Parking ticket trial backlogs are a gift to serial offenders
Here’s a happy secret, but keep it under your hat: The city is again letting off people who file for court dates on parking tickets.
They’ll never admit it, but court services officials figured out years ago that it’s cheaper to not issue court dates for some tickets – usually simple overtime parking, a $30 fine – than go to the trouble and
expense of holding a trial.
The Star reported today on a guy who’s been waiting eight years for his day in court to fight a parking ticket, as well as a growing backlog of trial applications for which court dates have yet to be issued.
About 350,000 people requested court dates last year – an incredible number, considering that each is entitled to a trial with a justice of the peace and a prosecutor - but 74,000 have yet to be sent a date for trial.
It’s no different than in 2009, when we reported on private investigator Derrick Snowdy’s habit of accumulating lots of overtime parking tickets, then filing for court dates he knew would never arrive.
At the time, court services attributed an even bigger backlog to a lack of court space and resources, but said that new courtrooms were being built to help clear the backlog.
To prove its point, they began issuing me court dates for upwards of a dozen tickets that I fought, as well as a bunch for Snowdy, as if to prove the point that everyone would get their day in court, even if they didn’t particularly want it.
I ended up paying a lot of tickets that I thought I had dodged, and figured that was the end of it until Snowdy called me and pointed out the story on the eight-year-old ticket, and the growing backlog.
It seems that court services is slipping into old habits, and not just because demand for court space exceeds supply. When the majority of tickets are issued for overtime parking and the city will net only $30 if the defendant is convicted, the costs far outstrip the benefit.
It’s better to send people an acknowledgement that their request for trial has been received, but never follow through with a court date.
You know, just let it die. Who’s going to complain if a conviction is never registered against them?
So that’s the scam. You can take it to the bank, or to court. But that’s unlikely.