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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Default Trial Without a Prosecutor

    My question involves a speeding ticket from the State of: South Carolina

    I was surprised that my bench trial did not have a prosecutor. There was only the judge, the witness (police officer), and the defense (me). I quickly googled on my iPhone before the trial and found this website:

    It says, among other things, that:

    "A trial where there is no prosecutor is unconstitutional. Nonetheless more and more municipalities and States are opting for it in a speeding ticket trial."

    Knowing this, I said to the judge:

    "Your Honor, I notice the absence of a prosecutor to present the peoples case. Will you be acting as prosecutor on behalf of the people?”
    To which the judge replied:

    "No, the officer will serve as the prosecutor."

    I replied with:

    “Although the officer is also an officer of the court he is not licensed or certified by this State to practice law or act in the capacity of a prosecutor. Acting as both prosecutor and witness he can not examine himself on the stand. Defendant motions for Dismissal.”

    To which the judge denied my motion for dismissal and began the trial.

    The judge began the trial by asking the witness/prosecutor/officer to describe the events that happened that day.

    ^Isn't it the prosecutor's job to question the witness? The judge was practicing law from the bench by asking the witness questions!?

    The officer decided to play a videotape of the incident that he obtained from his sqaudcar. The video only showed us slowly pulling over to the side of the road and sitting there for 15 minutes (it didn't show me allegedly speeding). I objected to the video on the grounds of relevancy (we were literally watching my car sitting on the side of the road for 15 minutes). My objection was noted, but we continued to watch the video until the officer stopped it with the remote.

    ^Did the officer have the right to introduce that evidence? Isn't that supposed to be the prosecutor's job?

    Multiple times throughout the trial, when I was questioning the witness, he objected to answering my questions. I brought up the fact that he wasn't technically the prosecutor so therefore he couldn't object to my questions, but the judge said that he was indeed serving in the dual-capacity of witness and prosecutor and that he did have the right to object to my questions! Moreover, the judge objected to/interrupted some of my questions (as if the judge was the prosecutor!).


    I was found guilty. I said to the judge that I wanted to appeal, and the judge replied by telling me that I must pay the fine today and send in a written notice of appeal within 10 days.

    What should I do?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Trial Without a Prosecutor

    I hate to burst your bubble, but not everything you read on the Internet is true.

    Most states issue traffic tickets as civil infractions and, particularly if you have not requested otherwise, will schedule informal hearings at which no prosecutor is present. Often the person who received the ticket has the option of requesting a formal hearing with a prosecutor, and typically the driver can appeal from the informal hearing to a formal hearing for a "trial de novo" if they don't like the outcome.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: Trial Without a Prosecutor

    In ca, traffic tickets are criminal, not civil.

    You should file a notice of appeal asap. Your judge was an idiot.

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