Bigger & Harman, APC - November 2019

LEGEND OF THE PIRATE QUEEN CHING SHIH: HISTORY’S MOST SUCCESSFUL PIRATE

British Empire, the Portuguese Empire, and the Qing dynasty of China, but no one could topple the pirate queen.

After almost a decade of pillaging the high seas, Ching Shih decided piracy wasn’t the best retirement plan. In 1810, she walked into the office of a local governor-general, completely unarmed, and requested full pardons and government jobs for her entire crew — along with permission to keep all their stolen goods. In exchange, she promised to give up piracy for good. Thankful to be free of the Red Flag Fleet, the Chinese government agreed to her terms. Ching Shih’s second husband was even made an officer in the Chinese navy. Ching Shih returned to Canton with her vast wealth and spent the next 34 years living a life of comfort with her family and running a gambling den. In 1844, the legendary pirate queen passed away of old age at 69, a rare feat for pirates of her era.

From Blackbeard to Jack Sparrow, pop culture teems with pirates who frequented the ports of the Caribbean. And while these pirates are well-known for their (sometimes fictional) accomplishments, the most successful pirate in history terrorized the seas of China instead. Her name was Ching Shih. Ching Shih, who was born Shih Yang, was working in a Cantonese brothel when she met the pirate Zheng Yi. He came from a long family of notorious pirates and was impressed by Ching Shih’s cunning. They married in 1801 and built a pirate empire known as the Red Flag Fleet. When Zheng

Yi passed away suddenly in 1807, Ching Shih strategically maneuvered her way into leadership, taking control of over 60,000 pirates.

Historians describe Ching Shih as a brilliant military strategist, a skilled

businesswoman, and a harsh disciplinarian. After taking control of the fleet, Ching Shih implemented a strict code of conduct. The code included rules for distributing booty, protecting female captives, and beheading anyone who disobeyed Ching Shih. Under her rule, the bloody crimes of piracy became a profitable business. The Red Flag Fleet would eventually clash with the

Understanding Prima Facie TICKETED AT FIRST SIGHT

To most people, hearing lawyers talk to one another feels like listening to another language. And in some instances, that is actually the case. For example, if you’ve ever faced a speeding ticket, you’ve probably heard the phrase “prima facie” thrown around. In Latin, this means “at first sight,” but in traffic law, it’s often the cause of a contentious speeding ticket. 2 SPEEDS Under California Vehicle Code, there are two types of speed limits: absolutes and prima facie. Absolute speed limits are what people are most familiar with when driving on freeways. Driving faster than the posted speed limit (for example, going 70 in a 55 mph zone) is considered a violation of these absolute limits and results in an automatic speeding violation. SEARCHING FOR A SIGN Prima facie speed limits are designed to fill the gap between absolute limits. These “presumed” speed limits are in place when no signage has been posted. These limits include going 25 mph in business and residential districts as well as school zones, and

slowing to 15 mph at railroad crossings, in alleys, and at highway intersections without 100 feet of visibility. Going faster than a prima facie speed limit is not the same as violating an absolute. BACK TO BASICS Prima facie violations can be challenged and overturned if you can prove you were not in violation of California’s basic speed law. This law states “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent,” meaning the prosecution needs to prove beyond doubt you were going too fast for the situation. Perhaps you were going faster than 25 mph in a school zone, but school was not in session, and therefore the “presumed” limit didn’t apply. Fighting these tickets means presenting your side of the story to the court, otherwise the judge will take the state’s evidence at face value. Having an expert team of traffic lawyers by your side can help give you the best defense for this preventable violation. If you are facing a prima facie speeding ticket, give us a call.

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