Wednesday, February 12, 2014

People v. Simpson (App. Div. - Jan. 24, 2014)

Erica Simpson crosses over a double yellow line on the south 405 into the HOV lane.  In doing so, she almost hit Ernie Schoop, who has to brake suddenly in order to avoid a collision.

Unfortunately for Simpson, Schoop's a traffic cop for the LAPD.

So Schoop gives Simpson a ticket for going over the double yellow line.  Simpson fights it in traffic court, but loses.  At the trial, after all the evidence, the judge (Deborah Christian) tells Simpson that she's going to find her guilty.  The judge then asks the cop whether the lane change was also unsafe, and the officer says "Yes."  At which point the judge then adds on a charge of making an unsafe lane change, and immediately finds Simpson guilty of that offense as well.

You can't do that.

There's a reason we split judicial and executive power.  Judges decide cases.  They don't (with rare exceptions) institute charges.  That's what the executive does.

So it's okay to fine Simpson for the yellow line violation.  But the unsafe lane change gets reversed.

Justice accomplished.