Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No-show for traffic court

Even though judges sometimes are friendly in court and can smile and even joke around a little, blowing off a court date is not a good idea.

This morning I visited Judge Wilbrandt's traffic court at the McHenry County Courthouse. In case you have a date with him, you find him in Courtroom 102. When you arrive, you are supposed to check in the court clerk, who will then know to let the judge know you are present, so that he can call your case. If you don't inform the clerk, he doesn't call your case.

On June 23 a woman was stopped on Highway 14 northwest of Woodstock. When she presented her California driver's license, the deputy noticed that it was expired. He issued her a ticket for driving without a valid driver's license and gave her a court date of July 21 - that's today.

Interestingly enough, although she was driving a car at 1:27AM that was not registered in her name (and which was, in fact, registered to a woman who had been missing (at that time) for 30 days), the deputy did not require her to post a cash or other bond; he marked the ticket only as a Notice to Appear.

So, when she didn't show up today, what was the judge left holding? A piece of paper ordering the driver to appear. Big deal! The ticket is also marked "No Court Appearance Required". That might mean that she could have paid the ticket ahead of time. At 8:20AM, though, the cashier said the ticket had not been paid. So where was she?

What happens next? The court assigns a new date automatically for 60 days from now; thus, September 16th. And they will "sock" her a whole $10.00 for not showing up today. Wow! That ought to get her attention! Of course, the judge might make up for it in the fine, to which substantial court costs will be added.

Maybe a better deal for building respect of judges and tickets would be to set a date 7-14 days later with a Must Appear in the letter. Why let a driver skate for 60 more days? My first thought (shame on me) was, will she even still be in the state then?

The name of the driver with the June 23 ticket? Jennifer Paplham. That name might not ring a bell with you. Most around here know her as Jenn Wyatt. Why did she give that name to the deputy?

I wonder whether the prosecution is going to have trouble with this ticket, since there is no other traffic charge filed. What was the reason for stopping her early that Wednesday morning? Speeding? Passing? Will she plead Not Guilty, ask for a trial, get a sharp lawyer to shred the deputy, and get her off? Should the prosecutor amend the charge and tell the deputy to issue a ticket for the reason for the traffic stop?

Who drove the car away from the highway shoulder that morning? Surely, the deputy did not let her drive, because she didn't have a license. Was there a licensed driver in the car, or did a relative of the registered owner go out there to drive the car?

Is this another piece in the mysterious case of Beth Bentley's disappearance?

1 comment:

Whitmore2 said...

Keep asking those good, tough questions, Gus!