Not soft on speeders

April 5, 2009 

As a criminal defense attorney who handles more than a thousand traffic cases a year, I would like to comment on your March 28 article "Courts are still soft on speeders."

If our legislators had truly intended to foreclose the possibility of a prayer for judgment continued in cases where the original charge was speeding more than 25 over the limit, they could have done so. They merely needed to change the word "charged" to the words "originally charged." Then, even if the charge were reduced, a judge would not be able to grant a PJC. Judges are not ignoring the law: It simply does not prohibit PJCs in these cases. (Note: Criminal statutes must be construed in favor of the defendant.)

As to your implication that plea bargains should not be made in traffic cases, remember that plea bargains are given in nearly all kinds of cases to conserve prosecutorial and judicial resources. In Wake County alone, there are more than 50,000 traffic tickets issued every year. If defendants couldn't get pleas, and so had nothing to lose by going to trial, Wake County would need 10 to 20 more courtrooms, with judges, assistant district attorneys, clerks and bailiffs, just to handle traffic tickets.

Using anecdotal evidence to prove your point is misleading at best. District Court judges and assistant district attorneys in Wake County routinely work on hundreds of cases every day. On any given day, in disposition court where most traffic matters are handled, a single judge and one or two ADAs often handle more than a thousand cases. Do they make the occasional mistake? Of course. But this doesn't fairly allow one to draw the conclusion that they are soft of speeders.

Andrew M. Rogers


The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the article.

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