Philadelphia appears to be defying a court order to require the most minimal due process protection for drivers in parking violation cases. Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker issued an order weeks ago that drivers were entitled to some basic protections in ticking such as the right to know where the violation allegedly occurred and to have the right to question the ticket givers. City officials however have declared the protections to be simply not “practical” and appear to be ignoring it according to a columnist. The decision is an important victory for citizens who are often clipped by cities as a source of additional revenue through parking tickets.
Tucker ruled that ticket writers had to sign the tickets and state the exact location where the law was violated. The court also said that drivers should be able to cross examine the ticket givers and have a written ruling in contested cases.
Cities often impose a system that violated core guarantees of due process. I once challenged a ticket in New Orleans where I was ticketed for blocking my own driveway. When I tried to explain to the court that that was not possible under the city law (since I was the protected class), I was cut off and said that it was a “strict liability offense.” When I tried to explain that that made no sense and that the law clearly prohibits others from blocking my driveway, I was told that I could appeal the ruling in the same court room — in front of the same judge.
City Solicitor Shelley Smith appears to simply have ignored the order after failing in a motion for reconsideration. No appeal was taken but the city is still not complying according to the column below.
Smith’s view of the impracticality of giving basic rights to drivers is a rather curious position to take in the face of an unappealed order. You are not required to follow only “practical” orders in our system of law. Cities have created systems that offer little protection or due process for drivers. That lack of rights certainly moves things along and generates considerable money for the city. However, it appears that one judge would like to see a modicum of due process in a court system even if it is only traffic court.
It will be interesting to watch to the response of the court to the inaction of the city. The most obvious response (if a daily running fine is not used) would be to negate tickets based on the failure to guarantee these elements.
What do you think?