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A stand on principle

January 15, 2017

A law professor named Adam MacLeod writes about taking his camera-based traffic ticket to court. It’s an interesting read and not too long.

That Time I Turned a Routine Traffic Ticket into the Constitutional Trial of the Century

The traffic-camera ticket: like a parking ticket, it looks lawful enough. When they receive one, most people simply write the check. It seems like the sensible and law-abiding thing to do.

But this is not a parking ticket. In legal terms, it is not a proceeding in rem — against your car. It is a legal action against you personally. And before you pay the fine, you might want to hear my story.

My story is not legal advice. I offer it only to show how our ruling elites have corrupted the rule of law and to suggest why this matters for the American experiment in self-governance.

The Ticket

My story begins with a confession: I got a traffic-camera ticket. An affidavit signed by a Montgomery City police officer, it averred that I had committed a particular traffic violation on a certain date, at a certain time and location. It showed a photograph of one of our family vehicles. It charged me with a “civil violation” of “criminal law.”

I wasn’t driving the car. In fact, at the time I was in a faculty meeting at the law school where I teach. Thus, I decided to challenge this injustice on the principle of the thing.[…]

I wouldn’t take this as legal advice (as the author said). And I wouldn’t try it myself since I’m not a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer to fight one of these tickets is likely to be more expensive than simply paying the fine.

But there’s a lot to be said for standing on principal and holding municipal (and state) goverment’s feet to the fire.

H.T. Paul B

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