Columnist for Monday, 6/11 - Sun Ra

The Penal Code

Excerpt from PEOPLE OF SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY VERSUS HARVEY OHRENLANG
No. 933-702 Argued May 31, 2001

ORAL ARGUMENT of THOMAS JUNESTRAKE, ESQ. on behalf of the defendant;
WITNESS EXAMINATION of HARVEY OHRENLANG, defendant, by Mr. Junestrake;
CROSS EXAMINATION of Mr. Ohrenlang, defendant, by NEIL COSTANZA, ESQ. on behalf of the PEOPLE OF SAN JOAQUIN.

MR. JUNESTRAKE: Thank you. Your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Mr. Ohrenlang is a man with a strong sense of honor and responsibility. He has a solid marriage, a job which he has held for thirty years, and is both known and respected within the community. If it please the court, I would like to introduce as evidence this sheaf of affadavits attesting to Mr. Ohrenlang's character. They are from work superiors, colleagues, neighbors, customers - over a hundred friends and acquaintances of Mr. Ohrenlang who uniformly describe him as honest, charitable, and responsible.
JUDGE BECK: Prosecution?
MR. COSTANZA: Go ahead.
[MR. JUNESTRAKE submits Exhibit 4]
MR. JUNESTRAKE: There. What I will show you over the next few hours is how such a pillar of the community could, through happenstance and bad luck, be faced with these charges. And I think, ladies and gentlemen, that you will agree the charges are both erroneous and totally out of keeping with the intentions and the actions of my client. Your honor, I'd like to call Mr. Harvey Ohrenlang to the stand.
[MR. OHRENLANG takes the stand.]
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Now, Harvey, what is it that you do?
MR. OHRENLANG: I'm a vacuum cleaner salesman.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: A good one?
MR. COSTANZA: Objection. Irrelevant.
JUDGE BECK: Mr. Junestrake?
MR. JUNESTRAKE: I'm sorry. Withdrawn. Okay - Harvey, as a vacuum cleaner salesman, are you on the road a lot?
MR. OHRENLANG: All the time.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Have you ever been involved in an accident before?
MR. OHRENLANG: No, not myself. I've stopped a couple of times to help people.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: I'd like to introduce exhibits five and six at this time. Exhibit five is Mr. Ohrenlang's driving record, which shows no accidents prior to this one, and only one speeding ticket from eight years ago. Exhibit six are four separate police reports which indicate Mr. Ohrenlang's involvement in assisting other motorists who had been involved in accidents.
[MR. JUNESTRAKE submits Exhibits 5 and 6]
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Okay, Harvey. Why don't you tell us what happened on April third?
MR. OHRENLANG: Well, I was driving up to Grass Valley, to sell some vacuums. I had just taken the cross-town freeway over to 99.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: From Tracy?
MR. OHRENLANG: Yeah. It was about seven in the morning. I was driving past Morada when it happened.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: How thick was traffic?
MR. OHRENLANG: Not very. It doesn't get thick again until you get to Elk Grove or so.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Okay, go ahead.
MR. OHRENLANG: Well, um, there was this big semi on my right. I didn't really notice much about it at the time. I passed it, and then a little while later, like half a minute, it sped up and came up next to me. There was a slower car ahead of it, an old Datsun I think, and the truck was matching my speed, and then it nearly hit the Datsun. The truck really slammed on the brakes, and started to skid - the driver must have just looked up and saw the Datsun in front of it.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: And then what happened?
MR. OHRENLANG: Well, the truck didn't stop, and kind of ran up onto the Datsun, not real fast, but it was a semi, right, so it just pulled the back of the Datsun under its grill. It was still trying to stop, so luckily it didn't roll up on the Datsun any farther, but the Datsun's rear had been crushed onto the pavement, and there were just sparks flying everywhere as the whole mess screamed along the pavement. Luckily, they kind of slid over to the right shoulder, and came to a stop.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: And what did you do?
MR. OHRENLANG: Oh, I stopped my car, and ran back to help. I could see the truck driver had gotten out all right, but there was a woman in the Datsun, just sitting there. I was real worried that all those sparks might start a fire, so I went to open her car door to see if she was all right.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Was she?
MR. OHRENLANG: Well, it looked like she hadn't been wearing her seat belt, and she was all slumped over like she was knocked out. Now, I know not to move someone in a car accident, but I was worried about there being fire, so I wanted to get the door open in case. So I started tugging at her door, trying to jimmy it open - you know how these old Japanese cars are pretty flimsy.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: And then what?
MR. OHRENLANG: Then these other cars, who must have been rubbernecking, I guess they hit each other, because all of a sudden behind me there was all this screeching and cars spinning around and stuff. One of the cars spun around and came just inches away from me. I didn't want to get killed, so I went back to my car.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Very good. Did you wait for the police?
MR. OHRENLANG: I sure did.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Of course. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think you can see that Mr. Ohrenlang in no way acted in a fashion that he felt would get anyone hurt, and in fact went out of his way to try and help the situation. Mr. Costanza, your witness.
MR. COSTANZA: Good afternoon, Mr. Ohrenlang.
MR. OHRENLANG: Good afternoon.
MR. COSTANZA: I'll get right to the point. Mr. Ohrenlang, you observed that the truck you passed sped up to pull alongside you again. Would you like to tell the court why the truck driver did that?
MR. OHRENLANG: Well-
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Objection! Speculation!
MR. COSTANZA: I'll rephrase. Is it not possible that the truck driver sped up again because the truck driver could see down into your car, and observe that you were wearing a twelve-inch rubber strap-on dildo?
MR. OHRENLANG: Um.
MR. COSTANZA: You are under oath, Mr. Ohrenlang. Were you wearing a dildo, in your car, at the time of the accident?
MR. OHRENLANG: I was.
MR. COSTANZA: Right. Ms. Gray, the truck driver, will testify later that the sight of the dildo is, indeed, what distracted her from the road, causing her to hit Ms. Cadarso's car. But, to continue - after you stopped, to help Ms. Cadarso, and got out of your car - did you remove the dildo in question?
MR. OHRENLANG: I forgot! I mean, I just wasn't thinking about it. I needed to see if they needed help.
MR. COSTANZA: You forgot you were wearing it?
MR. OHRENLANG: It was early, and I hadn't had my coffee. And anyways, I was worried about the accident.
MR. COSTANZA: So you ran over to Ms. Cadarso's car - wearing the dildo?
MR. OHRENLANG: I guess so.
MR. COSTANZA: And then you tried to open her door, grabbing the handle and pulling back and forth?
MR. OHRENLANG: Yeah. I suppose.
MR. COSTANZA: Don't you have any idea what that looked like to passing traffic?
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Objection - speculation.
JUDGE BECK: Prosecutor...
MR. COSTANZA: Sorry, your honor. Never mind that question. I have witnesses who will testify as to exactly what it looked like. Let me ask you this, Mr. Ohrenlang: why were you wearing the dildo?
MR. OHRENLANG: It helps me make sales.
MR. COSTANZA: You wear a dildo while selling vacuums?
MR. OHRENLANG: Oh, no! I just wear it in the car to psych myself up, before I have to go out selling.
MR. COSTANZA: You wear a dildo to psych yourself up?
MR. OHRENLANG: Everyone does something. My psychiatrist suggested it when Lois and I were, you know, having trouble in the bedroom, and it worked great, so I thought maybe I could use it to help make my numbers. And it works, too - I've been the top guy in the nation for three years running!
MR. COSTANZA: Right. Let's get back to the incident, shall we? After the thirty-two car pile-up began, and you returned to your car, did you "forget" the dildo again?
MR. OHRENLANG: Um, I don't know. I guess.
MR. COSTANZA: You guess?
MR. OHRENLANG: Well, I was really distracted by all the cars running into each other. When I got back to the car, I wasn't wearing it.
MR. COSTANZA: So you don't know what happened to it?
MR. OHRENLANG: I, no, not really.
MR. COSTANZA: Well, were you wearing it when the police arrived?
MR. OHRENLANG: No, no, I wasn't.
MR. COSTANZA: Why not? You seemed pretty comfortable waggling it at oncoming traffic before.
MR. JUNESTRAKE: Objection!
JUDGE BECK: Knock it off, prosecutor.
MR. COSTANZA: Sorry. Let me tell you what happened. You are a luckier man than you might realize, Mr. Ohrenlang, because the dildo actually was struck by a spinning car, and got torn right off you. It's a good thing it relied on velcro. You see, we found it embedded in the windshield of a 1997 Ford Aerostar minivan which had been going the opposite direction, probably flung there by the car which almost struck you. This is the cause of the pileup going the other way, not "rubbernecking". In fact, I just have one more question for you. Is this your dildo?
MR. OHRENLANG: Um. Yeah.
MR. COSTANZA: If it please the court, I'd like to introduce exhibit seven. One twelve-inch, strap-on, traffic-distracting confidence-boosting minivan-seeking missile, rather badly damaged. No further questions.


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