Thursday, March 11, 2010

Traffic Court Bill Heading to the Governor

The Traffic Court bill cleared the final legislative hurdle yesterday when the compromise version of the bill was approved yesterday by the Indiana House by a 98-0 margin. It is now on the way to the Governor's desk.

A few weeks ago, I ran across a letter from a northern Indiana judge complaining that the bill takes away the discretion from a judge. He mentioned that he sometimes only fines the person a few dollars depending on the case.

The bill doesn't take away discretion. Rather it caps discretion and prevents judges from punishing a motorist by fining him or her an additional sum because that person dared ask for a trial on their speeding ticket.

It's the same old story...whether it is a police officer or a judge - that person always want maximum "discretion" to do whatever they think is appropriate in doing their job. Just give us a blank check, it is argued, and that discretion will be used wisely. As was seen with the Marion County Traffic Court, where fines were upped across the board for people who challenged their tickets, that was not the case.

I'm reminded a bit of the City-County Council debate on the panhandling bill. It was pointed out that the then current panhandling ordinance wasn't being enforced. Councilor Ben Hunter argued though we should give even more discretion to police officers by giving them the additional "tool" of arresting panhandlers within 50 feet of an intersection. The other day, while walking to the City-County Building, I noted panhandlers at three of the four corners of the intersection of Delaware and Market, right next to the City-County Building which houses the city police.

That's why I roll my eyes when people start talking about the need for "discretion" in enforcing the law.


Marycatherine Barton said...

Wow, 98-0 -- that traffic court bill is so popular, surely Governor Daniels will sign it. As far as the popularity of the traffic court judge in Marion County, in the last Superior Court Judges election, '08, Young received the least amount of votes. Cross your fingers that the governor will allow our popularly elected representatives to take away so much discretion from the traffic court judges, especially ours.

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