Did you hear the joke about Jackson County, Michigan speeding tickets? Here it is:
What is a foolproof way to get out of any speeding ticket in Jackson County?
Become a judge.
According to a story from mlive.com, Jackson County District Judge James M. Justin used the power of his office to dismiss nine traffic cases against himself and his wife. Here’s an excerpt:
Court records show Justin, who faces an ongoing judicial misconduct investigation, dismissed four illegal-parking tickets he received from 2002 to 2004.
The tickets were “dismissed after explanation” to himself.
Justin also dismissed five traffic tickets, most for speeding, received by his wife, Kim R. Justin, between 1999 and 2009.
The nine tickets carried potential fines and costs of $751, according to court documents.
Not surprisingly, the judge is looking for a slap on the wrist:
Justin acknowledges he was wrong but his actions warrant no more than a reprimand, said Dennis Kolenda, a Grand Rapids attorney and retired judge who represents Justin in the misconduct case.
Interestingly, the excuse that the judge used confirms that the current system sets up roadblocks to fighting tickets:
Justin decided to rule on the tickets himself to avoid the practical difficulties of “doing it the right way,” Kolenda said.
The judge probably isn’t sweating his ethics review too much though:
Justin continues to collect his $138,272 salary during his suspension.
These kind of stories and the popularity of other types of professional courtesy (police officers letting other police officers out of their tickets) feed the public’s distrust in the traffic enforcement system.
One of the key promises of the judicial system is that everyone is treated equally. We can’t accept actions like these from anyone, especially a judge.