You wouldn't think of this as a non-story if you had any experience at all with it. It's complicated and scary. This could happen to anyone, to YOU. Imagine if your rolling stop ended as a DUI. You're innocent (until proven guilty, remember that?), but you have to fight your case all the way to trial because the case can't be dismissed or someone loses his or her job for not being tough enough. This is happening more and more. It's widespread, expensive, life-altering, and unfair. The situation is reaching critical mass. Soon nearly every case will go through the appeals process all the way to trial, a very expensive and drawn-out route for ALL parties in an already backlogged system. We're talking first offenders on what start as traffic citations serving JAIL time! We're talking homeless people, with mental illnesses who can't buy one meal, with fines in the hundreds of dollars filling our jails over nonviolent offenses. The community isn't served by these people going to jail; it would be better served by community service, but that isn't often offered under this regime. The city can't collect their fines if cases are dismissed, and the fines on reduced offenses are far less. The people cited in this article are respected legal figures who took a major risk even talking about it, and they were being very careful expressing themselves. That should say something about how serious this situation is getting. Like I said, you truly need to understand the situation as it is and where it's going. It's not just about the cases highlighted in the article. It's about the patterns, the money, and the politics--and it's affecting real citizens whose criminality is yet to be determined.
Salt Lake City Weekly
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