The Ride to Court in Bryson City: November 16-17, 2006
Photos and article by FastFred Ruddock
I rode across the Blue Ridge to attend court
in Bryson City to oppose the helmet
ticket I acquired at the Fall Cherokee Rally. The weather
was rather nasty and at times the visibility was less than
forty feet when the clouds grazed the ridge. The strong
cross winds at the gaps would have challenged any green
rider and likely some veteran riders. The combination of
wind, rain, and cold temperatures made this ride almost
unpleasant. The rain began at the Looking Glass Rock overlook
just prior to Graveyard Fields. However my pagan deity must
have smiled upon me for as I arrived in Bryson City the
rain stopped for a few hours so I could eat, visit with
locals, and study my notes one more time.
Friday morning I went to the courthouse looking
forward to my day in court. However the District Attorney
informed all of us that we would not have court but rather
only an administrative meetings with him to determine whether
our cases merited trials. I found this both odd and somewhat
insulting after riding 300 miles to have my day in court.
The DA seemed shocked I wanted a trial; he though he had
a strong case with no chance of failure. However his demeanor
changed when I mentioned a few finer points of the NC helmet
law such as the fact the Legislature failed to define the
term "safety helmet" and that I was in fact not
bear headed at the time of my traffic stop. After a brief
discussion the DA began to seem quite frustrated and asked
me what I wanted him to do!
I told him "I reckon you can throw out
the ticket or schedule a court date as I came here prepared
for my day in court." He then asked me what were the
thick stack of papers in my possession. I just told him
those papers were my notes for court as I had expect to
have my day in court today. I did not by any means show
all of my cards to the opposition. The DA could only see
part of the first sheet of my notes which contained questions
for the arresting officer. By this time he seemed to have
the same bewildered look of so many law enforcement officers
I had encountered during my lidless rides in WNC. I suppose
he was trying to decide what to do.
The DA did finally decide to set a court date.
I suggested that since he and the state were so concerned
about my safety it might be wise to set the date for early
spring as I only own motorcycles and doubt they wished for
me to ride over icy mountain roads as a result this unexpected
delay of my day in court. He asked when and I suggested
April. Then he counter offered March 15th which I accepted.
Well it is not over and I have nearly four
more months to study and prepare. The down side is this
trip cost over $200. I suspect the whole ploy on the part
of the state was DA was for no more than to intimidate and
tax citizens into forfeiting their constitutional right
to trial. The mountain tops of the Blue Ridge were all white
with ice and snow upon my return.
No one ever said freedom was cheap and it
seems this fight will be no exception but at least I'm enjoying