Thursday, June 4, 2015
Judicial Council to Consider New Court Rule on Contesting Traffic Tickets
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Judicial Council said yesterday it will consider a proposed rule next week that will allow most people accused of traffic infractions to contest the charges without prepayment of bail.
The council said in a release that the rule will be considered at a special open meeting held via teleconference on Monday. The meeting, which is set to begin at 8 a.m. will be audiocast live on the California Courts website, the release said.
“The rule was developed on an urgency basis at the request of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in response to recent concerns about court procedures for deposit of bail when defendants challenge infraction citations in court,” the release explained. “The council advisory bodies that developed the rule recommend it be made effective immediately.”
According to the draft, the rule would require courts to “allow a defendant to appear for arraignment and trial without deposit of bail,” except “when the defendant elects a statutory procedure that requires the deposit of bail;” “when the defendant does not sign a written promise to appear as required by the court;” or when the court “finds…that the defendant is unlikely to appear as ordered without a deposit of bail and the court expressly states the reasons for the finding.”
The proposal would also require that defendants be advised in written materials of their rights under the rule.
Because the rule is being considered on an expedited basis, the council said, any comments must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. tomorrow. Comments may be emailed to .
The chief justice said in a May 18 statement that she had asked for the expedited rule because “the issue raised by fines and fees can be an access to justice issue, as well as a fiscal issue for the entire state.” Many sources, including the federal Justice Department in its report on civil rights in Ferguson, Mo., have complained that the need to fund operations in tough economic times has made government overly dependent on fines for traffic and other lower-level offenses, leading to unfairness to individuals who may have a difficult time paying the charges.
Cantil-Sakauye noted that all three branches of California government have been considering the issue, and pointed to remarks she made at an April 17 council meeting, a clip of which can be found on the California Courts You Tube channel.
The council said in yesterday’s release:
“In addition to this new court rule being considered by the council, the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System, appointed by the Chief Justice, is taking a broader look at effective public access to California’s courts, including traffic proceedings and the impact of mandatory and discretionary fines, fees, and penalties on court users.”
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