Tuesday, March 06, 2018

People v. Monk (Cal. App. Div. Sup. Ct. - March 6, 2018)

This is the most important appellate opinion in California ever.


It's about a $25 fine.  For crossing an intersection when the "DON'T WALK" sign was flashing.

Yet, notwithstanding the incredibly tiny monetary interest at stake, the opinion may well have more practical significance to most of us than nearly every single one of the other appellate opinions we read.

Pamela Monk got her $25 ticket because a police officer saw her enter the crosswalk when the red "DON'T WALK" sign was flashing, and was in it's "countdown" mode; e.g., was at number "7" of the 15-second countdown.  The officer said, and the trial court found, that this violated the Vehicle Code.  On the theory that once the sign says don't walk, you're . . . wait for it . . . not supposed to walk.

But the Appellate Division reverses.  That's not what the law actually says.  Or at least not what it says now.

The law is instead that you're allowed to enter the intersection -- even if it says "DON'T WALK" -- as long as (1) the red sign (or the red hand) is still flashing, rather than constantly red, and (2) you finish your walk -- i.e., are out of the intersection -- before the countdown expires.

That's what I always thought the rule was.  And it's how I in fact walk across in street in those situations.

Good to know it's also, in fact, the law.