This is absurd

The facts of this case are atrocious. What the hell is wrong with Houston County?

In Harrell’s case, she was ticketed for speeding along Interstate 75 in Houston County and opted to contest the $162 ticket, according to the case summary. However, when she arrived at State Court for her court date, she learned that anyone pleading guilty to a traffic violation had to post a bond twice the amount of the ticket, the summary said.

She decided to pay the fine, the judge accepted the plea and imposed a 12-month suspended sentence, which would end once she paid the fine, the summary said.

She was required to complete paperwork for the private probation company and told she would also have to pay a $25 supervision fee to the probation company, according to the summary. She left the courthouse, withdrew cash from an ATM, returned and was taken by a Sentinel employee to the clerk’s office where she paid the $162 fine. She was not asked to pay the $25 service fee, the summary stated.

But a warrant was later issued for her arrest after a Sentinel probation officer received a report that she failed to make the $187 payment. Harrell was arrested at her Clayton County home in July 2005, jailed over the weekend in Clayton County and then transported to Houston County, Pearson said.

Harrell was released from jail and all charges were dropped once Houston County received a faxed receipt showing she had paid the fine, according to the summary.

The lady sued and the Fulton County State Court denied her the right to a trial by jury. The mass arraignments in traffic court are bad enough, but then to arrest her for failure to pay when she had in fact paid is disgusting.

22 comments

  1. polisavvy says:

    This is totally absurd. I am trying to figure out how a Fulton County State Court judge would be involved in a case where the offense happened in Houston County and the arrest happened in Clayton County, as well as the incarceration in Clayton County. The article didn’t elaborate on this. Any ideas?

    • Erick says:

      My guess is that it has to do with the constitutional issues raised creating a venue in Fulton County as the seat of state government.

    • Republican Lady says:

      Polisavvy,

      Sorry this is a little long, but here goes. Arrest warrants can be served anywhere. Once a warrant pops up on the police computer, the officer is supposed to verify the warrant and ask if the agency holding the warrant will come get the person before an arrest is made. If Houston County said the warrant was valid and that they would come get her, then Clayton would hold her in their facility until Houston comes to get her, usually within 72 hours.

      She lost her right to a “trial by jury” when she accepted the terms of the court. In order to have gotten the jury trial, which is her right under the Sixth Amendment, she would have had to pay the double fine to have her case put on the trial calendar. Most all courts charge some bond to be posted to ensure a court appearance.

      Clayton County had a problem approximately two years ago when it was discovered their radar officers had not been recertified to run radar. An alleged speeder asked to see the calibration and proof of an officer’s legal stance to use the radar equipment. When it came out he was not qualified to write the ticket, then all speeding tickets written for the previous eighteen months were declared invalid and as I recall, the monies had to be returned to the citizens receiving the tickets and the points removed from their drivers’ licenses. I don’t know what happened to the higher insurance premiums paid because of the speeding ticket.

      Another problem is some officers writing tickets for offenses that are no longer valid or without studying the code. For example, there are times when turning left on red is legal but officers still write that ticket and it gets thrown out in court. People always need to check out the traffic code under which the citation is written before paying fines.

        • ByteMe says:

          When you are not crossing traffic to do that… which means you’re on a one-way street and turning onto a one-way street that is moving right to left as you face it. Limited, of course, by any signs telling you you cannot do that.

          • griftdrift says:

            U-turns is another good. They are legally anywhere unless a signs says you can’t. But they have to be done in a safe manner. Which gives johnny law a little wiggle room to right you a ticket.

          • Doug Deal says:

            This is not true, only in non city parts of the state. For example, in Macon, all U-Turns are illegal by city ordinance except on streets with an island in the middle.

          • Republican Lady says:

            You are correct. If one is on a one-way street in the far left lane, that person can turn left on red onto a second street also going one way to the driver’s left. Sorry I was not clearer.

  2. Doug Deal says:

    It’s not just Houston county. It’s what happens when the people allow the government to raise money with the court system, via traffic citations. There is little profit in “justice”.

    • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

      Government is addicted to the money no doubt. Never mind the Super Speeder bill, have you seen the amount of court fees tacked on to traffic citations. You pay them even if you win. I know a lot of those fees predate the Republicans rise to power, but they’ve done nothing, except for a study committee, to repeal any. Why do we keep kidding ourselves that Republicans are fiscal conservatives?

      • Doug Deal says:

        If I were King For A Day™ I would earmark every dollar collected in fees and fines in excess of enforcement to victim services and indigent defense. This would include paying restitution, which the state would then collect out of the hide of the perpetrator with its police power.

        No money would go to the general fund of any government agency anywhere in the state.

        If there is a compelling state reason to prosecute traffic offences, there is a compelling reason to do it without profit.

  3. Silent Jay says:

    You know, Clayton probably has 10,000 back warrants of their own to serve. How did a nothing traffic warrant from another county go to the head of the class?

  4. benevolus says:

    If you gotta post 2x bond when you plead guilty, I’d hate to see what you have to pay when you plead not guilty! 🙂

  5. Dave Bearse says:

    Is Sentinel, as private probation company and the source of the Clayton arrest, covered by sovereign immunity? If not, perhaps she’s in for a payday.

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