Photo by John Han.
This is the third, and for now, the final round of the Taxi Driver Vs. the DPT. The Superior Court recognized the hardship and unfair conditions of the taxi worker and dismissed my ticket, first issued in late 2010. Here's how it went down…
I had a court date scheduled at the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. last Friday morning, April 15th. I brought an arsenal of paperwork because I thought that I would have to make a case before the traffic court the same way I had tried, but failed, with the hearing officer at the MTA. I brought a copy of …
1) The ticket.
2) My original letter requesting the SFMTA for administrative review, and then for in person meeting with an MTA hearing officer.
3) The copies of the MTA’s subsequent responses denying my requests for dismissal.
4) A copy of the Transportation Code saying that taxis be considered public transit. SEC. 8A.115 – Transit First Policy
7) Photographs along the Embarcadero where the ticket was issued.
It turned out none of that was necessary, even though I’m glad I went through the trouble to organize it. I had to wait about 35-40 minutes in the courtroom before it was my turn to go before the commissioner. But when I finally did get to the commissioner, I had just enough time to say "hello" before he said, (paraphrasing), “I'm dismissing the ticket. I’ve looked at all the information on the ticket and at everything you wrote. You’ve paid $90 already and the money will be refunded to you. You’ve also paid a $25 filing fee for this court date and that will be refunded to you.”
He tore off a piece paper and gave it to me, and said to hold on to it until I get my refund, and that was it. The court commissioner, the clerk, and even the police officer that I guess is like the court bailiff, were courteous and professional. They made me feel like I was actually in a "hall of JUSTICE". I left with the impression that the State’s courts can have a realistic view of what is fair and unfair, and that they were there to administer the law... nothing else. I'm sorry that I can't say the same thing for the way it previously went down with the MTA's hearing officer. That was a nightmare. That's just been my experience. I hope others have had better.
Meanwhile, there was another “Blocking the Bike Lane” ticket I had gotten around the same time in late 2010 and was supposed to contest as well. I lost that one on a technicality that was my own fault and had to pay $105. That’s because I had gotten my dates mixed up on when the deadline was to have an in person meeting with the MTA's hearing officer. Thinking I had an extra week to make a hearing, I showed up at the SFMTA office a week after the actual deadline. There was no chance to reschedule. Won one, lost one.