Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Traffic Fines Bill Clears Another Hurdle

Senate Bill 399, which would limit a judge's discretion to increase traffic court fines to punish defendants for challenging their ticket, cleared another committee hurdle today passing the Senate Appropriations Committee by a 11-0 margin.

The bill, authored by R. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis), is aimed squarely at the practices of the Marion County Traffic court. The bill has picked up numerous co-authors from both sides of the aisle, including several Indianapolis-area Senators who have heard from angry constituents.

To recap the procedural history of the bill, it passed the State Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee last week ago by a margin of 10-1. It was recommitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee because the bill might have a fiscal impact. The members of the Senate Appropriations Committee today didn't seem to care if the bill might cost have some lost revenue - they were clearly in the mood to stop the practice of maxing out fines as punishment for individuals seeking their day in court.

Next step is the floor of the Senate where the bill can be amended, and then the final vote on the bill. If SB 399 passes the Senate, it then moves to the House where it is assigned to a committee and the process begins anew.


Cato said...

How about a House Resolution publicly denouncing Judge Young?

And while I'm on the subject, how about a bill bringing lawyer licensing under the legislature, just like private investigators, C.P.A.s, and the other State-regulated licenses?

Letting the Supreme Court regulate lawyers and judges has always been constitutionally inexplicable, and it has become a way to allow the judiciary to impose de facto boundaries on zealous advocacy and permissible arguments through tyrannical "disciplinary" opinions.

Lawyers are being completely denied due process and constitutional protections under this closed-loop and unreviewable scheme. If there is a valid complaint against a lawyer, there is no reason it cannot be heard in an AOPA proceeding, with full due process afforded to the respondent.

Everyone would be better served by this profession being regulated by a detached and indifferent Professional Occupations Office.

Additionally, judges absolutely must be stripped of any ability to impose confinement through a contempt order. In a free country, imprisonment must only be imposed pursuant to due process of law and a fully proven case, not out of an emotional reaction of an unintelligent tax-feeder with a finger on the scale and grander professional aspirations riding on each case.

The judicial branch was never intended to be an equal with the real branches, and it dreamt up judicial review for itself. The power they've stolen is tantamount to a coup. Our country and state are now run by unchecked autocrats over whom no branch has veto power and about which no lawyer can exercise stinging criticism, for fear of retribution.

We must get this branch in line if we have any hope of becoming free again.

Paul K. Ogden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul K. Ogden said...


I've always said that it is not a good idea for a profession to regulate itself. There has to be a check of some sort.

Actually the contempt powers of a judge do require due process. There are two kinds of contempt - direct and indirect - if I remember my contempts right from when I clerked at the Court of Appeals. Direct contempt is interference with a court proceeding, such as someone yelling out during a hearing. In a direct contempt situation the judge can put the person in jail briefly to deal with the disruption.

The indirect criminal contempt though is the violation of a court order of some sort. There are due process protections for this including a hearing, right to counsel, etc.

Unforuntately many judges don't know the difference between the two types of contempt and the due process that is requried.