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We Love Fighting These Cases

Attorneys Marc Lopez and Zac Bailey recently conducted some pre- and post-trial analysis on a Decatur County traffic case. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of their conversation.

Marc Lopez
What’s going on in this rural county in Indiana? Give us the update.

Zac Bailey
So I’m here in beautiful Decatur County. It’s cool, they’ve got a tree coming out of the courthouse. I can look at it right now. 

So we’ve got a client who’s adamant that he didn’t do what he’s charged with, and it’s a traffic violation. They alleged that he didn’t yield to an emergency vehicle and he’s adamant that he did.

Marc Lopez
Back up, back up—what is the law in Indiana? You see an emergency vehicle coming at you— just bring us up to speed. Assume the person wants to know and has no idea.

Zac Bailey
You want to pull over, if you can. If it’s not safe to pull over to the right, slow down as much as you can. You’re supposed to go 10 miles an hour under the speed limit to pass an officer on the side of the road. As long as you can see flashing lights, you’re on notice at that point. You need to pull over or slow down.

Marc Lopez
So that’s if the officer’s on the side of the road. What if you look in your rearview mirror and you see lights coming at you? What are your obligations?

Zac Bailey
At that point—if they’re not initiating a traffic stop—your job is to get out of their way or stop and allow them to pass you. But you’re not supposed to keep going and block their path.

Marc Lopez
So in this particular case, there’s not a criminal act involved. Why are we fighting this, man? What’s going on?

Zac Bailey
We love fighting these cases, and our client is adamant that he didn’t do anything wrong here. This is important to him, which means it’s important to us. So we’re going to go in there and we’re going to do a trial on it.

Marc Lopez
I’m so excited. Back when I was in law school, I wasn’t like, I can’t wait to defend traffic cases, but this stuff’s important. And it’s the little battles that add up to the big ones. Our client tells us this is going to affect his future, and so, you know, we talk a lot about trials here, and we love putting our money where our mouth is. 

I am so excited. The moment you get done with this trial, you call me back.

Zac Bailey
Will do.

Marc Lopez
Good luck, boss.

Zac Bailey
All right, thank you.

[Recording breaks while Attorney Bailey takes care of business.]

Marc Lopez
What’s the verdict, man?

Zac Bailey
Not guilty. Dismissed before we even had to present evidence. We got a—let’s call it a 41(B) dismissal.

Marc Lopez
Remind anyone who’s watching what a 41(B) is.

Zac Bailey
A 41(B) is when the State hasn’t met the burden of proof. Before it goes to the judge—before we even have to present evidence—as soon as the State closes their case, we can move for a dismissal saying they didn’t present enough evidence to sustain any sort of conviction. 

That’s what we did in this case. And after doing some code cites and some arguments, the judge agreed with us and dismissed the case.

Marc Lopez
So what was the trick you had up your sleeve, Zac? 

Zac Bailey
We talked about the two different ways you can get pulled over for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle—they charged our guy under the wrong section. We caught it and we tried to work something out with the prosecutor to dismiss ahead of time, but these just aren’t the kind of cases that they typically offer deferrals on. So we took it to trial, waited for the state to present their evidence, and then we moved for the dismissal.

Marc Lopez
You know, Zac, some people will get mad—Marc Lopez Law Firm, you guys are tricky. You guys should have talked to the prosecutor ahead of time. If we had talked to the prosecutor ahead of time, what would they have done?

Zac Bailey
They would have amended the charging information.

Marc Lopez
It’s the same thing you and I did when we were prosecutors.

Zac Bailey
Exactly.

Marc Lopez
Zero incentive to show your cards. Like you said before, we were trying to work this out with the prosecutor. Hey, give us something so it’s off his record in a few months. Give us some community service or a small fine. They wouldn’t play ball. So luckily this guy found us—and Zac! Stellar job, man! I’m super proud of you, buddy.

Zac Bailey
I appreciate it.

Marc Lopez
Go talk to that client. Make sure he’s happy. You have a great day, buddy.