Later in the hallway I told the judge the cop's reasoning and his reply was: "He may have been wrong on the bicycle law, but you still should have handed him your ID"
That is correct. The officer was mistaken about the speed limit, but you snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by botching the police encounter. Probably, because you had not been properly trained on how to conduct yourself in a police encounter. You'd think that would be part of official university curriculum along with financial education - bah, probably a bad idea as the authorities would tamper with the curriculum. However, it is available, in a manner analogous to "The D.A." in Harry Potter -- taught ad-hoc by people passionate about civil rights bringing in guests like the ACLU to teach seminars. As such, to call it an "elective" is an understatement.
Get up to speed on how to conduct yourself in police encounters. The ACLU has pages and pages of quality analysis -- and all this stuff is "memory checklist items" for any citizen.
Now after 4 years I still can't get it off my mind and it's consuming me thinking that I was fooled into believing that the rule of law was the norm in this country (not the jungle law) and the beautiful constitution we have is not there just to look pretty, but something we can rely on.
I understand the hurt feelings and l'esprit d'escalier of wishing you had done something different... but honestly, bicycling across a huge nation is more ambitious and bold than perhaps you know, and it hurts my heart to think a bad experience has turned you into a shrinking violet.
If I may be brutally honest, there's some vanity in what you say. You have nurtured your hurt feelings and wrapped yourself in a feeling of injustice, but you have not displayed one ounce of admitting to error, and certainly not owned the mistakes and grown better by them.
You botched the traffic stop badly due to lack of education. The result was your fault. You should forgive yourself and use the burn as motivation to school up on how to do this. You're going to have to write the experience off - there's nothing you can do about it now. In law, you only get one bite at the apple. You could have lawyered up and fought the good fight, but you went another way for reasons. And that's it, the end.
DO NOT litigate "at the side of the road"
1 - Is making up a law on the spot an acceptable alternative to the requirement that the cops have to have a reasonable suspicion in order to detain a civilian? Remember, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"
Of course not, but again according to ACLU etc. advice, you do NOT litigate THAT at the side of the road. You follow the narrow "script" as their consumer lawyers have defined it, and then you get to the end of the encounter and move on.
Finish the police encounter without error on your part, and then, if there's a problem like an improperly applied law, sort that out later with the court. As cops famously say, "tell it to the judge". That is correct, cops aren't lawyers.
Typically the results of an improper police action are "fruit of the poisoned tree" and will be thrown out in court.
Expecting cops to be perfect is unrealistic. Do they "game" the fact that they're not lawyers by accidentally-on-purpose making "errors"? You bet they do, but this is not fixable at the side of the road.
The Vulcan "hello"
2 - Was the cop right? Does anyone know of a "minimum speed limit" on US hwy 60 ? (there were no signs about minimum speed limit or any signs regulating bicycle trafic on that road)
No, see Oklahoma 47-11-804. To set a minimum speed limit requires a special procedure, and set of underlying circumstances which would be extremely unlikely on the type of road a bicyclist would consider a suitable rural bicycle route.
But you missed the entire point of that stop, because you're seeing red about civil rights. Better to have more "street smarts" than that.
The actual purpose of the stop was to "get to know ya". They wanted to find out who you are, this random person going through their area of responsibility. And that stop was a whole bunch of "get to know ya" things at once:
- To see if you're a fugitive.
- If you were thinking of committing any crimes, to rattle you so you think of taking a pass on this county.
- To have your ID in case any local crimes happen connected to a mystery bicyclist, and/or to know who you are if they find your body in a ditch with ID missing.
- To do a welfare check (are you OK/ in distress?).
- To see if you're actually a local they don't know about.
- To see if you need help/advice / give you a chance to ask about wher things are.
- So you become a "known quantity" they can take off their radar.
I'm not endorsing that as a police practice, but it's a reality of how some police work, especially in places where "everybody knows everybody". Also, actually, crime is worse per-capita in rural areas - that's not widely known, but the cops sure know it.
Of course because they're police they do that uniquely cop-ish way, the "Vulcan hello" (not quite, but it's catchy if you've seen Star Trek: Discovery). Rattling your cage is part of sizing you up. And you would be better off having the "street smarts" to roll with that, and perform your side of the script correctly but be a nice person.
Put them at ease. Yes, it's an annoying chore.
On a single ocasion" ? As I was saying, this incident "culminated a series of many similar experiences" with "funny" excuses for harassment.
Well, it's not that often they see a Mars Rover!
Seriously, you're unusual. It's not every day they see a long haul biker coming through their county. So they're just as interested as all the other people who say "hi" and ask you questions. They just do it in their uniquely cop-ish way. For best success, recognize that is what is happening, and deal with it kindly. They are regular folk, probably a fair bit nicer than your peers, because "nice" is a social prerequisite in a small town, and they don't like having to do the "cop-ish" thing any more than you do. So yes, it's galling to have to "break the ice" when they open the conversation with red and blue lights, but they don't enjoy their role in that Kabuki theater any more than you do, and when you successfully break the ice, things will probably go pretty well. Of course, never forget it's a traffic stop, and do not violate the rules of those.
I regularly do this (granted, when I'm pulled over I'm not innocent) but as soon as possible I drop that I spend summers here volunteering at a local charity. I can't tell you how many "nice to meet you/don't worry about it"s I get. Likewise for you, "Yeah, am I on the right road for <perfectly respectable local lodging or dining here>?" That immediately lets them tick a bunch of the above boxes and puts them at ease - you're regular folk, just odd in a way that's not their problem.
And as you get better than this, you get good at following the script with panache so it doesn't offend the officer. For instance, "I need you to _______" is standard form because case law says it's a police order you must obey if it's a valid order, otherwise it's a request. But that allows them to "play it both ways" giving plausible deniability of accused of an illegal order. The proper reply is" Is that a police order?" calling their bluff and making them commit. However this is confrontational; you're calling them a bad cop. Much smoother is to say "do I really have to? (glances at gear) It'll take some digging". That calls their bluff exactly the same, but gives them a face-saving "out": aw, don't worry about it. That's what I mean about skill and street smarts.
I know it's grating, but it's like Sun Tzu says: always give your enemy a retreat path (unless you're prepared for a fight to the death).
When you dig the hole deep enough, you need to go to court.
3 - Was the judge right to make me come back to OK (under threat of arrest warrant) just to tell me that he can not dismiss the case (in case I was to plead not guilty) ?
Yes, even presidents have to appear at arraignments. However given the distance you'd been better off retaining a local lawyer, who would a) probably have been able to make the whole thing go away (and then, no arraignment at all), or b) would have at least been able to appear in court for you, saving you most of the trips. Country lawyers often aren't nearly as expensive as city lawyers. Have you heard the one about the person who represents oneself has a fool for a client?
They don't arraign for traffic tickets. This was a serious matter and you don't even realize it. You were in the soup. You got into it by botching the police encounter, which opened the door to their searching your belongings, which then "compounded" your trouble with your mishandling of the drugs. Come on, man, you've crossed national boundaries. Each drug always in a pharmacy-supplied container.
The drug thing would have resolved itself once they tested, but probably polarized them into pressing charges they might not have otherwise pressed. I'm sure your aggressive but ill-informed conduct did not help matters.
This could've been much worse. Learn to behave at police encounters.
I was fooled into believing that the rule of law was the norm in this country (not the jungle law) and the beautiful constitution we have is not there just to look pretty, but something we can rely on.
I was raised to believe that freedom isn't free, and it's something you have to fight for. There are a lot of people fighting the good fight, and you should stand on the shoulders of these giants instead of what you've been doing. And ask anyone who's been the victim of a predatory lawsuit or civil asset forfeiture, you don't get to volunteer, you get drafted. That's how it is. And I think you know it has to be that way. I'm sorry you got drafted.
By the way, there's not a small chance the cop feels the same way about freedom. But the job of a police officer is to catch bad guys, and they depend pretty heavily on them not being all that bright. If you stick up for your rights friendly but firmly, you're likely to get respect.