An upstate judge in the town of Milan was dealing with a huge backlog of traffic cases. He decided the best way to deal with the backlog was to “plea bargain” tickets down to lesser offenses. Unfortunately, the New York state police, assuming a role similar to that of a prosecutor, objected to the judge’s actions.
The State Police took legal action and challenged the judge’s rulings to a higher court, the Second Department of the Appellate Division. The Second Department held that “the town justice’s attempt to ease the backlog may have been understandable, but it was not legally justifiable”. The court held that although they were sympathetic to the huge burden placed on the courts, there was a blanket policy against plea-bargaining for these types of cases.
In the town of Milan, the State Police are responsible for the prosecution of traffic tickets. In 2006, they established a policy of barring negotiations concerning the reduction of charges on traffic tickets given by State Troopers.
Administrative Ajudication Of Traffic Tickets:
The five boroughs of New York City, as well as Suffolk County, have administrative ajudication programs conerning traffic tickets. In these six counties, the police officer acts as the prosecutor. The officers have no authority to enter into plea bargaining arrangements and the judge has no authority to work out plea bargaining schemes. If the defendant pleads “not guilty”, the case goes to trial. The trials are conducted before an administrative judge.
For approximately 45 years, my office has been trying speeding tickets and other types of traffic cases in the five boroughs New York, as well as Suffolk County. These trials can be won with the right legal representation.