Letter: Verdict doesn’t change the truth

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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.

Susan Mitchel

Rossville

Comments

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Michel Deschiens

You were speeding. You were hoping that the system would let you off with a warning because you had never been caught speeding before. But that's not how it works.

Friday, January 3
Robert Gray

(1) People in that courtroom believed you, Mrs. Mitchel. You convinced me when you mentioned your complications from cataract surgery. I too could not be speeding down a dark road at night because I'm still getting over vision problems caused by that surgery. (2) You did not mention that you've never had a speeding ticket, and I doubt that would have changed the judge's ruling. Setting your cruise control is another reason I believed you were not speeding. I also believe most drivers CAN tell if they are going 48 vs 64 mph. I think the cop knows that too. (3) I agree that innocent people are fined for things they did not do, and I would be angry for having to pay for something I did not do.(4) This is the first time I've heard this judge tell anyone to file an appeal to her decision and to be certain to have an attorney do this. Leads me to believe that you lost your case because you did not bring an attorney into her courtroom. You SHOULD appeal her decision. (5) Radar guns do fail, even the manuals say this. (6) People who were not present in the courtroom are the first to claim you are guilty. These people clearly do not understand that anyone denying the violation receives papers from the "State of Indiana." (7) IF a judge finds for the state in most cases, who bares the "burden of proof"? You are correct, Mrs. Mitchel.

Sunday, January 12