Before I became a lawyer, I finished everything ahead of time. Term paper? Completed two weeks early. Trip? Packed a week in advance. Taxes? Filed in February. Alas, those days are nearly two decades behind me. Now I squeak in just under the wire with everything I do—including my weekly blog posts. I could proffer a host of reasons, but don’t think I need to so long as I meet the deadline. My modus operandi may explain why I was particularly troubled by the traffic stop in State v. Baskins, ___ N.C. App. ___ (May 17, 2016).
A few years ago, my babysitter texted me that she was going to be late because she had been pulled over by a police officer on the way to our house. When she arrived, I was in full-on substitute parent and attorney mode. Are you okay, I asked? What happened? She was nonplussed by the whole affair. Her registration had expired a few months before. She hadn’t noticed. The officer explained that if she renewed her registration and provided proof of that to the assistant district attorney on her court date, the charges would be dismissed. Oh, I said (slightly deflated that she needed absolutely no input from me—a so-called expert). But she did have to go to court to clear all this up. And that required parking in downtown Raleigh on a weekday, finding her way to the appropriate courtroom and standing in line to pay her ticket. A new procedure, soon to be rolled out statewide by the Administrative Office of the Courts, will do away with this last step, preventing hundreds of thousands of citizens from having to appear in court to have their motor vehicle law charges dismissed upon proof of compliance with the law.