Not Guilty…ish!


I’d reached the sagely age of 20, and had finally scratched together the down payment for a groovy avocado green Chevy Vega with harvest gold vinyl seats.

Then, just two weeks later, a very un-groovy cop pulled me over.

“But my speedometer said 65!”

“I clocked you at 72, son.”

I courteously explained that he was wrong and that I wasn’t his “son,” but he still gifted me with a speeding ticket.

That night I mentioned the situation (yelled about it) to my car-smart friend, Ray.

“Have your speedometer checked.”

“On a brand new car?”

“It’s a Vega.”

So I had it checked and, lo and behold, the speedometer was off by 7 miles per hour! I immediately began preparing my watertight defense.

At the courthouse, the Bailiff asked, “How do you plead?”

“Not guilty!” I proclaimed as I clutched my love-worn copy of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.

“In the case of the Universe vs. Mitch Teemley,” the Bailiff droned, “Mr. Teemley pleads not guilty.”

The Judge motioned me forward. “What’s your story, son?” (Why does everyone think I’m related to them?)

“Well, funny you should ask. There really is quite a story—”

“Guilty or not?”

“Um, well, not guilty because I was driving a brand new Vega and…”

The Judge’s eyebrows plunged vertiginously.

“I-had-the-speedometer-checked-and-it’s-off-by-exactly-seven-miles-per-hour! Sir!”

“Do you have the certification?”

I passed the document to the Bailiff.

“Guilty. You can pay your fine at the Clerk’s window down the hall. Next.”

I stood in stunned silence.

The Bailiff motioned for me to leave. I began shuffling away, but then stopped.

The Bailiff unsnapped his holster.

“I don’t understand!” I blurted.

“What is it you don’t understand? You were going 72 miles per hour,” said the Judge.

“Well, technically, yes—”

“Well, then technically you were breaking the law.”

“But it’s a new car. I didn’t know—”

“That doesn’t matter.


“We’re done here, Mr. Teemley.”

“Your honor, can I just ask you a question?”


I persevered. “If someone tied you up and tossed you through your neighbor’s window, would you be guilty of breaking and entering?”

“Pay the fine or go to jail, Mr. Teemley.”

I pulled Thoreau out of my pocket and read aloud: “’Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison!’”

The Judge stared in disbelief. “Do you want to go to jail, son?”

“No, your honor.”

“Then, pay the fine.”

“I can’t. It would be wrong.”

“But you broke the law.”

“Not knowingly. Maybe General Motors should pay the fine.” The courtroom erupted in laughter. I grinned.

That was bad.

Up until now I’d benefited from the Judge’s amused tolerance. But the moment I started working the room, his tolerance disintegrated. “You can change your plea to ‘guilty’ and go to traffic school. Or you can keep your ‘not guilty’ plea and go to jail.”

The Bailiff hoisted a pair of massive manacles.

Well, I’m not sure I…”images

“Choose, Mr. Teemley!”

“Traffic school!” the coward that lived inside me screamed.

“Thank you. Now go pay your fine.”

“You mean I still have to pay the…?”

The Judge’s eyebrows plummeted.

I’ve always had noble ideals. But the fortitude to stand by them, well… Those handcuffs were big, dammit! As I skittered away, Thoreau fell to the ground. Was the book trying to escape my craven company?

It would have gone to jail!

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Not Guilty…ish!

  1. Personally I think you got off easy. Out here in my town we would have arrested you for driving a Vega in public (well, anything avocado green really) – wonky speedometer or not …


    Liked by 6 people

  2. Notwende says:

    I guess that even that judge in „Caught in Providence“ would have sentenced you😂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Loved it, Mitch. We could be brothers, you know. I bought a blue Vega and my “man club” immediately banned me from weekly hanging out on Main Street.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. wow!! I would have let you off just for the amount of entertainment you provided the room with! You gave me a good laugh today, Mitch! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Pingback: Not Guilty…ish! — Mitch Teemley | Penny Wilson Writes

  6. diman5 says:

    Burst out laughing while reading this.Funny for real

    Liked by 3 people

  7. smzang says:

    I love it!
    If I’d been the judge, I’d have let you off just for having Thoreau in your pocket.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. joyroses13 says:

    Too funny! I was laughing the whole way through! I have to ask, did you ever have a wonky speedometer again that got you in trouble?

    Liked by 4 people

  9. grAnnie Roo says:

    I suspect every eloquent word is exactly how it was. In my day proving my innocence was still worth having to pay the court cost with my last dollar that week.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. You’re actually admitting that you once purchased a Vega?!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Oh, my… you are hilarious! What a tale! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  12. disturbedteacher says:

    Thanks for the laugh!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. It’s an unjust world, Mitch.
    My boss got a ticket in Gilbert, AZ for going 26 in a 25 mile per hour zone. He complained to the judge that it was ridiculous to ticket someone going a mile over the speed limit and that a speedometer probably would have at some variance. Judge didn’t care.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Great stuff! And I finally found the other owner of a Chevy Vega. Mine couldn’t hit 72 MPH!

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Mike says:

    Oh, the things we do at 20 …

    Liked by 3 people

  16. My thinking was that you WOW’d the Judge. And in a way you did, However, he was not on your wavelength and he stood his ground. You got off light. Great piece to share.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Ann Coleman says:

    LOLL! There are times to cling to one’s principles, and there are times to let them go……

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Good grief! What case did the judge heard before yours? Must have put him in a fowl mood. I would have dismissed the charge! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Great story Mitch!! Things don’t always go according to plan??? So, I’m guessing you don’t want to hear about the five times in a row I got stopped by the California Highway Patrol for speeding and got off without a ticket? Ha! I would have traded that experience for a winning lotto ticket!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Would you believe I had a green Vega, too?! And I also had a hard time keeping under the speed limit. But the similarities stop there. When stopped (at least six times) this cute li’l thing would just get upset, look like I was about to cry, and get off with a warning every time. Something tells me I wouldn’t get away with that today … :/

    Liked by 3 people

  21. da-AL says:

    Mitch — indeed, as so many have already commented, this is a great post — not just because it’s well-written & funny, but because it points out how difficult it is to hold to our ideals when there’s a price we might have to pay…

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Hilarious! I love your wit and I’m glad you didn’t go to jail. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: Scheduling Happiness | Mitch Teemley

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