Confusion and debate emerge as California courts adopt an emergency rule making it easier for people to fight traffic tickets.
Los Angeles Times (LA Times)
June 8, 2015
Organizations mentioned/involved: Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council), Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR), Western Center on Law & Poverty (WCLP)
Leaders of California’s court system, the Judicial Council, voted unanimously to end requirements that people pay the fines before being allowed to challenge them.
The new rule is intended to end the practice of requiring drivers to pay the ticket, which is technically bail, before they can contest it in court. Judges will still be able to charge bail if they have reason to believe the person won’t show up for trial.
Poverty lawyers complain the Judicial Council did not go far enough. Unpaid traffic tickets amount to more than $10 billion owed the state, according to a recent report by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR) of the San Francisco Bay Area and other groups.
The new rule does not give relief to drivers who already have failed to attend their first court appearance because they couldn’t afford to pay or didn’t get a courtesy notice. They will still have to bear the full cost of the violation before being allowed to challenge it.
“Virtually every county in the state has been requiring full bail payment to contest a failure to appear,” said Michael Herald, legislative advocate for the Western Center on Law & Poverty (WCLP), “and today’s rule does not help those clients overcome those problems.”Tags: Benefits of Legal Aid, Courts, Disaster, Driver's license suspension, Poverty