Friday, May 19, 2006

Peter's World

I’m going to make a generalization about the denizens of blogs such as TDD. The interest in the sorts of topics that appear here bespeaks of minds analytical, disciplined and educated, although possibly possessed of an underlying, benign, personality disorder.

Just the kind of minds very unlikely to get any closer to our justice system in practice than the one-eyed brain sucker and the Law & Order franchise.

There are exceptions, of course -- those who practice law as a profession. Peter Burnet is our resident expert practitioner, routinely inhabiting an environment likely nearly, or completely, alien to the rest of us.

Unfortunately, despite my (self-diagnosed) educated, analytical, disciplined mind, I recently paid a visit to Peter’s World, and decided to tell the tale.

My wife and I had spent the afternoon and evening at friend’s house, before shifting to a local nightclub. At roughly midnight, with nearly an hour’s drive in front of us, we headed for home.

Most of the way there, I turned right at a T-intersection, waited at the red another couple hundred yards down the road, then continued on the last leg of our journey. About a mile later, my rear view mirror suddenly filled with the flashing lights of a police cruiser. And just like every other motorist since the dawn of automotive time, my eyes went straight for the speedometer.

Forty-four. Speed limit 45. What the …?

Since it was a busy highway, three lanes each direction, I waited until a side street, turned, and pulled over. I carefully did all the make-the-police-officer-comfortable things: shut off the motor, turned on all the interior lights, opened my wallet and placed it on the dashboard, opened the window, and grasped the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions.

My mystification as to my being the focus of the local constabulary’s attention was short lived: “The reason I pulled you over is because I observed entering the intersection two seconds after the light turned red.”

Well, when I turned right, the light wasn’t green, but as my car crossed the line marking the intersection’s boundary, it was still yellow, if only just. “Two seconds” was so far from what I observed that my surprise caused me to momentarily lose track of diplomacy.

“No, I didn’t”

“Yes you did, sir. Have you been drinking?”

Two things were suddenly apparent. First, further argument on this point would serve only as a classic case of a self-inflicted wound. And, second, under the circumstances I would have greatly preferred the car’s interior not be redolent with alcohol fumes.

Before I could offer anything in the way of an answer, he asked me to follow his flashlight with my eyes. Which, so far as I could determine, I was able to do without a hitch, twitch, or wander.

“Sir, I’d like you to step out of the car and perform a field sobriety test. Failure to do so counts as an admission you are driving under the influence.”

All in all, I’d say that counts as a persuasive argument.

So in front of someone’s house, with the cruiser’s lights flashing, bathed in its harsh spotlight, and with his partner standing a careful distance away, I got to do the perp walk and associated pavement gymnastics.

“Hold your arms straight out... Close your eyes, touch your nose with each index finger in turn... Stand on one foot, and look up with your eyes closed... Switch feet... Walk toe to heel for twenty steps, then pivot, walk the same way back to where you started, and pivot again... Starting at 97, count backward by threes until you get to 76 …”

Next: Peter’s World -- The Bust.


Blogger Brit said...

Don't you have breathalysers in the States? They're brutally objective.

That 'perp walk' reminds me of the very funny scene in 'The Man with 2 Brains' (I think) where Steve Martin has to do increasingly difficult things to prove he's not drunk - hopping along a line whilst juggling and singing the national anthem backwards etc.

May 19, 2006 8:31 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Yes, they do, but for some reason don't use them until after the perp walk.

I think it has to do with probable cause.

Back in the day, when I lived in England, I had just left Banbury on the road to Oxford, when a car passed me at a fare clip just before the beginning of an extended no-passing zone.

Very shortly thereafter, my rear view mirror was filled, as in completely, by headlights that couldn't have been more than four feet off my bumper.

Being somewhat distracted, I allowed my right front tire to touch the white line going around a curve.

Whereupon the headlights were joined by flashing police lights.

The first question was: "Have you been drinking?"

To which I answered, truthfully: "Yes, a beer."

Whereupon I got to blow in the pipe. When he saw the result he said "Are you sure you've been drinking?"

I forgot to mention it was an American beer ...

And I neglected to suggest that tailgating like he was amounted to bloody stupid driving.

May 19, 2006 8:57 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Ah those bloody American beers. You have to drink at least sixty before you even slightly throw up and get into a fight.

May 19, 2006 9:09 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Are you going to pull a typical Daily Duck trick and keep us waiting five days before the next post?

May 19, 2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Peter, you must suffer from Judd's disease, more commonly known as ADHD. We are not a post mill, things unfold at a leisurely, gentlemanly pace here. Quality over quantity, and all that rubbish, mate.

May 19, 2006 12:10 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Yes, fine, but surely not by the half-post? Or are you trying to revive the 19th century concept of the serial novel?

May 19, 2006 1:19 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


With regard to me, it isn't so much quality over quantity as desparately hoping to avoid not both.

May 19, 2006 1:31 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Perhaps Skipper could turn this into a cliffhanger a la "24". But I think that we are all just anxious to find out what color pajamas you will be wearing in the near future.

I had my own brush with Peter's World (now I have this image of Peter as Mike Myers) about 7 years ago. While driving to work one day I inadvertently passed a school bus when the red lights were flashing. It was charged as a full misdemeanor, not a petty misdemeanor, and I couldn't just mail in the fine, but had to make a court appearance. I was ready to plead guilty without a trial, but the judge, sensing that I hadn't consulted a lawyer, suggested it might be better to consult one before making a plea, and she postponed the hearing for two months.

I called a local attorney who suggested that I negotiate for a lowering of the charge to petty misdemeanor. Sure enough, at my next hearing that is what I did, and they agreed to plea-bargain me down to the petty misdemeanor.

May 19, 2006 2:49 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


But I think that we are all just anxious to find out what color pajamas you will be wearing in the near future.

Boy, what a warm, sensitive, caring lot you all are.

As if.

You didn't even care to ask whether I look good in stripes.

May 19, 2006 7:38 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Semiweekly Duck is more like it.

Fewer but more reflective comments and posts.

May 19, 2006 7:52 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


Fewer but more reflective comments and posts.

Yeah, I'm going to take the same approach with my practice. Maximum two cases per year. It has nothing to do with laziness, I just want them to be very high quality and reflective. :-)

May 20, 2006 5:25 AM  
Blogger David said...

Technically, "perp walk" is a term of art for taking someone accused of an infamous crime (the "perpetrator") to or from the police station or courthouse through (and this is the defining characteristic) a phalanx of print and television reporters. The perp, usually handcuffed, tries to hide his face, while the escorting officers, either the arresting officers or their superiors, make every effort not to hide theirs.

May 20, 2006 7:23 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Well, that's why I added so much staff, to try to get the averge up to daily. But it seems everyone gets infected with the "DD" attitude and thinks they can slack off because someone else will cover for them. But you lose the alliteration effect with "Semi-Weekly Duck", so it stays at Daily.

Skipper, we are all very concerned with your fate. You would look good with stripes or orange. But seriously, do we need to start a Skipper Defense Fund?

btw, my posting will be scant for the next week, I have th get the house cleaned up for my daughter's graduation party next Friday.

May 20, 2006 7:40 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Technically, you are correct.

But doing the pavement gymnastics in the glare of a spotlight, in full view of anyone who chose to look out their window, felt exactly like the real thing.

May 20, 2006 8:23 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

That's all right, Duck. At least you are giving Harry lots of time to reflect on the nuances of his position on the Catholic Church.

May 20, 2006 11:41 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

If I were inclined to reassess my opinion of the Catholic church, the Vatican's announcement yesterday that it has uncovered within itself another intercontinental child rape ring that it plans to do nothing about would probably lead me to conclude that I'm already nuanced enough, thanks.

May 21, 2006 12:21 PM  

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