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  1. #1
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    Default Washington Law and Contested Traffic Citations

    Hi Aaron,
    First, thank you for this forum. I'm sure it takes a significant amount of time to respond to all these posts, and I appreciate it.

    My question relates to due process: In Washington, state law allows local jurisdictions to schedule a "pre-trial conference" for contested traffic citations, but that it must be scheduled no more than 45 days after the Notice of Infraction is issued. My conference has been scheduled for 50 days out. Is that grounds for a dismissal?

    Here's a little more information. The same rule (Infraction Rules for courts of Limited Jurisdiction (IRLJ) 2.6) states that the Hearing, itself, must be scheduled for not more than 90 days from the date of the pre-trial conference, but if it is, the defendent must notify the prosecutor within 10 days of receiving the Hearing Notice, or waive the right to a speedy trial.

    Note that there is no requirement to notify the prosecutor concerning the date of the pre-trial conference. I know it's just a technicality, but doesn't the prosecution have to abide by the rules? :?:

    Thanks, in advance,
    Barry

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Question about Washington Law

    Quote Quoting blewis
    My question relates to due process: In Washington, state law allows local jurisdictions to schedule a "pre-trial conference" for contested traffic citations, but that it must be scheduled no more than 45 days after the Notice of Infraction is issued. My conference has been scheduled for 50 days out. Is that grounds for a dismissal?
    As you suggest, the rule provides in part as follows:
    Quote Quoting Rule 2.6(d)
    Objection to Hearing Date. A defendant who objects to the hearing date set by the court upon the ground that it is not within the time limits prescribed by this rule shall file with the court and serve upon the prosecuting authority a written motion for a speedy hearing date within 10 days after the notice of hearing is mailed or otherwise given to the defendant. Failure of a party, for any reason, to make such a motion shall be a waiver of the objection that a hearing commenced on such a date is not within the time limits prescribed by this rule. The written notice of the hearing date shall contain a copy of IRLJ 2.6(d).
    So if you wish to avail yourself of the time limit, you need to file your motion. Presumably the rationale for placing the onus on the defendant is that it is the court, not the prosecutor, which schedules the hearings, and the prosecutor has no "speedy trial" rights to protect.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Thanks for the quick reply. That's what I mean -- IRLJ 2.6(d) talks about the "Hearing" -- not the "Prehearing Conference". And doesn't inclusion of one specific item imply exclusion of others? Furthermore, I believe the prehearing conference is not much more than a meeting with the prosecutor -- presumably so he/she can offer a "deferred sentence" (pay $100, keep your nose clean for a year, and everything goes away). Of course, I may be wrong about that.

    Anyway, IRLJ 2.6(e) states that
    An infraction not brought to hearing within the time period provided by this rule shall, upon motion, be dismissed with prejudice
    Like 2.6(d), paragraph (e) refers to the "hearing", I guess I'm still wondering if you think violation of IRLJ 2.6(a)(1)(i) might also grounds for dismissal?

    Thanks,
    Barry

  4. #4
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    Default

    You will likely find that a court would express that, absent a similar provision, violating the prehearing conference deadline does not necessitate dismissal with prejudice. And I would anticipate that a court would also hold that, absent an objection of the type described in Rule 2.6(d), any violation is similarly waived.

  5. #5
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    That's about what I figured. But, it probably won't hurt to raise the issue anyway. I'll be curious to see exactly how the prosecutor objects.

    One more quick question, if you don't mind. Is the title of a statute part of the statute, or does the body of the statute stand on its own, without regard to the title?

    Thanks, again,
    Barry

  6. #6
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    Default Statute Titles

    Ordinarily, the title is not treated as part of the statute, but a court may view it as relevant or helpful (for example) if a portion of the statute is ambiguous, or as an indication of legislative intent.

  7. #7
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    Thanks, Aaron,
    Barry

  8. #8
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    Default Update

    Hi Aaron,
    Well, I had my hearing yesterday and moved for dismissal based on not having had my prehearing conference within the 45 day limit, as we discussed in the first part of this thread. The judge was ALMOST sympathetic. He stated that, indeed, IRLJ 2.6(a)(1)(i) requires the prehearing conference to be within 45 days of the infraction, that my conference was NOT within 45 days, and that the prosecutor failed to get my agreement in writing to the extension.

    However, he said that failure to comply with the rule did not warrant the remedy of dismissal. He said that if the hearing, itself, had been outside the 90 day limit, that would be a different story, but he didn't believe that missing the prehearing conference deadline warranted dismissal.

    I asked him what the remedy should be, but he just said "not dismissal." I asked him why he was ignoring a provision of IRLJ, which basically makes the rule moot. He said he wasn't ignoring it, just not granting a motion for dismissal based on it. I think he was implying that had I moved for something else, say, a reduction in the fine, or whatever, he may have considered it -- just "not dismissal."

    Oh well.... It might make for an interesting appeal -- I've found some interesting case law. One of the problems is that, in Washington, the prevailing party in an appeal of a traffic infraction does not recover costs, by statute. So it would cost me $110 to file, $40 for the tapes, plus the cost of transcribing -- they make it more than the fine for the infraction to dissuade appeals.

    Thought you'd like to know.

    Thanks for everything,
    Barry

  9. #9
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    Here's the final chapter in my story. I appealed the ruling in my case. I found a substantial amount of case law that pertains to procedural "due process", wrote a 15-page brief and submitted it to the Superior Court. My oral argument was scheduled for August 30.

    Today, the City Attorney called me and offered to dismiss the ticket, refund the fine, and expunge my record. I guess my appeal made them nervous -- or it just wasn't worth their time to fight it. Whichever it was, it was good enough for me.

    I had to eat the $150 in appeal fees, but I feel exonerated, plus I had loads of fun.

    Thanks, Aaron, for all the help, and thanks for the great forum.
    Barry

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Washington Law & Contested Traffic Citations

    I was told by the king county district east division(washington) court clerk that there is no pre-trial for traffic infractions. Is this not correct? Or are these pre-trials held on the court date itself before any trials start?

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