Posts Tagged ‘petty fines and fees’

“They confessed to minor crimes. Then City Hall billed them $122K in ‘prosecution fees'”

“In Indio and Coachella, prosecutors take property owners to court for some of the smallest crimes, then bill them thousands and threaten to take their homes if they don’t pay.” [Brett Kelman, The Desert Sun, California, via Dan Mitchell who besides citing this story, and my writing on the new Philadelphia bulletproof glass law, relates local government ticketing sprees arising from Chicago window sign rules and Los Angeles pedestrian laws] The Institute for Justice [press release] has now filed a lawsuit challenging the Indio/Coachella practices. [Kelman, Desert Sun]

Crime and punishment roundup

  • Citation nation: abuse of fees and fines erodes legitimacy and accountability in local government [C. Jarrett Dieterle, City Journal]
  • If concept of obstruction of justice is not to do injustice itself, it must be confined to a limited number of well-defined offenses [Tim Lynch, Cato]
  • “Drug recognition experts” deployed at traffic stops have a reliability problem, and that can put innocent people behind bars [11Alive Atlanta, Ed Krayewski] Zero-tolerance THC: Unimpaired driver gets six months for fatal crash she did not cause [Jacob Sullum]
  • New York Senate approves bill to make police protected group for purposes of hate crime law; similar proposals have become law in Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi [Tim Cushing/TechDirt, earlier here and here]
  • Now renamed “trafficking”: “Why Governments Always Exaggerate the Prostitution Threat” [Camilo Gómez, FEE, related Libertarianism.org podcast with Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
  • Some problems with requiring “racial impact statements” for new bills on criminal justice [Roger Clegg and Hans von Spakovsky, NRO, James Scanlan, Federalist Society blog]

October 19 roundup

  • “Nobody wanted to vote ‘against’ 9/11 families in an election year.” Which led to a series of absurd consequences when Congress took up Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA [Lowering the Bar, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • Cute: animal rights group ambushes Orthodox with legal action on eve of Yom Kippur [Scott Greenfield citing Josh Blackman account]
  • “Can U.S. Presidents Much Affect the U.S. Economy?” If so, it might be through regulatory burdens [David Henderson]
  • Suit had much publicity but nearer to zero merit: Connecticut judge dismisses suit against gun manufacturer over Sandy Hook school shooting, citing PLCAA (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) [Hartford Courant]
  • Did spate of violation-finding against local property owner proceed from retaliatory motives? “Councilman Says California City Used Code Enforcement as Payback” [Lompoc, Calif.; Matt Powers, Institute for Justice]
  • Local man discusses third parties’ role in the national election [Frederick News-Post podcast, 37:09, I’m interviewed by reporters Danielle Gaines and Jeremy Bauer-Wolf; related article]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • Mississippi AG Jim Hood, a longtime Overlawyered fave, finds way to snipe at opposing death penalty counsel [Radley Balko]
  • Police use forced catheterization to obtain urine samples from unwilling suspects. A constitutional issue? [Argus-Leader, South Dakota]
  • “Why Gary Johnson Opposes Hate-Crime Laws (and You Should Too)” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
  • Yes, the Baltimore aerial surveillance program should raise concerns [Matthew Feeney, Cato]
  • “The Citizen as ATM: A small Missouri city has become a legal testing ground for ticketing practices and court reform” [Carla Main, City Journal]
  • New Mexico, a leader on asset forfeiture reform, should now tackle mens rea reform [Paul Gessing]

Police and community roundup

Crime and punishment roundup

  • Judges generally aren’t supposed to jail defendants over petty fines and fees they’re unable to pay, but many do anyway. How one Texas judge resists [Ed Spillane, Washington Post]
  • Maryland legislature passes amended version of asset forfeiture bill I spoke favorably of at Annapolis press event in January [Tenth Amendment Center, background]
  • Child services hair-sample forensics: “This Canadian Lab Spent 20 Years Ruining Lives” [Tess Owen, Vice]
  • Cato’s 1995 Handbook for Congress urged repeal of Clinton crime bill, but Congress didn’t listen [Tim Lynch, Newsweek and more]
  • “The main thing going through my head was, ‘I’m never going to get a job again.’” Public shaming as punishment [Suzy Khimm, The New Republic]
  • Judge Alex Kozinski publicly names prosecutors in Washington state he thinks may have violated a defendant’s rights [Matt Ferner, HuffPo]

“The case against mandatory seat-belt laws”

The federal seat-belt-law mandate was the result of a 1980s deal between Reagan-era Transportation secretary Elizabeth Dole (proof, long before Mayor Bloomberg, that nanny-state tendencies transcend partisan labels) and Detroit automakers, who calculated that regulating their customers would help stave off regulating their own design decisions. And now? Less individual liberty, more scope for police discretion, and in some states a taste for revenue: “In California, a single seat-belt violation can be as much as $490.” [Radley Balko] Earlier on mandatory seat belt usage laws here, here (“saturation detail” police stops), here, etc. (“doggie seat belt” laws), here (Germany: Pope in Popemobile), here, and here (England: Santa’s sleigh), among others.

“New York Is A City Of No”

Gothamist on why the Robicelli bakery of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, has decided to move to Baltimore, worn down by hassles with New York labor laws, utilities, rents, alternate side of the street parking enforcement, and more:

The culture of fining small businesses and attaching expensive requirements for permitting and other work can make owners feel as though they’re ATMs for the city, from what some call excessive policing of restaurants by the DOH to the installation of a hand sink that cost the couple $10,000 after acquiring and hiring the necessary permits and persons to get the work done up to city code. “If you see some guy having an ice cream cart in front of his shop? Huge permit! Outdoor seating? Huge permit! If you decide you just want to have a bench in front of your store but somebody decides to pull it out a little bit so it’s a little bit over 18-inches off the front? Fine! Massive fine!” …

“New York now is a city of no. You have this great idea? No, you can’t do it. You want to try this out? No. You go to Baltimore and it’s a city of, ‘Well why the f— not? Let’s try this!’ They really, really love their city and it’s exciting. It’s that energy I felt when I was growing up in New York.

St. Louis suburb runs town hall on ticket money. Is that illegal?

We’ve reported many times on the syndrome of towns outside St. Louis which, often lacking another promising tax base for municipal services, run ticket mills so as to get by on fine and fee revenue. Missouri law limits the share of their budget that can be derived from traffic fines, but not other fines, which means that some towns like Pagedale hammer their homeowners and other locals with regular fines over untrimmed trees, barbecue sets left in front yards, and other minor offenses. But is this illegal? An Institute for Justice lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of persons fined for violations as minor as mismatched blinds. [Scott Shackford, Reason]