Ca’s CJ Pushes for Expedited Rule to Address Traffic Fine Proceedings

In her report to the Judicial Council on Apr 17, 2015 (see video here) Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye announced that she is asking the Judicial Council to take emergency action to adopt a rule of court to facilitate access to justice for court users challenging traffic fines. “Many of the procedures and practices regarding traffic fines derive from statute,” the Chief Justice said. “However, the law is confusing and may result in inconsistent practices or policies throughout the state. I’m charging the Judicial Council as the constitutional statewide policymaking body to expeditiously initiate our rule-making process to act on an emergency basis. We need a court rule that makes it clear that Californians do not have to pay for a traffic infraction before being able to appear in court.... as I stated during our Judicial Council business meeting, the issue raised by fines and fees can be an access to justice issue, as well as a fiscal issue for the entire state. All branches are trying to address it.”

Drugged Driving Awareness: Beyond Campaign Slogans

Judge Mary Celeste (Ret.) recently penned an article for both the Traffic Resource Center and the ABA. She discusses the need for a combined effort of campaign slogans and direct public education programs. In essence, she believes that while popular campaigns like, Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk, create a sense of community awareness on the issue, additional efforts are needed to move beyond awareness on towards real public education on the issues.

Correction: Georgia Supreme Court case Williams v. State (2015)

The Judging Traffic Newsletter (JTN) admits an unfortunate error from the April edition concerning the analysis of Williams v. State. The JTN stated that the Supreme Court had thrown out Williams' conviction on the grounds of a 4th Amendment violation when in actual fact the Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court to consider the very question of whether the defendant gave "actual consent" to the procuring and testing of his blood. Our thanks go out to the astute reader who made us aware of our mistake.

Constitutionality of Twice-Daily Breath Testing

On April 27, 2015, the Montana Supreme Court heard oral arguments on State v. Spady.  Robert Spady was granted pretrial release on misdemeanor DUI and careless driving charges. Conditions of his release included that he undergo twice-daily breath testing under the 24/7 sobriety program. Spady was later charged with criminal contempt of court based on his failure to comply, on three occasions, with the breath testing requirement. The key issue is whether it is a Due Process violation to subject a defendant to daily alcohol testing as a condition of pre-trial release. The newsletter will provide the court ruling when it is made available.

Upcoming Courses at the National Judicial College

The following courses are offered by the NJC in Reno, Nevada in the coming months. A limited number of scholarships are available through generous funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Please contact Rebecca Bluemer at Bluemer@judges.org for more information.

Special Court Jurisdiction June 8-18, 2015. Reno, NV: Specifically designed for new judges without formal law school training, this course provides a comprehensive overview of a number of core principles a limited jurisdiction judge may face while on the bench including- learning to build and enhance the skills necessary to make appropriate evidentiary rulings; conduct criminal hearings and trials in compliance with constitutional and statutory standards; manage cases involving self-represented litigants; create an environment of fairness and impartiality in the courtroom; and much more. Read more.

Special Court Jurisdiction Advanced. June 8-18, 2015: This course is designed for special court judges who were recently appointed or elected, or judges who have completed the Special Court Jurisdiction Course. This course will provide a more in-depth analysis in all of the areas which are pertinent to a special court jurisdiction judge including: Case Flow Management, Court Security, Evidence Issues; Specialty Court Issues; and much more. For more information.

NCSC Traffic Resource Center

The Traffic Resource Center is a cooperative effort between the Department of Transportation and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to establish a resource for judges, court administrators, court clerks, and other court staff on issues related to traffic adjudication. It is an integrated clearinghouse of information as well as a training and technical assistance resource to improve court decision-making and processing of traffic cases involving impaired driving, drugged driving, distracted driving, and commercial driving. The purpose of the Traffic Resource Center website is to provide a useful, ready reference for judges new to the bench or recently assigned to traffic cases, who may need quick access to accurate and timely information until they can receive more formal, structured education.

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