Under protest, I will pay the “fine on Count I of $20 and court costs of $135.50” for a speeding ticket I received on County Road 700E. Having never received a speeding ticket in my 46 years as a driver, I trusted our legal system to exonerate me. In my lifetime, I never expected to read, “State of Indiana Montgomery County vs. Susan Mitchel” on any legal documents. Nor did I expect to feel intimidated by papers handed to me by a police officer, “If you demand a trial and are found to have committed the violation, your license may be suspended for up to 1 year, you may be assessed costs, and you may be fined: Class C Infraction: Max $500.” Perhaps this explains why less than three percent of drivers demand court trials for speeding infractions. Being innocent, I entered Montgomery Superior Court 2 with confidence on Thursday, Dec. 19.
I quickly discovered the chances of winning in Indiana’s courtrooms are almost non-existent, and defendants spend much more than the costs of their initial tickets while “denying the violation/s.” While our laws proclaim the burden of proof resides with the state, the reality is that our court system is “stacked” against Hoosiers. I exited that courtroom disheartened, disillusioned and dumbfounded. I will not be seeking additional legal counsel, nor will I be appealing the verdict to the Indiana Court of Appeals as suggested by the judge. The costs to do so are ridiculous — $250 plus exorbitant attorney’s fees. Yes, the judge admonished me to have an attorney if appealing her verdict. This decision “knocked the wind from my sails.” I am pondering how many others have been convicted for traffic infractions they did not commit. I remain innocent of these charges. This verdict does not change the truth.