Monday, December 7, 2009

Media roundup on Parking "Court" controversy

First off is the Indiana Law Blog, which has made three entries on the subject, the latest one raising these concerns:

My questions continue with today's story. Don't "courts" require judges with some sort of authority even if they are not lawyers, rather than these employees of the contracted parking ticket company? And what kind of procedural rules apply?


Sec. 103-59 deals with procedure on denial of violation, failure to appear, or failure to pay. If a person fails to timely admit the violation and pay the civil penalty, then under Sec. 103-59, "the violations clerk shall report such circumstances to the city prosecutor for appropriate administrative or judicial proceedings against such person." In other words, the ordinance violation bureau does not appear to be the forum to contest a parking ticket.

Paul Ogden at Ogden on Politics has an entry also, which the ILB links to:
Translation of that second to last paragraph? If you dare exercise your right to a trial over your parking ticket, the City is going to ask that your fine be increased up to $2,500. How's that for an incentive to pay?

The Marion County Traffic Court is doing the same thing. When defendants go into court they are warned by the bailiff, the prosecutor and the judge that if you take your case to court and lose, you can be fined an additional $500. Judge William Young lives up to that promise, imposing an additional fine of $400 or $300 on litigants who are unsuccessful.

Make no mistake about it. The Traffic Court fine and the City's threat of an up to $2,500 fine for parking tickets, are not fines for their respective offenses, but rather fines imposed on people for going to court. Most people I've talked to believe that fining someone for exercising their right to go to court, a right protected by the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions, is highly offensive. The practice may also be illegal. Stay tuned.

The Indianapolis Star, however, has been little more than a mouthpiece for the city. Their two articles on the subject (linked to in yesterday's post) offered no opposition view, citizens' view, or question the need for a parking "court" in the first place.

Good going bloggers. We need you when the Star misses the ball.

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