I Know What I Should've Told That JudgeCommentary • Opinion • ISSUE 38•19 • May 22, 2002 By Larry Hasper Larry Hasper Oh, man, is it too late to get a re-trial? Because I'm sure I could think of something better to say this time. They give you a second chance when you play the McDonald's Monopoly game, and that's a lot less important than being on trial for grand-theft auto. The thing is, I totally know what I should've told the judge. Blame it on first-time jitters. Hey, I was facing five to ten years in jail. You try coming up with a convincing story under that kind of pressure. Anyway, what I should have told the judge was that, in the dark parking lot, that guy's Porsche looked a lot like my '91 Dodge Daytona. Sure, if it were daytime, the two probably wouldn't look at all alike. But under cover of darkness, there really was no way to know I was getting into the wrong car. Especially considering the fact that mine was parked less than 20 spots away. With a little more trial experience under my belt, I think I could've made the judge buy that honest mix-up. I also should've told the judge that I led the cops on a high-speed chase through three counties because I recently read somewhere that thugs have been putting police lights on the top of their cars, then pulling people over and robbing them. If they asked me where I read it, I could've said I forgot. It would have been a lot better than telling the judge I wouldn't pull over because of all the police brutality I've seen on TV. Given another go, I definitely wouldn't say that again. And it probably wasn't the brightest idea to keep bringing up how old the judge was. Like when, during sentencing, the judge said I needed to learn a lesson and was a danger to society, I shouldn't have called him a shriveled cocksucker. He really seemed sensitive about that. That might've tacked a few extra years on to my sentence. My lawyer tried to get sympathy from the court by trying to play off what I did as a youthful indiscretion—a joyriding 24-year-old with no previous record, out for a good time. But I forgot to tell my lawyer that when the cops pulled me over and asked where I was going in such a hurry, I was so drunk I said, "To the chop shop to make some easy money." I guess that detail temporarily escaped me. Boy, was my lawyer p.o.'d. To be honest, I think my biggest mistake was going with the court-appointed lawyer in the first place. He didn't even want to put me on the stand. When I insisted, he asked me to plead the Fifth. I told him if I plead the Fifth, I'd look even more guilty. If I had the chance to do it all again, I'd probably just admit I'd been drinking all night, instead of telling the judge and jury that I had one beer and that the breathalyzer was way off. In hindsight, it made me look bad, but like I always say, live and learn. Going through a felony court proceeding has really taught me a lot about what you should or shouldn't say. It's too bad there aren't any do-overs. Looking on the bright side, though, now that I've gone through it, my first appeal should be a breeze.