Our most recent traffic court appearance was before the Honorable Suzanne Brainard, Pennsylvania Magistrate District MDJ-34-3-03 Clifford, PA to defend a fine issued to an operator cited for being 17,000 overweight. We were curious how a combination vehicle with a registered weight from Maryland of 25,000 pounds and a weight on the scale of 23,600 could be cited for being 17,000 pounds overweight. We knew it was going to be an interesting morning when the officer issuing the citation started telling us where to sit in Judge Brainard’s courtroom, and tried to intimidate and suppress a supporting witness before the hearing.
Why all the hostility? Maybe Trooper Szuch was having a bad day, or woke up that morning to realize after a 20-year career as a Pennsylvania Trooper he was still at the bottom of the food chain chasing DOT violations from 3-car haulers and landscaper mulch trucks.
We argued our points and are greatful for Judge Brainard’s even handed and artful “smack-down” of Trooper Szuch on two different occasions during the hearing. We won’t try to argue the merits here, but the total fine was reduced by well over 50% and Judge Brainard listened attentively to complex DOT regulations from multiple states.
Trooper Szuch’s conduct in the courtroom was unbecoming any officer of the court, interrupting testimony and at one point smacking his head with gestures of frustration from our points to the judge. However the conduct became offensive when he characterized our drivers 29 years of Army active duty, including 2-years in Iraq as “irrelevant.” Shame on you Trooper John Szuch. Even if our arguments were 100% wrong, 29 years of active duty military service should never be characterized as irrelevant.
Maybe some anger management therapy would be relevant for Trooper Szuch.