Hamilton County General Sessions Courts Are Running Like A Sewing Machine - And Response (3)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Had the experience of accompanying my wife to traffic court yesterday. She decided to come home via 4th street to 27 one day. Instead of throwing her under the bus, let me just say she was going way too fast in a construction zone.

Anyways, what I really wanted to mention was just how well things are being run down at Hamilton County Courts. Apparently after consultation with law enforcement authorities, they made some changes since the last time I was there. What was missing was all of the officers that wrote the tickets causing People to go to court. You see, they don’t need to be there the initial date, being that most cases are resolved that visit. It goes like this, guilty or not guilty? Not guilty, so you say you weren’t going that fast? Okay, but do you admit you were going over the posted speed limit? The judge then examines the defendant's driving history, and rules his or her judgement. 

This idea is absolutely genius and makes so much sense. I’m betting it saves tens of thousands or more every year in officers' pay. My hat truly goes off to the court administration, local judges, and law enforcement officials for bringing common sense into the court house. Now if we can incorporate some of that common sense into “other” local governments, the sky would be the limit. 

James Berry 

* * *

Expedited justice is great, but not at the expense of the constitution.   When the government accuses a citizen of a crime, the citizen has a right to confront their accuser.  

It seems what Mr. Berry is describing is a mediated form of resolution occurring to expedite speeding tickets and save time on the part of the government.  I guess all you need to do is ignore the constitution or waive your rights, in the case of a speeding ticket. 

Sure, that is a win for the taxpayers, who wants police officers hanging around court over speeding tickets. Yet, sometimes there are special factors, called not guilty.  

There is an inconvenience to the government when they issue citations in conformance to the constitution, as there should be.  Can the part of confronting the accuser be omitted from the process?  I guess so, because you can admit guilt and pay the speeding ticket without going to court.  

So why go to court at all if you are guilty?  Pay the ticket, and quit taking up the courts time on your guilt.  I would say most people never go to court, and just pay the ticket, unless they are innocent and have special circumstance. 

For the person ticketed that goes to court,  I thought they had a constitutional right to face their accuser on day one in court.   I am not sure I understand the “new” system Mr. Berry is describing. 

Are moving violations of speeding tickets heard in prehearings where the government does not have to produce the accuser?  I guess the citizen simply relinquishes their rights, answers the questions without representation, and hopes for the best.   This approach would not advisable for some drivers to throw themselves on the mercy of the court.

April Eidson 

* * * 

The lower courts are where our citizens usually first face our justice system. These are therefore the courts where our constitutional rights must be most carefully observed. 

The constitution is more important here, than anywhere else. If a person feels their rights are not respected by those appointed or elected to protect them, we can't expect them to become good citizens. 

If a police officer is not at the court at the time appointed for the accused citizen to appear, the case should be dismissed, because there is no admissible evidence that a violation has occurred without the officer's testimony. 

John L. Odom 

* * *

I agree that a police officer who writes a traffic ticket should be in court at the time he tells his victim to be there.  Otherwise any officer can arbitrarily cause any citizen a lot of mental anguish, lost time, trouble and expense, without any inconvenience at all to the officer. 

While driving on a vacant city street one quiet Saturday morning several years ago, I saw a police car being handled violently in a parking lot ahead.  My first thoughts were, (a) he's got an emergency!  And, (b) he's driving that car like it was stolen!  So I simply stopped in the middle of a left turn and waited for the obviously upset cop to make his next move; he tore into the intersection and turned, and then I followed at some distance behind him.  The cop, it seemed, didn't really have any emergency after all; instead he looped around and pulled in behind me and claimed that I had turned left on a red light. 

Well, first, I had stopped in the intersection simply because of his antics, reasonably giving him the right of way.  And, second, how had he seen a red light on a cross street that was a hundred yards behind him?  The whole thing had obviously been a setup, a trick he had developed to use against innocent citizens when nobody was watching.  [Yes, after I complained loudly, the cop's captain called me and said the guy was upset at having to work on Saturday, and even more upset at having to work a different area than he was used to.  City Councilwoman Marti Rutherford called me, too, and said that as an official she'd had repeated trouble with that particular cop.] 

But he wrote me a ticket anyway, told me to be in court at a certain time on a certain day a month later, and went on his merry way -- surely laughing at the many problems he was causing me.  Come the court day, I was there but the cop wasn't, and the judge wasn't pleased about that; he said this wasn't the cop's first no-show.  But that made no difference; I was told to come back two weeks later, with the judge's promise that the cop would be there or else. 

Two weeks later I took time off to go to court again.  But the judge's promise didn't work; the lying cop didn't show up, of course, because there was no way he could defend his own crooked actions on that long-past Saturday morning.  So the judge told me I was dismissed, free and clear of any charges or responsibility. 

Whatever happened to the cop I don't know (oh, yes, I still know his name, the lying jerk; I speak disrespectfully because disrespect is all I have for him).  All I know is that I spent six weeks in limbo, hoping that an honest judge would believe me and see through a dishonest cop's actions and claims -- but then I got no satisfaction except to be told to go home and be done with it. 

So, I definitely believe that any police officer who writes a traffic ticket should be in court at the time he tells his victim to be there.  Otherwise any officer can arbitrarily cause any citizen a lot of mental anguish, lost time, trouble and expense, without any inconvenience at all to the officer.  And if the cop isn't in the court at the appointed time, the charge should be dropped right then and there, without the citizen having to make a second appearance to defend himself.  In fact, the judge should give the citizen a nice and valid get out of jail free card, a free pass to hand to the cop in case such a thing ever happens again.   

Larry Cloud
Lookout Valley


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