Thursday, February 05, 2009

Interesting timing there...

There's already a widely-supported move in the state lege to ban photo radar-based traffic tickets on Arizona's highways (HB2106). Given that the measure has support from legislators from across the political spectrum (progressive Democrat Ed Ableser and conservative hero-du-jour Republican Sam Crump are two of the primary sponsors of the bill), it stands a good chance of passing.

So how what are the Justice Courts in Coconino County going to do?

Spit on the basic principle of American jurisprudence - Innocent Until Proven Guilty.

From the AZ Daily Sun -
Drivers busted by photo-enforcement cameras posted along state highways in Coconino County will soon be charged an extra $20 when challenging or ignoring the speeding tickets they receive. The Coconino County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in January to allow the Coconino County Justice Courts to charge $20 extra for photo speeding tickets, to cover the costs of processing them.

The Arizona Legislature enacted laws last year establishing a statewide photo enforcement system that sends ticket revenues to the state, including to an election fund, but lawmakers allocated no money to county court administrators do the related administrative work to process the citations, said Joy Dillehay, deputy court administrator for Coconino County Justice Courts.
Leaving aside the tactical considerations/stupidity for the moment (why do something this certain to tick off the constituents of the legislators considering the repeal), what about the *Constitutional* considerations???

It strikes me, and judging from the comments on the linked article, it strikes many other people too, that this policy amounts to nothing more than the courts saying "it doesn't matter to us if you are innocent or guilty or if the ticket is justified or not, once the citation is issued, you *will* be punished. And if you exercise your rights to contest the charges against you, you will be punished more."

I am not entirely unsympathetic to the plight of the county justice courts - they were screwed over by the lege in its quest to rake in revenue. It was wrong to increase the costs to county courts (increase tickets to process) while not ensuring a revenue stream to cover those costs. If the state want increased revenue, they should bear the costs of it, not foist those costs off on to the already fiscally ailing counties.

However, responding by shredding the Constitution and centuries of legal principle is worse.

Far worse.

Of course, the tactics here suck, too. The timing of this announcement couldn't have been much worse as this will only serve to inflame voters at a time when the lege is considering HB2106, increasing the likelihood that photo radar will be banned...reducing the revenue stream from those tickets to the counties...Oh wait...that revenue stream doesn't exist...hmmmm.

Let's do some math here...Increased workload without increased revenue + upset voters + emboldened legislators - banned photo radar (and with it, the increased workload)...hmmm...

On the timing issue, never mind.

It's borderline brilliant.



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