Friday, December 11, 2009

Turley Sympathetic Towards Traffic Court Lawsuit

Fellow blogger and attorney Paul Ogden has found a sympathetic ear from respected constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley towards the class action lawsuit he recently filed against the Marion County Traffic Court. Turley writes of Ogden's suit:

There is an interesting story out of Indianapolis, Indiana where attorney Paul K. Ogden has sued the city over the imposition of fines against any citizen who dares to challenge a traffic ticket. Ogden says that the city is charging as much as $2500 if citizens do not just fork over the dough with a ticket.

The city has allegedly made its purpose clear that it wants to raise money by charging for justice. In a press release, the city announced a deal between Indianapolis and a private firm, T2 Systems:

“Using Six Sigma process improvement strategies, it is estimated that under this program the city may collect an additional $352,000 to $520,000 in parking citation revenue over the next 12 months,” the city press release stated. “If citations are not paid prior to their scheduled hearing, the city may request a fine of up to $2500 per citation. Upon receiving a judgment for an unpaid citation, individuals responsible could be subject to collections actions or having their vehicle registration suspended.”

He represents motorists like Toshinao Ishii who received a ticket for driving 63 MPH in a 55 zone in February. The ticket was only $150 but when he lost in court, the judge ordered him to pay $550. That is a pretty steep price for seeking judicial review. It is an outrageous practice that runs against the very foundation of the rule of law: the right to seek independent review of one’s case.


Downtown Indy said...

I find it fascinating how the city likes to drop 'six sigma' into it's press releases.

Ok, MAYBE that can be legitimately applied to filling potholes (how hard is it really to improve the process for filling potholes, after all?)

But what defect-elimination, process improvement and stablization of results are they acheiving with parking tickets?

Seems like perhaps they found a buzzword that they like and which sounds mysterious and powerful to those unfamiliar with it.

But if they are coercing more people to just pay the fine, keeping the public out of the courtroom and intimidating people who may have a genuine need to step out momentarily to use the restroom - well, they might just be 'stablizing the process' and 'eliminating defects' (if they consider having a fair hearing or a not guilty verdict a 'defect').

Indy Student said...

I discovered Jonathan Turley through AI and now it is a daily read. Thanks for introducing me to him.

Erich said...

Can't argue with a Six Sigma traffic ticket.

Indy4U2C said...

Looking around the country, $550.00 is right in the normal speeding ticket range for most courts in major Metropolitan areas.

A parking ticket and tow in Chicago & New York will cost the same, too!

That said: If you commit the violation, expect to pay the price. It's about time someone issued fines commesurate with the violation.

Penalties are the discretion of the judge within the limits of the law. Everyone knows that before trial.

Indy Student said...

Once again, indy4u2c completely misses the entire point of the lawsuit. He focuses on "do the crime pay the fine" but ignores the unconstitutional practices of the closed court, the inhumane practice of keeping litigants in the court room while officers are free to come and go as they please (and even get called back when the case is ready), and the unconstitutional practice of excessive fines.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Indeed Indy4U2C misses the point. The tickets that are handed out are about $150. The judge is imposing an additional $300 or $400 penalty on people who ask for a trial. The added penalty is not for the speeding offense - the added $300 to $400 penalty is because the person asked for a trial. That's the problem. You can't punish someone like that for the exercise of a constitutional right.

I wonder what his excuse is for the court violating the constitution by excluding the public and locking the doors.

Indy4U2C said...

Paul: As was previously stated clearly, the court has a capacity. When capacity is reached nobody can be let inside. That is also true of public venues (Conseco Fieldhouse, local high school gym, favorite dance club).

IndyStudent: Get a grip on yourself...calling the court "inhumane"??? That's a new one for leftists, "we must have humane courts." Well, IndyStudent, to have a humane court I suggest that the 'humane court' enforce the capacity set by the fire marshal. As for 'unconstitutional fines,' the legislature gave the judges a range of penalties to apply for various offenses. The penalties this judge applies are within that range. IndyStudent, are you a drama major?

Indy4U2C said...


I do agree that the biggest county in Indiana should have several traffic courts. One cannot handle the volume of cases in a proper manner.

Indy Student said...

Once again, indy4u2c has completely missed the point.

As reported over at Ogden's blog, the court lets LEOs sign in and come and go at their pleasure but does not grant citizens the same. Not letting them leave even to go to the restroom is, at best, unfair and at worst inhumane. I specified that as an inhumane practice because people might need to step out to take medication or just get a short breath of fresh air...well, as fresh as that side of town gets. If citizens bringing their case to court get treated one way and LEOs treated another, well, I'd like to here you defend that.

And trying to call me a leftist is nothing short of laughable, and resorting to insults just shows you can't actually argue against the points being bought up.

The fine is what it is for breaking the speeding limit or whatever traffic ordinance it is. It should not be upped (beyond court costs) just because someone brings it to trial, and it certainly isn't something the judiciary should have the power to do. If LEO want to start ticketing at a higher rate, that's on their end and not for the courts to "correct." Yknow, seperation of powers and all that.