A shootout at the Caste Corral | Just Jaggin' | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A shootout at the Caste Corral

I fought the law and … well, read the story

A shootout at the Caste Corral
CP photo: Josh Oswald
Exhibit A

The Port Authority Transit parking lot I use is the Dodge City of the South Hills. There’s never a day when 100 cars aren’t illegally parked using the “create your own space at the end of a row” method. Demand easily outweighs supply, and cheating a bit almost seems encouraged. But every few months, the Port Authority sheriff makes his rounds. 

I got a parking ticket in a snow-covered Port Authority parking lot with no “no-parking” signs in a 100 yard radius. So, I took a picture of my legally parked car from angles that would make Terry Richardson blush. 

“I’m gonna put the system on trial,” I muttered to myself as I held a $50 parking ticket with $80 additional in “surcharges” and “fees.” One-hundred and thirty dollars out of my pocket, because I want to save the environment and ride mass transit. Well, that dog won’t hunt. 

So, I mailed in the check. Turns out, the system is so confident that you will either not show up, lose, or die before the trial, that they cash your check upon receipt. 

I waited for my court date like a kid waiting for Christmas. “I have photographic evidence I did nothing wrong!” I thought about Googling how to represent myself in a court case but was too lazy. 

When I arrived at the magistrate's building, there were about four other people in the waiting room. Of course, I tried to determine what each was in for. But I quickly found out, because these people do not care what others might overhear. There was a British guy (I’m guessing) who missed his trial, couldn’t pay the fine, and the teller told him the only way he wasn’t paying anything is “if you die.” There was a woman who recently had surgery, felt ill, and was excused. Fifteen seconds later another woman came running out of the courtroom to say that this was the 10th time she has given that story to get out of court.

I finally got called into court with the only other person who didn’t divulge his legal woes to everyone in the waiting room. He looked classy, so I figured we were both going to clean up. We got called to the bench simultaneously, and the judge rattled off some legalese that translated to the officer did not show up, so you will both get your money back. 

But I had to show the judge my carefully prepared evidence. Turns out the other guy, who was ticketed on the same day, also had pictures. The judge was not impressed by either of our defenses. He congratulated us on our victories and sent us back into the snow. Justice served. 

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest
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Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest

By Pam Smith