Loudoun County biker prosecution and "MS-8" Leesburg Court questions answered by cyclists' lawyer Landau

I left messages with the other two-wheeled Defendants that I was given contact information for by the Defendant Potomac Peddler ride co-leader. I cut our vacation short and returned to Virginia, getting to my office Monday evening to review the ticket, photographs and other evidence that had been left for me. By this time I had spoken with several other riders who had been charged June 7th, and advised that while my practice is primarily helping injured cyclists, runners and other victims, I would appear on their behalf and help them in the Leesburg Court the next morning.

On Tuesday morning, I and several of my staff met with the bikers, Commonwealths Attorneys (the prosecutors in Virginia), officers and other Loudoun County criminal and traffic defense lawyers. By the time our cases were called, the count was “2 Strikes and 2 Outs.” The court already had prepayment by a cyclist who plead guilty. Strike one. One of the bikers I had called chose to “go it alone.” He valiantly argued his case, and was found guilty, given a fine and court costs of several hundred dollars and FOUR POINTS on his DMV record. He may also face repercussions, depending upon his point balance, when it comes to getting car insurance and umbrella coverage. Strike two. The officer was not at all happy to see me there as counsel for the Defendants. After several hours, a substitute judge came on the bench and I indicated to the prosecutor that we were ready to try the remaining cases. No cyclist had avoided conviction and there had been no stop sign or signal acquittals for motorists either that morning.

I had discussions with three different Assistant Commonwealth Attorneys, debated the merits of our cases, demonstrated our photographic and documentary evidence, my clients “+5” DMV records and even the use of a “trackstand” and Idaho (rolling) stop. I also discussed the fact that my own wife shattered her arm coming to a complete stop on the W&OD Trail near Belmont Ridge Road. While I felt our case had strong merit, not everyone likes cyclists like I do. As one of my clients said, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.”

The prosecutor offered to dismiss the the failure to stop violation if we would agree to a non moving equipment charge. There would be no points, major fine or court costs and no appeal. I discussed this with my clients, staff and family members present, and it was decided to accept. This action would not prejudice the other cyclists I spoke with over the holiday weekend who requested continuances or sought to fight the charges another day. Then I was treated to lunch by my fellow cyclists, which was an unexpected treat. Little did we think that our actions in court would stir up so many additional questions ! So the question to those who felt they would have done better or differently, I ask 3 questions:

With 2 strikes & the pitcher throwing “heat,” do you swing for the fences or get on base ?

Should a lawyer try a case because he wants to (and put the client at risk) or should he follow his clients’ instructions ?

Once a problem is identified, wouldn’t exploring a systemic solution help achieve “the greatest good for the greatest number” of bikers outside of the criminal court context ?

Tomorrow, I will address specific questions relating to the Code, points, crimes and punishments.

10 responses on “Loudoun County biker prosecution and "MS-8" Leesburg Court questions answered by cyclists' lawyer Landau

  1. Jeffrey Widom

    With 2 strikes & the pitcher throwing “heat,” do you swing for the fences or get on base ?

    Answer >> What is best for the team? I’ll be looking fastball and swinging for the fence if the team is down one run in the bottom of the ninth and I have power to get the job done. I’d try and get on base if I am the #2 hitter and the big guns are behind me waiting to launch the ball over the fence in the middle of a tied game.

    In the case of the bike laws, in my opinion, you “swing for the fence” if you are confident that you have studied the law (pitcher) and your argument (swing) will lead the success (home run), but only if you are at the end of the game (case). Otherwise, you choke up on the bat and try and get on base.

    Once a problem is identified, wouldn’t exploring a systemic solution help achieve “the greatest good for the greatest number” of bikers outside of the criminal court context ?

    Answer >> I am *not* a lawyer; can’t afford the school. 🙂 However, as a citizen, I believe many people are not comfortable leading an effort to create a “systemic solution” for problems. These same people may not have the knowledge to pursue all the avenues available to collect supporting evidence to establish a sound argument. On a personal level, I get frustrated behind the *politics* of “the greatest good for the greatest number”. It is frustrating that change requires the involvement of so many town, city, county, and state officials that may/may not have the same agenda.

  2. Jeffrey Widom

    With 2 strikes & the pitcher throwing “heat,” do you swing for the fences or get on base ?

    Answer >> What is best for the team? I’ll be looking fastball and swinging for the fence if the team is down one run in the bottom of the ninth and I have power to get the job done. I’d try and get on base if I am the #2 hitter and the big guns are behind me waiting to launch the ball over the fence in the middle of a tied game.

    In the case of the bike laws, in my opinion, you “swing for the fence” if you are confident that you have studied the law (pitcher) and your argument (swing) will lead the success (home run), but only if you are at the end of the game (case). Otherwise, you choke up on the bat and try and get on base.

    Once a problem is identified, wouldn’t exploring a systemic solution help achieve “the greatest good for the greatest number” of bikers outside of the criminal court context ?

    Answer >> I am *not* a lawyer; can’t afford the school. 🙂 However, as a citizen, I believe many people are not comfortable leading an effort to create a “systemic solution” for problems. These same people may not have the knowledge to pursue all the avenues available to collect supporting evidence to establish a sound argument. On a personal level, I get frustrated behind the *politics* of “the greatest good for the greatest number”. It is frustrating that change requires the involvement of so many town, city, county, and state officials that may/may not have the same agenda.

  3. Brian Crow

    Doug,

    Just wanted to say thanks for defending not only the ms 8 but also all cyclist in this area by taking a stand. The officers or officer should of given a warning and the thing that really bugs me is that routes are given to the sheriffs office through the events application process so they had to know the route. I know this because I deal with them for all of our events. Is there a person I can write to to show my concern. The link you sent I am posting on the team site, its sad to think that the police dont have anything better to do other then ticket cyclist…seriouslyl! Ugh.

    Thanks for everything you do!

    Brian Crow

    Tri Performance, LLC

  4. Brian Crow

    Doug,

    Just wanted to say thanks for defending not only the ms 8 but also all cyclist in this area by taking a stand. The officers or officer should of given a warning and the thing that really bugs me is that routes are given to the sheriffs office through the events application process so they had to know the route. I know this because I deal with them for all of our events. Is there a person I can write to to show my concern. The link you sent I am posting on the team site, its sad to think that the police dont have anything better to do other then ticket cyclist…seriouslyl! Ugh.

    Thanks for everything you do!

    Brian Crow
    Tri Performance, LLC

  5. Susan A. Evans

    Hi Doug.

    I meant to call you on Friday, but time got away from me.

    Just wanted to let you know that I saw your segment on the news on Thursday night – and you were wonderful. Polished, well-spoken – you did a great job. I saw the piece on again on Friday morning, but they had a shorter segment without your interview – not nearly as compelling, of course. Looks like you just might get that star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame if you keep this up.

    Sue

  6. Susan A. Evans

    Hi Doug.

    I meant to call you on Friday, but time got away from me.
    Just wanted to let you know that I saw your segment on the news on Thursday night – and you were wonderful. Polished, well-spoken – you did a great job. I saw the piece on again on Friday morning, but they had a shorter segment without your interview – not nearly as compelling, of course. Looks like you just might get that star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame if you keep this up.

    Sue

  7. Doug

    Dear Miss Evans,

    While I do not intend to quit my day job, it’s nice to know I can acquit myself honorably OUTSIDE of the Court room. And, since you have seen me many times INSIDE the Court Room trying cases on behalf of those who are injured, disabled or suffering from occupational and other diseases, you know that my appearance on behalf of the cyclists in the Leesburg criminal (traffic) court was a not something that we do every day. Thanks for the complement, hopefully my head won’t get so big that my helmet won’t fit ! doug

  8. Doug

    Dear Miss Evans,
    While I do not intend to quit my day job, it’s nice to know I can acquit myself honorably OUTSIDE of the Court room. And, since you have seen me many times INSIDE the Court Room trying cases on behalf of those who are injured, disabled or suffering from occupational and other diseases, you know that my appearance on behalf of the cyclists in the Leesburg criminal (traffic) court was a not something that we do every day. Thanks for the complement, hopefully my head won’t get so big that my helmet won’t fit ! doug

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