Abigail Tulis is filing notice of appeal in the Virginia court system about the trooper highway racket and its use of a summons that by design violates the constitutional rights of travelers and other victims.
She was convicted of improper driving in Marion County circuit court at a Sept. 24 hearing from which she was absent. The judge, Colin Gibb, denied her arguments in writing, “entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf *** and proceeded to hear the case,” according to a letter from the court. Looking at the record, the judge “hereby finds the defendant guilty of improper driving as charged in the summons.”
Miss Tulis’ brief describes the grievous legal defects in the Virginia uniform summons. These arguments about due process were ignored, and the judge had no use either for her affidavit describing her kangaroo court trial in district before judge Travis Lee.
Judge Lee had convicted her at the last minute not of reckless driving, which was the charge, but of improper driving and fined her the full possible amount of F$500. Marion County clerk Amanda Bennett says in a bill that Miss Tulis owes F$654.
Abigail’s defence attacking the summons goes to the heart of the modern administrative police state. And that is its tendency to give its victims improper or insufficient notice, its failure to establish the essential elements of any purported crime. The charge of reckless driving, as in her case, must be made by a rehearsal of all the essential elements, and these essential elements are to be proven at trial as fact.
Virginia trooper Brandon Frye alleged none of the elements in his use of the summons, in violation of her rights to notice. At trial, he established one element — that she was moving down the road in a car.
The reckless driving essential elements to be alleged and proven:
➤ Self-propulsion or locomotion in car, truck or motorbike or the driving or operating of a motor vehicle
➤ Intent or scienter — “recklessly”
➤ Proximity others (in the Virginia law, the reference to “any person”)
➤ Acts (traveling “at a speed or in a manner”) that endanger “the life, limb, or property” of people nearby
It is necessary to detail the essential elements of reckless driving to suggest that the trooper has a duty to know the law he is enforcing, and to lay out his evidentiary facts in terms of the reckless driving law so bring the accused within the court’s jurisdiction. “[I]t is a fundamental principle that ‘criminal statutes are to be ‘strictly construed against the Commonwealth and in favor of [a] citizen’s liberty.’” King v. Commonwealth, 6 Va. App. 351, 354, 368 S.E.2d 704, 706 (1988).
The summons creates a duty in the officer to deny proper notice. It gives him no room in which to narrate the alleged facts in terms of the law he is applying.
Miss Tulis didn’t even broach the subject of whether she was subject to the Virginia transportation law under which she was convicted. Her defense, effectively, didn’t get to that lack of subject matter jurisdiction, focusing as it did not the lack of jurisdiction as caused by the insufficiency of the charging instrument used against her.