Feb 24

Jon Zimmerman

Morton Police Officers Waste Taxpayer Resources on Traffic Court

by Jon Zimmerman

Many drivers know - and many learn - that fighting a speeding ticket or other type of traffic infraction often means the difference between maintaining low insurance premiums and having insurance payments go through the roof. 

But what does it mean to police officers who to go to court?  Overtime. 

Last week I had the pleasure of going to court in Chehalis, Lewis County.  Not long before my client's hearing, I observed a contested hearing with another attorney and two police officers from Morton, the small, approximately thousand persons town and hub of eastern Lewis County located between Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. 

Rather than file a declaration or affidavit to support the traffic infraction, two officers decided to show up to court, unannounced and without any prosecutor.  Investigation by yours truly discovered that the officers (yes, not one but two) decided that it was in their financial interest to go to court because the officers are able to accrue overtime. 

It's not a new discovery that some officers earn overtime by going to court, but there are two exceptional issues with this particular case.  First, it's unusual for two officers to come to court for one infraction.  Second, it's an incredible waste of money when taxpayers in a rural community like Morton (per capita median income at $16,275, 2000 census) foot the bill for fishing expeditions by police officers.  Overtime for the police officers' unrequired (and to my knowledge not demanded) presence would exceed the amount of any return from the infraction's bail amount.  This overzealousness, waste of time, and waste of resources by Morton police is another reason that drivers should feel empowered to fight unreasonable enforcement by fighting their tickets.   


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