(Fred Weinberg) – Just when you thought the discourse in Nevada’s capital, Carson City, could not become more stupid, Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice James Hardesty told the legislature that the Court will be broke on May 1 because the cops aren’t writing enough tickets.
Apparently, in Nevada, most of our cops have received and understood the message which was being sent to the Feds at the Bundy Ranch last year. Enough. Those above them in the food chain? Not so much.
Last week, in this space, I wrote about the criminal justice system morphing into a collection agency. If this doesn’t prove my theory I’m not sure anything short of a riot by white folks in the suburbs will.
The Nevada Constitution says: 6. Sec: Excessive bail and fines; cruel or unusual punishments; detention of witnesses. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor shall cruel or unusual punishments be inflicted, nor shall witnesses be unreasonably detained.
What, exactly, do you think it is when assessments are put on fines, specifically, to fund the court?
The court is whining because the Nevada Highway Patrol—in a fit of good sense—has changed the way it looks at traffic enforcement. Instead of sitting on the side of the road with radar guns, the NHP’s strategic plan keeps the emphasis on violations that could cause crashes, including distracted driving and driving under the influence. Also, people seem to be driving better.
Now, here’s the rub. It used to be easy for these guys to add a new program. Stick a fee on traffic tickets and it’ll all be paid for. Drug Court? No problem. Veterans Court? No problem. We don’t actually have to prioritize our spending and make tough budget decisions, we’ll make the “criminals” pay for it.
Problem is, we don’t have enough criminals and it appears that there is a financial incentive to create and catch more. Keep it up and you have some of the very same things which caused Ferguson, Missouri. How long can you gouge people with the long arm of the law before they start fighting back?
And in the case of these “fees” if some taxpayer group could get just one judge to say that they’re really taxes, it would be interesting to go back and see how many of them were passed after the Gibbons Amendment went into effect without the requisite supermajority vote of the legislature or a vote of the people.
The Nevada Resort Association—which spends most of its time saying “we pay too much”—is always talking about a “broad-based” funding mechanism. That’s code for gouge someone else.
This is one of those areas which we really need to look at that.
The justice system shouldn’t pay for itself with fees attached to fines. It is axiomatic that government will always expand to require all the available money and then ask for more.
So such funding sounds good until you realize that it will, inevitably, create an incentive for more and more violations creating a self-liquidating justice system.
Go back and read that line from the Nevada Constitution.
What part of “nor excessive fines imposed” don’t you understand? If a reduction in tickets causes a court system to go broke, then, by definition, the fines are excessive and unconstitutional at the state level.
The legislative argument that “everybody does it” should be met with my mother’s favorite rejoinder—“if everybody is going to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, are you jumping too?”
Mr. Weinberg is publisher of the Penny Press. Get to know more about him by visiting www.PennyPresslv.com.