I recently suggested that bar associations, law students, or even local governments, start doing more to help recipients of parking tickets learn their rights. In the past week, I located two examples of government-sponsored websites with such information:
City of Chicago: Contesting a Parking Ticket — on this “I Object” webpage, Chicago lists each defense available for challenging a parking ticket, and supplies an email link for asking questions. You need to check your local ordinances, of course, but this information would be valid in many communities:
The respondent was not the owner or lessee of the cited vehicle at the time of the violation.
The cited vehicle or its state registration plates were stolen at the time the violation was issued.
The relevant signs prohibiting or restricting parking were missing or obscured.
The parking meter was broken or malfunctioning through no fault of your own.
The facts alleged on the ticket contain inconsistent or inaccurate information, or the facts fail to establish that the violation occurred.
The illegal condition described in the compliance violation did not exist at the time the violation was issued.
The compliance violation has been corrected prior to the hearing; provided, however, that this defense shall not apply to [various violations listed in particular sections of the City’s regulations]
The National Parking Adjudication Service — It’s no surprise that a comprehensive site is available with parking-ticket information in the United Kingdom. “The National Parking Adjudication Service is an independent tribunal where impartial lawyers consider appeals by motorists and vehicle owners whose vehicles have been issued with Penalty Charge Notices (or have been removed or clamped) by councils in England and Wales enforcing parking under the Road Traffic Act 1991.” At the site, you’ll find information on Challenging Your Ticket, plus links to relevant Regulations and Legislation.
If visitors to this site know of similar webpages, please leave a pointer. If bar groups, law students or local traffic departments don’t know where to start, I hope they’ll get some good ideas from the Chicago and UK websites.
Lawyer Bobby Glenn Adkins Jr. seems to think his clients should pay for the time he spends responding to their valid bar grievances. So, Bobby billed three clients for such activities, simply calling them “legal services.” Bobby is now disbarred and ethicalEsq sends its sincere thanks to the Supreme Court of Georgia. (See, Fulton County Daily Report, “Aggressive Billing Tactics Lead to Disbarment,” 03-08-04) (thanks to The Legal Reader for the initial pointer, and Overlawyered for digging out the court opinion)
According to the Daily Report article, one case involved a mere $40, but:
When the couple’s son disputed the amount, “Adkins began sending threatening letters stating that he would sue the couple and seek to foreclose on their home, even though he later testified that he had no intention of taking either action,” according to the court.
After the son filed a grievance with the bar, Adkins sent more threatening letters, sued the son for defamation and sent the couple an invoice for $370, according to the decision.
The article notes that “Adkins denied that he charged clients for his time responding to their Bar complaints, saying, ‘Nobody was ever deceived.'” Of course, whether he charged them and whether they were deceived are two separate issues — the clients all knew he had performed no additional legal services for them when these new amounts were billed.
The Court stressed the deception involved in trying to cover up the improper billing under the vague term “legal services,” adding “In aggravation of discipline, we note the pattern of misconduct, multiple offenses involved, Adkins’ deceit, and his refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of the conduct.”
If there is any Bad News here, it comes from Adkins’ allegation that bar counsel were willing to merely issue a reprimand if he admitted the unethical conduct. Although Adkins calls a reprimand a “draconian demand”, such discipline would have been far too lenient for this type of deception. The greater penalty might have been recommended by the review panel out of pique, because of Adkins’ stubborness, as opposed to the gravity of the offense. According to the Daily Report article, bar counsel “could not be reached to confirm the Bar’s plea offer. Senior Assistant General Counsel Jenny K. Mittelman said they could not discuss the case while Adkins still had time to ask the court to reconsider.” I don’t know if the inadequate sanction had been offered, but I hope not.
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