Amanda Ripley’s article (“Fish in a Barrel,” 9/11) stresses that “bogus tickets” can be adjudicated. I once received a parking ticket for allegedly being parked on a block for over two hours. In fact, I left after about an hour and returned to the same block (but not the same space). Fortunately, I had evidence—a receipt of a purchase of bread in Chillum. Armed with what I thought was an open-and-shut case, I went to adjudicate that ticket, and one other, involving a broken meter. (For that one, I had photos—$13 in processing costs to contest a $15 ticket.) I appeared around 9 a.m.; my case was heard at 2:30 p.m., five-and-a-half hours later. The hearing officer, apparently surprised by hard evidence of innocence after a day of pleas for mercy, closely questioned my story, including the time it takes to drive from 18th & F to Chillum at 12:30 in the afternoon. The tickets were ultimately dismissed, saving me about $30—but costing me about $100 in lost pay. Only in D.C. would that be considered justice.

By the way, there’s a presumption of guilt at the adjudication hearings; unless you can prove a ticket’s invalidity, it will stand. The ticket-writer is not compelled to appear. In short, by presuming guilt, not enabling the defendant to confront the accuser,

and relying on hearsay evidence

(i.e., the ticket), the adjudication process stands traditional notions of justice on their head. I can’t think of a better area for reform by the next city administration.

I would also point out that I have never seen a ticket-writer stop writing a ticket when the driver appears. In fact, I have seen, on numerous occasions, the ticket-writer continue to write a ticket after the driver has driven away. The first thing ticket-writers write down is the license number. And ticket-writing should not be a backdoor commuter tax; if a commuter tax is just, enact it into law. If the D.C. government were competent at anything other than raising revenue through ticketing and towing, perhaps Congress might be more sympathetic towards allowing the city to raise more money. I, too, could raise a bundle if I could trump up parking violations and summarily hold people’s cars for ransom when they refused to pay those tickets or submit to the farce of the adjudication system.

Adelphi, Md.

via the Internet