Fresno man claims rights violation after traffic ticket ruling

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno man says his rights are being violated a week after the state told Fresno and other counties to quit forcing people to pay penalties before fighting a traffic ticket.

Reggie DeLeon is more confused and frustrated than ever as he tries to figure out how to fight his traffic ticket. He was cited by Fresno police for using his cellphone while driving.

"When he wrote me the ticket, it was right off the bat I knew I was going come in to try to fight it," said DeLeon.

He showed Action News cellphone video he says he recorded Wednesday at Fresno Superior Court, where the clerk is heard telling DeLeon he will have to pay the bail amount before he can contest his ticket. DeLeon tried to tell the clerk that practice is banned.

"The gentleman behind the counter didn't want to hear it. That frustrated me even more because I knew they were wrong, and he was just brushing me off, like whatever. That's not the way you treat people," said DeLeon.

Just over a week ago, the state Judicial Council ordered Fresno and other counties to stop requiring drivers to pay before they can fight their traffic ticket.

"This is an impoverished city. People can't afford to fork out a couple hundred dollars in advance to contest something that they shouldn't have to pay up front," said DeLeon.

The state issued the rule effective June 8, after the American Civil Liberties Union pushed the issue, saying it's unfair to charge penalties before someone ever has the chance to prove their innocence.

"I mean it's frustrating, it's a new rule, and we expect courts to follow it, and we expect clerks to know the rules of court," attorney Marley Degner said.

The Fresno Superior Court told Action News clerks should not be requiring this type of payment. DeLeon refused to pay and will keep pushing he says for his day in court. He said, "I'd like to see the Fresno courthouse follow the rules."

DeLeon is also concerned other drivers were told the same thing, which is why he contacted Action News on Wednesday. The ACLU says in cases like this you can ask for a court supervisor or even request a hearing with a judge to clear up the matter.
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