you would agree.