Brett Kavanaugh is lucky he didn’t get a red light camera ticket.
When you get one of these in the mail, you haven’t merely been accused. You’ve already been processed. There is a bureaucratic but threatening demand for money – right now – based on a declaration that you – the registered owner of the vehicle – are guilty of having run a red light. Or driving faster than the speed limit.
Even though it’s not been proved you were even driving.
Even though you never had an opportunity to defend yourself against the accusation.
You are, however, the registered owner of the car. This serves as proof you are the only person who could have been driving it when the alleged offense you’ve already been convicted of having committed occurred.
. . . unless you provide evidence that someone else was driving it when the offense occurred.
Put another way, the only way to establish your innocence is to provide proof of someone else’s guilt. You become the de facto assistant DA in your own prosecution.
Or rather, the transfer of prosecution.
The point being that someone always pays.
Another judge recently found out about the new legal doctrine of establishing innocence by transferring guilt.
The Judge was ordered to hand over $489 dollars because her 2007 Pontiac was photographed “running” a red light. “Running” in quotes because these cameras infamously snap pics – and trigger fines – based on the “running” of a yellow light. Yellows deliberately timed to turn red very quickly- in order to trap as many cars as possible “running” red lights.
What wasn’t shown was who was driving the judge’s car – which in pre-camera days would be a problem because of the burden on the prosecution to establish who committed the offense before convicting anyone of it.
A body is found in someone’s house. The fact that someone owns the house isn’t sufficient evidence to arrest them for murder – much less convict them – simply because a body was found in the house they happen to own.
The same principle used to apply to traffic laws as well. A cop couldn’t issue a ticket for red light running or speeding to the owner of the car, even if he saw the car run a light or exceed the speed limit.
It was necessary to pin the tail on the donkey.
And it wasn’t the obligation of the donkey to pin the tail on someone else.
The judge used these arguments in an attempt to get the ticket tossed.
Verra Mobility – backed by the state of California – demanded that the guilty incriminate himself.
The camera had taken a picture of someone behind the wheel of Judge Symons’ car when it “ran” the red light – but it wasn’t clear who that someone was.
Symons’ husband was able to produce irrefutable evidence that he wasn’t behind the wheel on the date (and time) the transgression occurred and so couldn’t have been the person in the picture. This eliminated him. But Verra Mobility demanded the judge take his place in the driver’s seat, so to speak.
In order to assure the DMV points got assigned appropriately.
The fine was never in question.
Judge Symons even got censured for having the gall to not play ball. When the California Commission on Judicial Performance got wind of Symons’ insistence on due process, it ordered her to contact Verra Mobility (previously American Traffic Solutions) and implicate herself.
“Judge Symons knowingly assisted her husband in filing the request for trial by written declaration with the court, which was designed to have the citation dismissed and which did not identify the judge as the actual driver,” commission chairman Nanci E. Nishimura wrote.
“The judge’s conduct constitutes, at a minimum, prejudicial misconduct.”
When a judge gets censured – one step shy of being removed from the bench – for declining to incriminate herself and insisting that the burden of proof is the obligation of the party making an accusation – you know the deck isn’t just stacked.
It’s glued together.
But it all follows from the principle of the innocent having to disprove their guilt – which was first tendered to the American people decades ago, when other judges judged it acceptable at “safety” ands “sobriety” checkpoints.
Judge Kavanaugh was justifiably outraged about having to prove he didn’t assault the woman who said he did – and insisted what she said be believed.
But at least he wasn’t required to pin the tail on some other donkey in his stead.
Maybe next time.
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