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12/8/2005
Los Angeles Court Bans Ticket Challenge Assistance
The Los Angeles County, California Court has banned any education in or near a courthouse that may assist an individual in fighting a traffic ticket.

September 2004 Arrest
The Los Angeles County, California Court issued an edict last month banning any "education or counseling" within 100 feet of a courthouse that might assist individuals in fighting a traffic citation. The move comes in response to efforts by the editor of the highwayrobbery.net website to help individuals exercise their full legal rights with respect to red light camera tickets.

The court's war on education and counseling began in August 2004, when Judge John Meigs refused a request to allow distribution of legal challenge material within the Inglewood courthouse. "If you wish to distribute literature, it must be distributed outside the courthouse in a place that does not interfere with individuals entering or exiting the courthouse," Meigs wrote. According to court documents, the general order allowed such distributions within 10 feet of the entrance.

"I go out to the courthouses, every week, as part of my effort to help red light camera defendants get a fair shake," the editor explained. "I go there not just to observe the trials, but also to provide information to defendants I find there, to help them deal with their tickets."

Each red light ticket runs $341. "Many of the defendants in that part of town don't have any money," he told TheNewspaper. For the Inglewood courthouse, the stakes are high. It handles about $800,000 in red light camera fine revenue every month.

In September 2004, a judge ordered the arrest of the editor at the Inglewood courthouse after the man had provided "Peremptory Challenge" forms to defendants. These forms are used to disqualify a biased judge and request transfer of a case to a new judge. A timely challenge must be granted, but some judges take the legal maneuver personally.

The editor was formally charged with "distributing literature" less than ten feet from the building entrance. Refusing to give up his right to help others, he returned to the courthouse the next day and was nearly arrested a second time for holding a sign offering free help -- this time 45 feet from the entrance (see photo). The advice was politely offered, and anyone who asked for the information received a packet specifically tailored to various stages of fighting a ticket.

On November 15, 2005 the court fired back with the order extending the ban on free speech or assembly to 100 feet. "No person... shall, within 100 feet of any doorway to any courthouse... knowingly approach another person, within eight feet of such person, unless such other person consents, for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education or counseling with such other person," the order states.

Violation of the edict carries a $1500 fine and potential "prosecution for criminal violations." A full copy of the edict is available in a 541k PDF file at the source link below.

Article Excerpt:
CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 1 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

SEC. 2. (a) Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.
...
SEC. 3. (a) The people have the right to instruct their representatives, petition government for redress of grievances, and assemble freely to consult for the common good.
Source: PDF File General Order August 15 2005 (Superior Court of California, LA County, 11/15/2005)

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