Las Vegas Lawsuit Aims to Curb Courts’ Revenue Generation Focus (Update)

It’s no secret that revenue generation is the name of the game for law enforcement and the courts these days. However, as has been pointed out previously on CopBlock.org, Las Vegas and the State of Nevada are particularly prone to such piracy. Now a lawsuit filed in Las Vegas aims to put an end to that.

The lawsuit stems from the case of Eric Siegler, who had warrants for “fix-it” tickets that he attempted to have a lawyer quash in April, so that he could resolve the original tickets. Instead that lawyer, Craig Mueller, was told that Siegler would have to pay $450 in fines before his case could even be heard by a judge.

Eventually, Mueller was able to get Seigler’s case before an elected judge without paying what is (correctly) described by the attorney as an “extortion fee.” At that point, Municipal Court Judge Martin Hastings not only quashed the warrants, but also waived the original fees. However, the city attorney’s office then filed a motion against Siegler “to clarify the process leading to quashing of bench warrants.”

Revenue Generation Traffic Courts

“Business” is good at the Las Vegas Municipal Courts

Mueller responded to that motion with the lawsuit on behalf of Siegler. In the suit, Siegler charges that the court levies unconstitutional fines and extracts hefty fees from poor defendants. It’s alleged that this is a purposeful strategy to take advantage of those least able to fight back against those policies in order to generate revenue through the court system. In addition, it states that the court denied constitutional due process rights to Eric Siegler in regard to his warrants.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, City Attorney Brad Jerbic declined to comment on the case, because litigation is pending.

In that same article, Mueller summarizes the way the courts operate:

Mueller suspects the move is simply an attempt to protect a traffic court system built around unaccountable judges, exorbitant fines and plain old “extortion.”

That’s why he hopes Siegler’s legal challenge — set to be heard by Hastings on July 22 — can force the court to change its ways.

“My hunch is (traffic court) is designed to do exactly what they’re doing with it: To make sure you don’t get to a judge and you get screwed out of these outrageous fines,” he said. “I think we can force them to rethink it.

“If nothing else, we can embarrass them into changing it.”

A good portion of the LVRJ article, outside of the part discussing the lawsuit, is a rehash of the previous criticisms of the revenue generation tactics of the Las Vegas Municipal Courts already detailed in my earlier post. However, there are some interesting things brought to light by this article. One is that (unnamed) court officials are actually quoted referring to the courts as “our business.” Another is the fact that, although the number of cases filed in the Municipal Court have dropped by over a third (36%) since 2003, revenue has increased by 124% in that time. The vast majority of that is due to secondary fees and charges not related to the original charges, which often add up to several times the original amount.

Another example of how well Las Vegas residents are being served by their elected representatives is that Councilmen Bob Coffin and Ricki Barlow, who collectively represent five of the poorest areas in town (by ZIP code), are not too worried about the impact this is having on their constituents. Although Coffin can’t even recall the reason for appointing unelected traffic commissioners to essentially act as judges, he states, “I’m comfortable with the traffic commissioners to the extent that I can be.”

The fact that the courts operate like the worst mob-run weekly payday loan sharking operation, designed to keep people on the hook for months, if not years, is disgraceful in and of itself. Its use of unelected “traffic commissioners” and the requirement to pay these exorbitant fees before you even have an option to be seen by an actual judge, is downright criminal.

And those “community leaders” who just aren’t that concerned about the way the communities who elected them are being fleeced by this racket should be put out on the streets with the rest of the garbage in this city. Without the ability to hire a lawyer, it’s almost impossible to fight against this type of thievery and that’s precisely why poor people, who lack the money to do so, are being targeted. Of course, low income residents are also the least able to afford this financial treadmill. The people who supposedly represent them shouldn’t be comfortable with that.

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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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13 Responses to “Las Vegas Lawsuit Aims to Curb Courts’ Revenue Generation Focus (Update)”

  1. JC July 25, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    Some idiot blows off his parking tickets and he gets nailed. Now some idiot is going to sue the city? Too funny.

    • Shawn July 25, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

      Um, fix it tickets are not parking tickets.

    • JCandcopsuckersaretratiors July 26, 2015 at 7:09 am #

      You know what’s funny JC? Your head on a fence post…

  2. TimSto July 25, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    you are all right about JC. Amazing!

    • Yomammaaho July 25, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

      He’s a copsucker through and through

  3. RadicalDude July 25, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    Legalistic extortion. Indeed it is the name of the game. A religion that is also a protection racket.

  4. Pay-to-play July 25, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

    Traffic court is a racket. There are states where even if you are found not guilty in traffic court you have to pay court fees because you brought the ticket in front of a judge rather than pay the ticket outright. It is truly pay-to-play. So police give out tickets knowing it won’t even stick in court but they figure more than half will just pay up to save time and aggravation and the remaining will pay that courts even if found not guilty. The courts don’t care either way because they get $50 for five minutes of court.

  5. Shawn July 25, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

    I’d like to know what happened to the concept of reasonable fines, required by the Constitution. There was a very specific effort to protect against such.

    “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed”

    Yet constantly you are seeing huge bails required, and fines for traffic offenses that easily go into hundreds of dollars. Now they use some ‘fees’ excuse. It isn’t the fine. It is fees tacked on, as a way of getting around it. A guy who works under me recently got that shock for a speeding ticket. The ‘fine’ was high enough, they they hit him up for ‘fees’. I’m pretty sure George and Ben would have considered ‘fines’ and ‘fees’ the same thing. Then shot a government thug for it.

    There is a profit motive now. Anyone claiming otherwise is a liar. They need to shift from money to a points system. That would still meet the issue of controlling unsafe driving behavior, while killing policing for profit motivations.
    People are less concerned about law, because we see the government doesn’t care. Hell, they shortened yellow lights at red light cameras to increase offenders. They can’t get people to accept more taxation to pay for the excessive spending, so they now try to get the money though other means that don’t require openly going to the public. The only legitimate means of funding government is taxation, and having to face that public to do it.

    • RadicalDude July 25, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

      “There is a profit motive now. ”

      That’s always been the mission of government? What was the first thing Washington did after he kicked the Redcoats out? Went to go shake down the whiskey farmers for loot. Only difference between piracy and government is the religion that goes along with government.

  6. kanenas101 July 26, 2015 at 9:07 am #

    Good grief… jail for a “fix it ticket?” That’s cruel and unusual punishment.

  7. Rogue cops cost us money July 26, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    A fucking fee should be the actual amount to take to process a ticket. 5 seconds to view it , 10 – 20 seconds to enter it into a computer. That should be it. THEIVES

  8. TigerLily Gonzalez July 27, 2015 at 9:00 am #

    Great article. The Nevada court system is putrid. It was better off when the mafia used to run everything!

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