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People can fight traffic tickets without paying fine first, Judicial Council says

Amid rising public clamor over drivers losing their licenses because of unpaid traffic tickets, the leaders of California’s court system voted unanimously Monday to end requirements that people pay the fines before being allowed to challenge them.
The new rule does not give relief to drivers who already have failed to attend their first court appearance because they couldn’t afford to pay or didn’t get a courtesy notice.
They will still have to bear the full cost of the violation before being allowed to challenge it. “Virtually every county in the state has been requiring full bail payment to contest a failure to appear,” said Michael Herald, legislative advocate for the Western Center on Law & Poverty, “and today’s rule does not help those clients overcome those problems.”

Read the full story at the LA Times

Readers outraged by L.A.’s pedestrian ticket ‘muggings’

“Judges have the discretion under state law to reduce the bail amount if they believe the person is indigent,” said attorney Mike Herald of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “Unfortunately most clients don’t know how to plead this in court.”

Herald said the courts get a sizable chunk of the money collected from citations, “so there’s an incentive on the judges to be tax collectors, which kind of warps their role.”

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times

Not Just a Ferguson Problem- How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California

Low-income Californians are being disproportionately impacted by state laws and procedures related to driver’s license suspensions. Due to increased fines and fees and reduced access to courts, more than four million Californians have suspended drivers licenses. These suspensions make it harder for people to get and keep jobs, harm credit ratings and raise public safety concerns. Ultimately they keep people in long cycles of poverty that are difficult if not impossible for many to overcome. This report highlights the impacts on families, how the problem happens and what can and should be done to rectify it.

Read the full report here

CA Agency Restricts Access to Critical Aid for Domestic Violence Survivors and Their Children

Velma M. was pregnant, homeless, and on the run with her four children. It had taken all the courage she had to end the nightmare of abuse she had ensured at the hand of her former partner. But now Velma was experiencing another kind of nightmare- living in a car with her children and staying up all night to protect them. She had escaped the violence, but her family was more vulnerable than ever.

Read more here