My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US. - TennisForum.com

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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US.

Imagine my surprise while sitting in traffic court, to discover that everyone who received a traffic ticket was either black or brown or thought to be brown (ie, the case for my hubby). When my hubby came home and said he got a ticket for running a red light, it never once crossed my mind that he was possibly profiled. Well not until I got into court and saw nothing but black and brown people with tickets and nothing but caucasions sitting up front as the officers.

Don't get me wrong I don't think white cops are the only ones that profile, I don't think that at all. I think profiling is the perfect example of institutional racism that is so interweaved in our society that anyone in those positions, white, black, or brown would probably have a lof of the same tickets given out.

Having said that, back to court... When going over what happened with the hubby, it was clear to me that the officer who pulled him over could not have possibly known if my hubby's light had changed totally red before he entered the intersection and having read the law, it was clear that is what had to happen for him to be guilty. So we formulated a defense and went to court to fight the ticket. When speaking with the judge the officer admitted to going back and reviewing the camera 'to make sure he ran a red light', the judge then asked him if he was able to see the hubby's light before he pulled him over, he said no and she immediately dimissed the case.

After hearing the testimony, seeing all the defendents in court of the officers (btw, there was one caucasion lady with a ticket for a dui, and one guy for not stopping at a stop sign out of I would say 50 defendents in that session) it is clear to me that my hubby was profiled. At the time he was taking three other refugees from Iraq who had just recently come into the country to a special Ramadan service because they didn't have a car and have been pretty isolated from their community. So I truly think the officer pulled him over on a very questionable reason (running a red light that he wasn't even sure of) because he thought he saw a car load of hispanics. This is my presumption of course that he figured although the initial stop was questionable that he would then be able to site other things like no driver's licence or no insurance, etc....

This of course would not be the first or last time my hubby has been or will be mistaken for hispanic, it happens every day... but my happiness at getting the case dismissed is completely sobered by the reality of the world we still live in. </rant>


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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 04:16 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

Well, I get plenty of tickets and I'm about as black as Maria Sharapova

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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 04:47 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

Me, too. But that doesn't invalidate Rocketta's point.

I don't know enough about her community and her particular traffic court to comment. In my city there are some small traffic courts handled by JPs where the people would represent local demographics (about 70% Hispanic in my area).

And I don't know the demographics in your area, either Dave.

I know the PD in my old hometown in the Dallas 'burbs racially profiled like crazy.

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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 04:52 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

My guess, out of people who get tickets, a lot of people would just plead guilty,pay by mail/Internet and get done with it, without even going into courts. And that separation might be very much inline with economic realities, that is might fall into some economic profile separation.

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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 05:05 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

Interesting. I did not notice this where I contested a ticket once, but it was in the equivalent of a broom closet, so I thought not many bothered (cash cow for cities) or did not have the time to bother (not being to take off work). However, I do think that cops have biases.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 05:05 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

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Originally Posted by ys View Post
My guess, out of people who get tickets, a lot of people would just plead guilty,pay by mail/Internet and get done with it, without even going into courts. And that separation might be very much inline with economic realities, that is might fall into some economic profile separation.
That's what I do, and you can fight it/explain it through the mail and get your fine waived or lessened, which I've done.

And I know profiling goes on; I wasn't trying to invalidate Rocketta's point. It was just some self-deprecating humor (I've probably had close to 10 tickets in my life But I also drive a ton, so my tickets per mile ratio is probably still not too bad )

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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

ys, most people who showed up in court did plead guilty... I don't know if showing up in court was to try to get the fines decreased, giving credence to your economic reasoning but with how tough economic times are I would think people doing that would include all races.

The county was outside of Richmond, VA, it was Henrico county which is predominately a caucasion county... although, Richmond, Va is probably predominately black. I'm not sure of the census numbers... but I'll look.

One thing I didn't mention, was the officer was located in traffic in a cross street and that he was so far from the light that it took him almost a mile to catch up to my hubby to pull him over.....

It just didn't feel all above board to me in terms of the people with tickets. Funny thing was the judge was a black female and the minute the officer admitted he went back to the camera to see if 'really' ran the light just made it very evident that the officer clearly had a question as to whether he ran the light or not so what was the overriding reason to actually give a ticket instead of a warning because he wasn't truly sure?
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 05:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

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That's what I do, and you can fight it/explain it through the mail and get your fine waived or lessened, which I've done.

And I know profiling goes on; I wasn't trying to invalidate Rocketta's point. It was just some self-deprecating humor (I've probably had close to 10 tickets in my life But I also drive a ton, so my tickets per mile ratio is probably still not too bad )
Oh, it's ok I didn't think you were trying to invalidate anything I said, if you were then you would've received a Rocketta smackdown!



Btw, you couldn't write in to explain your case, you could only plead guilty and pay the ticket through the mail in that county.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

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Originally Posted by edificio View Post
Interesting. I did not notice this where I contested a ticket once, but it was in the equivalent of a broom closet, so I thought not many bothered (cash cow for cities) or did not have the time to bother (not being to take off work). However, I do think that cops have biases.
I've been to court in another city where it's like a clerk taking your summons.. he just asks are you guilty or not guilty, If you say guilty or ask for prayer from judgement.. then he would mark your speed under 9 miles above the speed limit. I don't know what happened there if you said non-guilty?
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 06:14 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

There is one other very interesting ( to me ) observation on the subject that I noticed in last several years, that could contribute to implicit profiling.. I'll describe it later today.. No time now..

"..just knowing that as long as i choose life, there is hope."

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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 11:30 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

Here is what I noticed. Traffic cops like it when you are afraid of them and dreading their tickets.

My first 7-8 years living in USA I was your regular middle class guy, first working on H visa, depending on the employer. Then greencard, but then economy was tough ( 2002-2004 ). So, I had that single attribute that defines the middle class - insecurity. Your life makes you be so much on the edge, that any problem can throw you off your comfort, financially first of all. In that period I was stopped by cops 6 or 7 times on 4 or 5 different states. Was ticketed every single time.
Then, finally I got more economical freedom. And it, of course, started to reflect on better finances, more comfortable life, more margin for error, more money to spend. Since then I was stopped three times. Not ticketed even once. The only ticket I got in these 6 years was a technical ticket because of minor collision in which I was partly at fault. Three times they just let me go.
What is the connection, would you ask?
Let me ask you. Who, do you think, would go working as a traffic cop? I think, two types of people. Those who can't get any other job. Probably a minority. Because in this job you are upsetting people for living. And mostly with no real reason. You bring them bad emotions, you ruin their mood, you often ruin their day. That's what you do. Who would like this kind of job? Folks with character on power-hungry and slightly sadistic side. I see no reason a normal person would like that job.
And, suppose they stop me, and it upsets me, as I am instantly thinking of $100 of fine and $200 per year of increased premium for insurance for 3 years. Ticket with a total cost of $700. I am afraid of it, I don't want to lose this money, I need them, I really want him to let me go, I am trying to be nice and perhaps more than just nice. Normally? They would never let you go in this situation. Because this is the situation this kind of folk enjoy. Stumping your authority over folks. whose eyes beg for clemency.
Now, imagine , that they stop me, and I don't give a fuck. Ticket? Whatever. Fine? Whatever. With you looking at him with this "whatever, just get done with it, so I can go take care of what is really, really important, comparing to all those fines and insurance premiums, something like that tennis match in a local league, that I am about to play" in your eyes. Stop. This is no longer fun. Punishing people who don't care is no fun for those folks. No joy. Now, for them, instead of enjoying your suffering, it is 10 minutes that they need to waste doing your ticket paperwork, getting no satisfaction in return. No, maybe they'd rather spend those 10 minutes catching someone who is afraid. And who'll feed their sick ego with their fear of inevitable. And then, perhaps, go to court, to try to beg and bargain for decreased fines or points.
So, don't be afraid. Whatever the outcome, there is no reason to be afraid.

"..just knowing that as long as i choose life, there is hope."

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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 7th, 2012, 11:31 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

A Hispanic American friend of mine from Texas moved to Phoenix a few years ago and she said the mayor there (at least I think it was the mayor) had instigated a pretty radical and unjust policy that made Hispanics a target for police officers. She said that she and many of her friends were being pulled over a lot and all of this was to try to catch illegal immigrants.

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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 2012, 12:16 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

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Originally Posted by Dave Robertson View Post
Well, I get plenty of tickets and I'm about as black as Maria Sharapova
I am with you. I chose to pay my fine rather then go to court
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 2012, 12:52 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

I like this post. Mostly because it shows how assumptions are often made based on ideology. The OP went to traffic court and saw mostly "brown" and "black" people. So the assumption is that there is some targeting of "brown" and "black" people. Someone else would walk into that court and assume that "brown" and "black" people have no regard for traffic laws.

For me, the fact leads me to a simple "why?" If it was where I lived I'd check the demographics, I'd check back on other days to see if it was the same thing, I'd find out how many of those ticketed are bothering to go to court rather than just pay the fine. I'd probably even talk to the clerks and maybe a few cops to get their take on the situation.

It is far to easy to take a fact and frame it within the viewpoint of what we already think. Especially when there are others who think similarly.

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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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Re: My experience going to Traffic Court and the sobering reality of living in the US

^
You'd not even bat an eye, assuming it's anything but a race issue, and keep it moving.

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