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Suit filed against Marion County traffic court

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A suit filed today claims the Marion County traffic court judge is violating residents' constitutional rights by imposing additional fines on those who unsuccessfully challenge their tickets and closing proceedings to the public.

Plaintiffs Toshinao Ishii, Matthew Stone, and Adam Lenkowsky filed their suit in Marion Superior Court No. 11 against Marion Superior Judge William E. Young in Court No. 13 and the city of Indianapolis. The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief through an order of mandamus prohibiting Judge Young to impose additional fines against defendants who fail to win their cases before the traffic and parking violations courts.

The suit, a class action complaint, also asks for a return of the fines received by the court, and to keep the traffic court from closing its courtroom to the public. The plaintiffs claim the imposition of additional fines has a chilling effect on the fair and equitable administration of justice.

According to the suit, when Judge Young took the bench in traffic court this year, he instituted a policy that defendants that come before his court and are found guilty would be fined up to an additional $500 and could even be assessed up to $10,000 plus court costs. The traffic courtroom is also open only to defendants. No one else, including parents of minors who have received tickets, can be present during procedings.

Ishii appeared in traffic court to contest a ticket; he lost and was fined an addition $400. Stone was cited for improperly wearing a seatbelt. He wears it differently because of a pacemaker and chose not to challenge the ticket because of Judge Young's policy. Lenkowsky asked to enter the courtroom as a member of the public and was denied entrance.

The suit also includes the newly opened parking citation court in Indianapolis, in which defendants who don't pay their ticket prior to a scheduled hearing may be assessed up to $2,500 in fines, according to the city of Indianapolis.

The threat of these fines violates the Eighth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, sections 12, 16 and 23 of the Indiana Constitution, according to the suit.

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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