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zemosman

Rights in a Mississippi court room

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I'm posting on here hoping someone can help me.  A few years ago I was pulled over in the early morning hours of a weekday for an expired tag.  I tried to explain to the officer that I had the money to pay to renew the tag, but since it was a month past due, he angrily wrote a ticket anyway and gave me less than two weeks to come up with $120.00.  I thought they were supposed to give you a month from the date they write the ticket to your court date?  Anyways, I got the day off from work and went up to the local court room to plead my case in front of the judge.  But, before I could be called in front of the judge, I was summoned to a window, with a counter, along with a few other people, and told they were pulling less serious cases such as mine to this place so they could go ahead and pay their fine.  I asked if I could see the judge,  I was told that I could not.  They basically, forced me to pay the fine.  This occurred at the city court room in Hattiesburg, MS in like 2010.  I have not have had an experience like this in any other courtroom that I have been in in the surrounding area.  I was recently pulled over for speeding in a school zone here in the city and given a warning by the officer who stopped me.  However, I was driving my girlfriend's car and while she normally has her proof of insurance in her glove box, which I am also on, trust on this day for it to be no where in sight.  I had a card in my wallet, but it was expired.  The truth is, our insurance is up to date, but because I could not provide the officer with an up to date copy of our insurance, he issued me a ticket for no insurance.  However, he told me that on the court date on the ticket, which is from over a month from now, that I only needed to show the judge that I did indeed have current insurance at the time I was issued the ticket and that usually the judge will dismiss it.  While I am familiar with this, here's my question:  If a repeat of what happened to me a few years ago happens again and they try to force me to pay my fine without seeing the judge first, can I protest it?  I mean, does one have the legal right to see a judge on their court date?  Or must they do whatever his staff says?  If they do have a right to see the judge on their court date and they refuse to get up and go pay their fine, can they be arrested?  What do I do if I am denied seeing the judge on my court date?  If anyone can help me on this I would most appreciate it.  Thanks.

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If you want us to guess what a judge might do a month from now, you are asking too much of a message board. You might inquire with the court where this case will be tried, what options you might have to resolve this before the court date. In some states, mailing in proof of insurance will get the case dismissed.

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Something doesn't sound right.  It's hard to believe that if you pleaded not guilty to the offense charged on the ticket that you would be, as you say "forced" to pay the fine without having an opportunity to appear before a judge.   Did you enter a plea of not guilty?  

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It wasn't like that goobolt.  On that day, the small group of people were not even allowed to see the judge to enter any sort of plea. The way the courtroom is set up you walk into the building and the first thing you see is a window with a counter on your right.  On your left is an open door way, where beyond it is the courtroom.  The judge was hearing cases that day and the courtroom was packed.  Suddenly, I along with at least six other people, were told to step out of the court room.  Then we were forced to pay. It was like they were overloaded with cases and simply wanted to go ahead and "allow" people to pay their fees to get them out of the way.  I was simply wondering if this practice is legal and if it isn't what can I legally do to either force court officials to allow me to see a judge so I can enter a plea of guilty or not guilty or do I have a choice at that point?  Do I have to do what they say and simply pay the fine without entering a plea in front of the judge?  ElleMD, I know where the court case is being held.  I guess I can call them and see if they'll allow me to simply mail in proof of insurance to see if they'll go ahead and dismiss the case?  But in my area of the state at least, as far as I know one is simply expected to wait to see the judge if one wants to see if they can get their case dismissed.  Which, kinda doesn't work if one isn't allowed to see the judge in the first place. sigh.  thank you both for your answers.  I will keep looking other places for answers.  I had considered hiring an attorney just as a way to be taken seriously in the court but at this point I'm not even sure I can afford that.

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In Mississippi, you must enter a not guilty plea in person on the date posted on your traffic ticket.  It cannot be entered by mail or over the phone.  After you enter your plea, the court will schedule a trial date.

 

When and how did you enter your not guilty plea?  

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I didn't.  I simply showed up the day of the trial.  Sat down in the courtroom.  Was pulled out of the courtroom by a female staff member and then had to pay my fine.  In other courtrooms I have been in in the state, I have had to wait until I was called up by the judge where I was asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.  Yet in this one instance I was not given the chance to even do that.  That is my complaint.  That is what I am wondering what I should do if the Hattiesburg court is not allowing some people to do.  What do I do if I am prohibited by court staff from entering in this plea?  If the city court holds like previous courts I have been in, such as the city court house in the early 2000s and the Petal courthouse in like 2006, I should be able to do this on my court date. 

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The traffic tickets issued by the Hattiesburg police department show only one date on them.  The date and time you are to appear in court.  There is no other date to enter a plea on.  The incident described above occurred February of 2010. 

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I didn't wade through all that, but I do grasp that you're referring to something from years ago.  Why?

 

And how were you "forced to pay".  :)  Was there a sheriff standing next to the court staffer with his hand on his gun?

 

That something is subject to a

"Do I have to do what they say and simply pay the fine without entering a plea in front of the judge?"

No.

 

"I guess I can call them and see if they'll allow me to simply mail in proof of insurance to see if they'll go ahead and dismiss the case?"

Why is there a question mark at the end of this?

 

"Which, kinda doesn't work if one isn't allowed to see the judge in the first place."

When you say "allowed", that's like using the word "forced".  You were free to say "uhm, no, I'm not moving and I'm not paying.  If you want to reschedule my appearance date, fine."

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