Helmet tickets and most recently exhaust systems and tinted windows tickets have been changed to "Non-Correctable" equipment violations by the California Judicial Council (CJC) through misuse of the "Bail and Pentalies Schedule."
The CJC is authorized by the California Constitution, Article VI § 6 to make review and some changes, but with VERY definite limitations [excerpt] :
Changing a law from a correctable equipment violation to non-correctable one is inconsistent with the law. The CJC has overstepped its authority before and were sued and lost in Superior Court. In California Court Reporters Assn vs. CJC (39 Cal.App.4th 15 - 1994), Alameda Superior Court Judge Reardon, states:
By overstepping their authority, the CJC is violating the Separation of Powers between the Judicial and Exectutive Branches and worse, changing laws without the representative knowledge of the Legislature and People.
Below is the beginning of correspondence with the California Legislature. Posting of the CJC's reply will follow as soon as it's received...
Tuesday, August 22, 2000
Assembly Member Wally Knox
Please find attached my ticket for an alleged 27151 violation checked as correctable by the CHP, the L.A. Valley Court non-correctable bail notice I received , a Fullerton Court correctable Bail Notice for a similar exhaust violation per your request.
When I read that my bail was $77 without mention of correctability, I called the LA Valley Court Clerk who advised me very definitely that 27151 was no longer correctable per the 2000 Bail Schedule. I have seen a copy of the 2000 Bail Schedule and see that 27151 is listed as non-correctable, but according to the law, it is definitely correctable.
Contrary to Mr. Tucker of the California Judicial Council's interpretation of VC 40303.5 sub-section (d), my read of it only serves to prove that 27151 is clearly a correctable violation. Regardless of his or the CJC's opinion or "feelings" about this or any law, the CJC cannot modify any law inconsistent with it's spirit or Legislative intent. To do so is beyond the Judicial Branch's Constitutional power and authority.
In the opening the language "shall" means "must" unless the person is disqualified per 40610.b.
These disqualifying conditions are threefold:
In the absence of any of the disqualifying conditions, the officer "shall" permit the arrested person to execute a notice containing a promise to correct the violation, which CHP Officer Riley did per the law.
In 40303.5 subsection "d", the Code also states:
Division 12 ranges from 24000 to 28150. My ticket, 27151, is for an alleged exhaust system violation, which is certainly a piece of equipment, and the statute number falls well within Division 12. I see absolutely no confusion in the language. It is very clear. 27151 is equipment always has been part of Division 12 and clearly a correctable violation.
After being on the books for over 30 years, it seems strange indeed that the CJC would suddenly need to interpret what they feel the Legislators "really meant" in a few fairly innocuous equipment laws. If the Legislature didn't want 27151 to be correctable, I'm certain they would have written it that way or amended it over the subsequent 30 odd years.
In addition to changing 27151, the CJC also changed VC 27803 (the helmet law) from correctable to non-correctable a few years ago. And just like 27151, VC 27803 is listed as equipment and part of Division 12 and was intended to be correctable.
California Judicial Council
In addition to what the Vehicle Code says, I have done some research on the CJC and it's authority regarding existing statutes. Per the California Consitution (Article VI. §6), the CJC does have the authority to review the Bail Schedule, but as I understand it, any revision must be in harmony ("not inconsistent") with the law and Legislative Intent.
"not inconsistent with statute" is part and parcel of the CJC's authority and their limitations. In California Court Reporters Association vs. California Judicial Council (39 Cal.App.4th 15 - 1994), Alameda Superior Court Judge Reardon, defines "not inconsistent" to mean:
Correctable and non-correctable are clearly contradictory states and cannot co-exist which clearly illustrates that making 27151 and 27803 "non-correctable" would be totally inconsistent with the existing law and quite beyond the CJC's authority.
Further, the Superior Court addresses the extent of the CJC's authority to make rules. Take particular note of the second and third sentences. It appears that the CJC has attempted to test its boundaries before:
Reviewing the Bail Schedule is one thing. Changing a correctable violation to non-correctable is a major contradictory revision that must go through an accountable representative Legislative process, rather than an internal private Judicial process; hidden from the Legislature's and People's view in violation of the California Constitution and case law.
I would like the CJC to send us a copy of the 1999 and 2000 Bail and Penalty Schedule for side by side comparison. It should further support that 27151 was not always "non-correctable" as Mr. Tucker of the CJC would have us believe.
Given the above, I think we need to ask on what authority did the CJC change both VC 27151 and VC 27803 from correctable equipment violations to non-correctable ones. Further, if the CJC will not back down, I would like an opinion Attorney General Lockyer. Having served in the Legislature, I would bet he could shed the proper and binding light on all this.
Thank you very much for your concern and help.
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