Traffic Court

I’ve got a front page story today about two traffic commissioners with very different judicial philosophies, who’ll be dispensing justice here in Fremont starting Friday.

The story, which you can read here, pretty much lays it all out.

But in addition to handing out significantly lower fines, Commissioner John Porter is also much more accommodating than Commissioner Nancy Lonsdale.

I was in Porter’s court yesterday. Porter asked a defendant if he needed 30, 60 or 90 days to pay his fine. The defendant said he could “hopefully” do it in 30 days. Porter said, “Let me give you 60.” Porter also always asks defendants to see if they might qualify for community service, which is available to students, and people working less than 20 hours a week.

In Lonsdale’s court, there’s been several times defendants have asked for 90 days to pay their fines, and Lonsdale usually gives them only two months. Plus, many of those defendants would qualified for community service in lieu of paying the fine, but Lonsdale almost never grants community service.

Matt Artz