Reliance on Traffic Ticket Revenue Has Left Nevada Supreme Court Broke

Back in March, Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty warned state legislators that the NV Supreme Court coffers were bare, due to a drop in revenue from traffic tickets. A decrease in the amount of tickets being issued by law enforcement state-wide had left the courts $700k over budget this year and facing another $700k shortage next year, for a $1.4 million total shortfall. In Nevada and other states, the state supreme court is funded by assessment fees added onto the fines for traffic citations.

Hardesty made sure lawmakers knew he wasn’t fooling around with an ominous threat to take everyone’s ball and go home if they didn’t find some way for taxpayers to pay up:

NV Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty

Justice James Hardesty

“If this is not addressed by May 1, the court will not have sufficient cash to operate,” Hardesty said in his testimony to lawmakers, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. “I believe the legislature has a constitutional obligation to fund the judicial branch of government. Do you want me to close the judicial branch of government at the state level on May 1?”

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s past May 1st and Nevada still has a functioning Supreme Court. That’s because the state legislature passed NV SB469, which provided $600k in “emergency” funds to hold them over for a little while longer. There are, of course, larger issues beyond an unpredictable budget that are created by the propensity for government agencies and courts to use traffic and other citations as a revenue generation source.

NV Courts Revenue GenerationThe first and most obvious being that it creates a perverse incentive for lawmakers to pass laws based solely for that purpose and for police to enforce laws based on that priority. The reliance on drug seizure funds for local police departments, the huge growth in the War on (Some) Drugs, and the resulting human rights violations that have resulted are well documented at this point.

The less apparent and visible result involves the continued erosion of the premise that cops are here to “protect and serve.” Hardesty himself states that the budget crunch is a result of a change in priorities by police across the state. The Las Vegas Review Journal takes it a step further stating:

“the number of tickets written by law enforcement agencies around the state has been declining steadily, partly because state troopers have focused on violations more likely to lead to crashes…

Part of the reason, police said, is the NHP Strategic Plan’s emphasis on violations that could cause crashes, including distracted driving and driving under the influence. Police also believe enforcement and the Zero Fatalities education program have changed drivers’ behavior, while completion of some major highway projects has made traffic move better.”

When an emphasis on safety over revenue generation and a perceived improvement in driver’s behavior and road conditions is seen as a problem, then that’s actually a problem. Further, when the general population’s interaction with the police and courts trends increasingly toward negative and unnecessary harassment, it doesn’t help the already battered reputations of departments, such as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

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Recently, the entire Las Vegas Constable’s Office was dissolved with one of the bigger reasons behind that being the corruption caused by tying revenue to citations. The biggest scheme consisted of an assessment fee attached to tickets issued to people that didn’t change their car registration within 30 days of moving from another state. A 2012 modification in that law increasing the amount of fines and decreasing the amount of time allowed to change registration, which was itself passed explicitly to increase revenue, also allowed constables to collect a commission on the assessment fee.

The fact that those ticketed had to pay the assessment fee even if they were actually within the allotted 30 days, led to constables spending the majority of their days trolling through parking lots and apartment complexes looking for anyone with an out of state license plate. As you might imagine, it didn’t exactly endear them to new residents or others within the community. Nor did the unauthorized traffic stops that they began making to bring in even more cash.

Revenue Generation Through CitationsAs already noted in a previous post, the Las Vegas Municipal Courts also recently came under fire for their “money hungry” ways. Among those criticisms was that the courts were putting revenue generation before safety by allowing people that were actually a threat and prone to violence to pay fees rather than go to jail. They also were accused of charging excessive fees to non-violent offenders with financial difficulties in order to keep them paying over long periods of time. (See the video below for an illustration of the loan-shark style scam that traffic tickets now represent.)

Not surprisingly, when you make the funding of government dependent on harassing and stealing from the citizens what you end up with is a government whose main function is to find new and worse ways to harass and steal from those citizens. The equally unsurprising aftereffect is to create a citizenry that sees government as nothing, but a den of thieves. When positive behavior is seen as a bad thing because it makes funding that government more difficult, then that assessment of them is pretty valid.

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About Kelly W. Patterson

a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who's been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He's also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes. ____________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Kelly at these social networks; Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

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27 Responses to “Reliance on Traffic Ticket Revenue Has Left Nevada Supreme Court Broke”

  1. vegas jack June 18, 2015 at 7:30 am #

    I have lived in Vegas since ’94. It is rare to actually see someone pulled over especially since half of the drivers here are dangerous morons. This is the only place I have lived that I have wanted cops to hand out more tickets. It is not unusual to see 3 or 4 cars run a light after it has changed to red. If you find yourself on the strip, be extra careful as most out of towners are looking at everything but the road.

    • Boko Hos June 18, 2015 at 7:41 am #

      You were an idiot for moving there. lol

  2. Shawn June 18, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    The only legitimate means of funding government is taxation, going hat in hand to the citizenry and explaining why they need more money.
    Profit policing encourages a profit centered motivation. As was said, it creates of law changes solely to increase revenue. Red light cameras, where they were caught shortening yellows, for example. A clear choice to hazard people in order to increase ‘offenders’.

    As for the asshole judge? Did he miss the part of where the legislature is supposed to oversee the use of that money? Like all in government, they need to really look at where money is going to waste. I’d bet I can easily find places to cut costs. The public isn’t a bottomless well of cash.

    • Bingo June 18, 2015 at 10:59 am #

      That is the problem with spending other people’s money – eventually they run out.

  3. RAD June 18, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    Oh no what would we normal humans do without the supreme priests of the government religion to interpret the sacred scriptures of government for us? The false messiahs need cash; somebody is going to have to steal some so they can continue funding the priesthood and keep pretending to be the saviors of society as if we need their religious bullshit being preached at us. Saving the world through organized theft and faith in false religion.

  4. JC June 18, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    You took this story from an activist run website. In other words, you plagiarized the article. Of course you also twisted it around in places.

    • keepitreal June 18, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

      Your grandfather was a Nazi, slaps.

  5. mobooz June 18, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    I don’t remember Hardesty asking cops to write more tickets. In fact, this article makes it clear that Hardesty is asking the legislature to change the way that the courts are funded.

    They asked the legislature for more money because they need it–they’re one of the busiest state supreme courts in the country. That shouldn’t be a problem going into the future, because Nevada recently established an appellate court system to handle some of the caseload and save a bunch of money.

    • RAD June 18, 2015 at 10:05 am #

      Yeah, THEY need IT. No one needs them or their mystical false dogmas.
      http://www.actionplusbb.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/benefits-of-bail.jpg

      • mobooz June 18, 2015 at 10:44 am #

        For the fluffiest nonsense, I like to sprinkle in a bit of international Jewish banking conspiracy. Try it, you might just like it. :)

        • RAD June 18, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

          Have you prayed to the flag lately? Does it ever answer you back?

          • mobooz June 18, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

            Classic. Fucking classic. XD

          • RAD June 18, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

            https://i.imgflip.com/k1v9q.jpg

            Hobbes, Leviathan:

            “it is a real unity of them all in one and the same person,…the multitude so united in one person is called a COMMONWEALTH…This is the generation of that great LEVIATHAN…of that…god…which, to define it, is: one person”

            Montevideo convention:

            “ARTICLE 1

            The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory; c ) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.
            ARTICLE 2

            The federal state shall constitute a sole person in the eyes of international law.”

            United States v. Cooper Corp.
            312 U.S. 600 (1941):

            “The United States is a juristic person in the sense that it has capacity to sue upon contracts made with it or in vindication of its property rights.”

            It’s fluffy non-sense, but that’s the dogma these robed magis actually preach as their religion.

          • mobooz June 18, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

            Oh, well, if Thomas Hobbes says so… Have you prayed to Hobbes lately? Does he answer you back?

          • RAD June 18, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

            The order of the priesthood known as “Scotus” talks about the same stuff. Leviathan regularly shows up as a character in their religious fables. Such as when the Leviathan called Arizona sued the Leviathan known as The United States. Imagine that, a case where both the plaintiff and defendant are imaginary deities. A modern day religious allegorical fable. All paid for by tax money. So much for the scriptural fable of “separation of church and state”. Yeah, that never happened since the government is a religious cult.

          • mobooz June 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

            How deep into Uncle Sam are you for back-taxes?

          • RAD June 18, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

            How do you know Uncle Sam exists? When is the last time you spoke with him? Why do you have to pray to him through an idol(flag) instead of face to face? Oh, yeah, because he’s like Santa Claus: imaginary. But if you want to believe in him as your religion, I respect your right to believe whatever bs you want.

          • mobooz June 18, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

            Waitaminute… You’re telling me Santa Claus isn’t real?! Nooooooo!! Why, Uncle Sam, why?? How could you and Jesus let this happen?! Save me, Superman!

          • Common Sense June 19, 2015 at 6:30 am #

            Ha ha ha +3

  6. Disgusting June 18, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    The legislature has an obligation to fund the judicial branch.
    Did he seriously say that? Fire them all and then we won’t need another branch to make up laws to fleece citizens to pay your salary.

  7. RETUSAF1995 June 18, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    NV could always join Powerball and Mega millions, that would add a few hundred million to the budget. They could also tax the casinos.

  8. Midnight June 18, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    These swine are capitalism’s enforcement arm…..

  9. Rex June 18, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    “Do you want me to close the judicial branch of government at the state level on May 1?”
    Hey, I’d like to close all of them, but it’s a good start!

    “The equally unsurprising aftereffect is to create a citizenry that sees government as nothing, but a den of thieves”
    I wouldn’t say “see government as a den of thieves”, more “realizes government is a den of thieves”.

  10. freedomluchador June 18, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

    In Mexico they call them leeches!

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