This letter is in response to one written by Thomas G. Roberts, in which recounts his recent experience in Village Court and accuses me of “practicing ageism” in my court.
Drivers in the State of New York are responsible for understanding and abiding by the laws that govern vehicle operation and ownership. This includes having your vehicle inspected annually. The dated inspection sticker is right on the windshield for you to see every time you get in your car.
As you explain in your letter, your vehicle inspection date passed, and you were issued a traffic ticket by a NYS Trooper. You state in your letter you were “advised to plead guilty and told, in all likelihood, the ticket would be dismissed.” A plea of guilty and the dismissal of a ticket are completely opposite resolutions of a matter. If you plead guilty, you are admitting your guilt to the charge. If a ticket is dismissed, there is no adjudication and the matter is concluded with the dismissal. You do not indicate who it was who “advised” you to plead guilty, but if that same person “told” you that, after your guilty plea your ticket would be dismissed, it seems you received some bad advice.
The Village of Warwick does not employ a Village prosecutor to handle traffic tickets in this municipality, which means that negotiations are conducted between the driver and the police officer. New York State Police have a policy with regard to traffic tickets issued in jurisdictions such as ours: the individual trooper who issued the ticket is not permitted to plea bargain. If you are issued a ticket by a State Trooper, you have two options: plead guilty or proceed with a trial.
You state in your letter that you stood before me and “without a question as to what happened were found guilty.” This is not correct, Mr. Roberts: you PLEAD guilty. You were not FOUND guilty by me, as this only could happen after a trial. You stood before me, I read the plea memorandum entered into between you and the State Trooper in which you admitted your guilt and which you SIGNED, and I asked you if this was an acceptable resolution to your matter. You indicated it was, so I imposed a sentence (fine).
The imposition of the sentence was the only discretionary role I played in your case. So tell me, Mr. Roberts, did I impose a higher fine against you because of your age? Did you observe other, younger, drivers with the same charge as you who were given preferential treatment?
The accusation you level against me is extremely serious in nature. I typically do not feel the need the defend myself to detractors – to remind them of my involvement with the Board of Directors of Meals on Wheels for Warwick, or the fact that, as PTA President at Park Avenue Elementary School, I founded the Veterans Day recognition program which honors, in large part, senior citizens who served our country, or the simple fact that I was raised properly, taught to respect and revere ALL members of our society and am teaching my daughters to do the same. How dare you accuse me of ageism, Mr. Roberts. You know nothing of me, other than one interaction in court.
I have a question for you, Mr. Roberts. Your ticket was issued on March 12, 2013. You appeared in court and entered your guilty plea on June 12, 2013. If you were so incensed about the practice of ageism in my court, what steps did you take at that time to combat it?