My darling wife was pulled over a couple of months back for driving in the evening with a single working headlight. The ticket was just and well executed by a very professional young California Highway Patrolman. She brought the car home and I fixed the headlight immediately. We took the car to the Folsom Police Department to have the correction verified, and they did so, signing off the ticket.
Here is where the story takes a turn for the worse.
One week subsequent to the issuance of the ticket, I called the Carol Miller Justice Center in Sacramento, California to get information about paying the administrative fees, and they had no record of the infraction because "it [was] too soon after the issuance of the ticket for it to be in [their] system." They recommended that we mail the ticket in with a check for the amount owed. This option did not appeal to me or my wife, as the bureaucracy of the state court system makes the administration of Dante's Pandemonium seem smooth and simple to navigate. Another week went by, and we made the trek to the courthouse a second time to pay the fine that now goes with a "fix-it" ticket, and we were told for the second time that the ticket was not yet in their system.
So we waited. Eventually, about six weeks after the initial ticket, my wife received in the mail a notice that gave her the payment options. And we forgot about it. The day after the cutoff date, the courts were well enough organized to get an arrest warrant issued for my dear wife and get it delivered. Now we were responsible for the $25 administrative fee for the fix-it ticket plus a $500 + fine for failing to appear in court. We immediately scheduled a back-up court date, nullifying the warrant, and, today, we went to court.
The judge, whose name I do not recall at this time, was a wind-up, cymbal-banging monkey of a figure. Jennifer, my wife and the criminal in this case, went forth when summoned and explained what had happened. Out of the graciousness of his moronic heart, hizzonner reduced the failure-to-appear to $150, reprimanding my wife, explaining that we not only had to get it fixed but we had to report it before the requirement was fulfilled. Jennifer, being the wise and gracious gal that she is, said, "Thank you," and moved on.
I, however, am nonplussed. I grant that we should have attended to the ticked in a timelier manner, but why should we have to pay 2¢ for a failure-to-appear when we appeared at the courthouse twice to address this ticket? If any office in the private sector were run like the Carol Miller Justice Center, it would be driven out of business. I am a long-time supporter of the privatization of the bulk of state functions, including just about everything except the military and the courts, but after today, I am seriously reconsidering the court system. A judge is due a great degree of respect because of his position, but he should show a glimmer of intellect to ascend that position, and he should have a sense of what justice actually is in order to execute that role. Even in the case of traffic court, where there is no ethical or moral decree involved, merely the rules of the road, there is still a sense of justice and its execution, and the particular monkey that we drew had no idea about that. His function is, quite obviously, to raise revenues to keep his foolish little court running and to attempt to pay off the pit of debt that the People's Republic of California has racked up over the past few decades.