» Courts, DUI » Guilty Until Proven…

Guilty Until Proven…

Oh, who am I kidding? They aren’t even going to let you prove yourself not guilty. Not before it’s too late, at least. I’m talking about the Town of Gilbert again, and this time it isn’t your car or your money that they’re after. It’s your driver’s license.

The situation where I was recently reminded of how evil Gilbert is involved a client who received notice from the MVD telling him his license was suspended for failing to appear for a court hearing in Gilbert. If you get stopped for DUI in Gilbert and they take a blood sample, which they probably will, you may have to wait for a summons from the court instead of getting a ticket and a court date right there at the scene. The town will wait for blood results to see what charges to file, and you’re supposed to get paperwork in the mail telling you about your court date after they file the complaint.

That was my client’s situation when we set up an initial consultation. I filed my notice of appearance as soon as he hired me, and when I called the court that day to see if a complaint had been filed, the lady said they had already issued a warrant for his arrest because he missed his court date. The hearing had apparently been set for the day before. She tried to comfort me by explaining that the judge had just received my notice of appearance and would be quashing the warrant and setting a pretrial conference. She insisted the court had sent my client notice of the hearing he missed. I called my client and told him what had happened.

Because he thought the problem was solved, the license suspension notice he eventually received from the MVD was that much more irritating. Confused, I called the MVD and found out the Gilbert court had reported his failure to appear to the MVD, which resulted in a license suspension. The law allowing that states as follows:

On notification that a person failed to appear as directed for a scheduled court appearance after service of the complaint alleging a violation of a provision of this title, the department shall suspend the person’s driver license or nonresident operating privilege until the person appears, the fine or civil penalty is paid or a bond is forfeited.

The big problem was that my client was never served. He never received anything, in fact. I believe him too, as he is a gainfully-employed professional with a stable residence who was actively waiting for notice from the court. He had no reason to fail to appear.

I called the court again and explained the situation. To say that the woman on the phone lacked empathy would fail to do justice to her impressively hostile attitude toward me and my client. She said my client would have to wait until the next court hearing before they would report to the MVD and end the suspension. That hearing was weeks away. I told her my client never received anything, and she insisted again that they sent notice.

When I pointed out they had yet to mail me notice of the next date despite saying they would and that I only knew about the first hearing, the suspension, and the new hearing because I called and asked, her attitude got worse. It was hard to believe that was even possible, but it happened. She said there was nothing I could do to get my client’s license back. The court would not consider a motion to notify the MVD, and I could file a motion to accelerate the next hearing, but the court would deny it.

Gilbert sure is quite the place. Considering that there’s no obvious benefit to them for suspending some poor guy’s license due to their error and then refusing to make it right, it seems to me more nefarious than just stealing other people’s stuff. Government greed is bad, but being mean just for the sake of doing something bad to someone is a whole different animal. It’s like Gilbert was upset I hadn’t written about them in a while and decided to do something to really wow me. Well done, Gilbert.

And oh yeah, did I mention I still haven’t gotten the new court date notice they said they’d sent me?

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4 Responses to "Guilty Until Proven…"

  1. pml says:

    Of course your assuming he is telling you the truth about not getting the first notice, and we all know defendants in criminal matters always tell the truth.

    Notice that he hired you one day after he was supposed to be in court. Coincidence maybe, mayne not.

    1. Matt Brown says:

      I hope you’re just trolling.

      We set the meeting much earlier and even confirmed at that point that nothing had been filed. It was just bad luck we were a day late.

      It never ceases to amaze me that people would be suspicious about an individual with no reason to lie when the alternative is a court screwing something up. If you’re really being serious, I can only assume that you’ve never dealt with a court from the outside or that you just didn’t pay attention.

      I can’t even imagine what level of incompetence courts would have to show for you to consider distrusting them instead of automatically doubting an individual…

  2. […] but immutable fact: the clerk neglected to do something that caused significant and clear harm.  Matt Brown in Tempe found himself in this unenviable […]

    1. Alex Freeman says:

      My friend was arrested falsely for Agg. Ass. Lt Mesa PD. He spent 14 days in jail and demanded a Pre-Lim. Day before pre-lim they dismissed charges. Next couple months he spent contacting Civil Rights Attorneys cause after he was hand cuffed for a hit n run an officer had video and 2 non interest witnesses write affidavits that he was passenger. While handcuffed seated on ground, surrounded by 6 officers he was beaten to unconsciousness and defecated on himself. Paramedics were called to revive him. Day before an arraignment was scheduled (6 months later) he found out there was a date. So he filed motion showing a summons was sent to wrong address. Night of arrest his address was listed on all reports. Time of summons he still lived at address. Motion filed to Receive Proper Notice. Motion GRANTED. Sent summons to wrong address again. He has BOTH Registered Mail cards reflects this. FTA warrant sent.

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