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California Bans Contingent Fee Parking Tickets
New California law attempts to address the conflict of for-profit adjudication in parking tickets.

Chuck DeVore
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) earlier this month signed a new law prohibiting cities and counties from making guilty verdict bonus payments to the for-profit companies that provide parking ticket adjudication services. State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) said that he introduced this legislation to restore some fairness in the ticketing process.

"There is a conflict of interest when a parking enforcement company hired by a city acts as the judge, jury, and executioner when distributing violations," DeVore said in a statement Thursday. "If a company profits from distributing a greater number of parking infractions, there is no incentive to act justly by allowing for a fair appeals process."

A number of cities throughout the state hire a private companies that cover every aspect of parking enforcement from the writing of tickets to holding trials and enforcing collections. In these cities, a company provides "hearing officers" that determine the validity of tickets issued by the same company's own meter maids. DeVore's original intention was to forbid this arrangement entirely, but state senators blocked this effort. The weakened measure now only prevents companies from enjoying a financial bounty based upon the number of guilty verdicts rendered.

"Parking tickets are the average person's only direct experience with the justice system," DeVore said. "And it's a bad experience. Any system of justice that assumes that people are automatically guilty undermines support for the rule of law. This law restores some justice to our system of parking enforcement."

The text of the new law is available in an 80k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Assembly Bill 602 (California State Legislature, 5/26/2008)

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