Courthouse blunder puts me at risk for getting thrown back in jail
Update: I went in to the Department of Motor Vehicle to clear my suspension with the D6 Clearance Form they gave me at the courthouse yesterday and get this, they demanded another $47.50, meaning I ended up paying more than double my original fine because these idiots screwed up. This is nothing but a shakedown.
By sheer accident, I discovered last week that my driver license had been suspended for the previous two months.
This means that had I’ve been pulled over, I not only would have been thrown in jail, I would have probably remained there for an untold amount of time because I am on probation for having the gall to photograph cops against their wishes.
Judge Jose L. Fernandez
Not that they had ever sent me a notice, but the Miami-Dade court system informed me that the reason my license was suspended was because I never paid the $125 fine handed down by Judge Jose Fernandez after he found me guilty of obstructing traffic.
The reason they never sent me the notice, they told me, was because they claim they had sent it to my lawyer, who in turn, was supposed to send it to me.
One supervisor in the traffic division of the courthouse, whose name is Mariam S. Ayala, berated me and told me “it’s not our responsibility” to send it to you, “it’s your lawyer’s responsibility”.
Because I never paid the fine, they turned my case over to a collection agency, which then required me to pay a total of $200 plus a $10 processing fee to reinstate my license. All this from a $125 fine that I never even knew existed.
It all started the night of my trial after the verdict was read, which stated that I was not guilty of refusing a lawful order and disorderly conduct, but guilty of resisting arrest without violence, a conviction I am appealing.
Once the jury had left the courtroom, the judge told me he was “shocked” at my “lack of remorse” and found me guilty of obstructing traffic, which was the only one of my four charges that did not go before a jury because it is considered a traffic altercation. He then sentenced me to more than twice what the prosecutor was recommending.
The fact that the jury had already determined that I was not standing in the middle of the street and the fact that the banner photo on this site clearly shows that if anybody is obstructing traffic, it is the cops, obviously had no bearing on the judge’s biased ruling.
Before I left the courtroom that night, I was given a “memorandum of costs” which stated I had to pay a total of $540.50 in fines and fees and surcharges, so I naturally assumed this included the fine for the traffic altercation.
My copy of that document clearly shows that I signed it along with Judge Fernandez. And I paid that fine within a week of my trial. And since then, I’ve been paying hundreds of dollars more for anger management classes and for the pleasure of meeting with my probation officer once a month.
However, I learned this week that there was another document I was supposed to sign that night that they never gave me. That document, which the courthouse printed out for me on Tuesday, is called the “judgment” and it was signed by the judge himself the day after my trial.
It states that I had to pay $125.50 for my conviction of obstructing traffic within 30 days of my trial.
This is the document they claimed they sent to my lawyer, who in turn was supposed to send it to me. My lawyer, Arnold Trevilla, said he never received this document and I believe him because it has my address on it, not his.
And it has a space for the “defendant” to sign, not the “attorney”. And that space is unsigned by the defendant, as you can see on the scanned copy to the right (click to enlarge).
Also note the part where it states the following:
“Failure to pay the balance on or before the agreed date may result in contempt of court, the suspension of driver license, issuance of bench warrant or being required to reappear before the court, in addition to the payment of penalty fees.”
And if you scroll lower, you will read the following:
“I have read and understand the above terms and conditions and I hereby acknowledge receipt of a copy of this form”.
And it is unsigned. Not even a simple “X”.
Not that this will enable me to get a refund on the extra $85 I had to pay for not paying this fine on time.
Not that this will repair any damage to my credit that was done by having this sent to a collection agency.
And not that the court system will ever own up to its mistake.
But I’m sure there is a certain judge who is disappointed that I did not get pulled over before I got this issue resolved.