No justice in traffic

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    I wanted to publicly express my disappointment with the Traffic Court system located at 5030 N. Pkwy. in Calabasas. I am sure many residents of Malibu have likewise experienced the futility of going to court to plead their innocence or mitigating circumstances in front of either Commissioners Mcintosh or Goetz.

    Having a day off recently, I went to the Calabasas Court to see if anyone presents enough evidence clearing them of their traffic infractions, and maybe pick up a few pointers. I observed approximately 15 people who believed in their innocence enough to forego the tempting “bribe” known as traffic school and argue their cases.

    Predictably, however, everyone lost.

    Realistically, how could anyone hope to win? After all, the commissioner obviously knows the officers, evidenced by their friendly greetings before the officers are sworn in to testify. And then the commissioner proceeds as prosecutor, judge and jury. So much for checks and balances. Nevertheless, below are summaries of some of the cases I thought merited dismissal:

    In one case, a man pulled out of a Burger King parking lot and made a left turn. As it turns out, 100 feet up the road from Burger King was a “no left turn” sign. The man had no reasonable means to see that sign because all he could see was the backside of it, 100 feet away! Commissioner Mcintosh, however, still ruled against him stating that the state met its burden under the Vehicle Code. Guilty.

    In another case, the 101 Freeway was shut down at night because a tanker truck had flipped over, so the police were directing everyone off the freeway and on to an alternate route circumventing the accident. The defendant was in the middle of a line of 16 cars cited by an officer for driving on the shoulder of the freeway. The defendant testified he thought the police up ahead had directed a second lane of traffic on the shoulder to help facilitate traffic off the freeway and he was merely following the other cars. That seems reasonable. Personally, I thought it would be alright to issue a ticket to the first few cars illegally driving on the shoulder, but not some poor guy in middle of the pack. But Commissioner Mcintosh simply read the pertinent Vehicle Code Section that stated it is illegal to drive on the shoulder of the freeway. Guilty.

    I particularly enjoyed the individual who claimed the officer’s radar gun tracked another vehicle. The commissioner responded, “Radar is never wrong.” Guilty. Did the commissioner go to law school to divine that brilliant legal analysis?

    Is it too unrealistic to expect a judge to listen to the particular facts of a case, take into consideration extenuating circumstances, reasonable explanations and so on, and then make a reasonable ruling without lazily flipping to the appropriate code section and making a ruling completely devoid of everything the defendant just testified to? Unfortunately the commissioners at the Calabasas Court seem to be nothing more than automatons who unfairly and unjustly shirk their judicial responsibilities, failing to provide a meaningful forum for defendants to be heard and, in fact, merely recite abstract code sections while turning a deaf ear to every defense presented.

    No one has to take my word for it — take an afternoon off and check it out for yourselves.

    Dale Reicheneder