Traffic court to be re-instated next month

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N.C. Supreme Court case still pending

By Caroline Curran, Reporter

BOLIVIA—After more than four months on hold, administrative traffic court is set to resume next month.

According to District Attorney Jon David, he and Chief District Judge Jerry Jolly have come to a resolution on administrative traffic court, which hasn’t taken place since April 15, when Jolly issued an administrative order halting the court.

Jolly stopped the court because the man who runs the driving school element of the program contributed to David’s 2010 campaign for district attorney.

Traffic court is set to resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7.

“Last week, Judge Jerry Jolly and I met to discuss implementation of the new statewide law requiring that infraction courts be put in place no later than Oct. 1, 2011,” David said in a press release Thursday afternoon.

“Together we were able to come to a consensus regarding the best way to reintegrate this worthy program back into our criminal justice system,” David said.

While the two came to a resolution on the matter, and court is set to resume next month, David said the matter is still pending in the North Carolina Supreme Court, limiting his comments on the matter.

In his brief, filed in N.C. Supreme Court last month, David argues neither a superior court judge nor a district court judge has the authority to investigate the conduct of an elected district attorney.

“The initial issue is what authority a district or superior court judge has to investigate the conduct of the elected district attorney. Neither the Constitution of North Carolina nor Chapter 7A of the General Statues authorizes a superior or district court judge to initiate an investigation into an elected district attorney,” David writes.

David also argues a chief district judge, in this case Jolly, does not have the authority to abolish a program such as administrative traffic court. He also goes on to argue Jolly exceeded his authority “by dictating to the district attorney the conditions for reducing a charge,” and “when he ordered ex parte that all law enforcement agencies calendar their cases in a particular manner.”

David then claims proper procedures were not followed in issuing the order and underlying facts and statements contained in the order were “erroneous.”

Jolly has until Aug. 31 to respond. He had not filed a response at press time Tuesday.

The administrative order

Jolly’s April administrative order called David’s traffic court program a “scheme.”

David’s changes in traffic court, among other changes, allows certain defendants charged with speeding violation to attend either a four-hour or eight-hour driving class to receive a plea for a lesser offense at the DA’s discretion.

But the order claims the classes were to be taken exclusively with Street Safe, a private for-profit company—the principle of which is Darrel Douglas, a financial contributor to David’s campaign.

According to information included in the administrative order, Douglas made two contributions to David’s 2010 campaign, one donation of $250 and another of $242.45, both in February 2010.

But according to campaign finance reports filed with the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Douglas made the $250 donation, but the Feb. 17, 2010, line item for $242.45 is listed as a “business donation refund.” State campaign finance reports do not state what business was refunded.

Campaign finance law allows an individual to donate up to $4,000 per election cycle to any one candidate.

“Based on the above findings, the undersigned Judge concludes that the scheme by District Attorney Jon David in profiting Darrell Douglas, a financial contributor to District Attorney Jon David’s 2010 election campaign, is a gross impropriety or at a minimum gives the appearance of a gross impropriety and brings the criminal justice system into disrepute,” the order states.

“Moreover, the District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District will not be a party to the scheme of the District Attorney Jon David and will not tolerate District Attorney Jon David financially profiting one of his financial contributors.”

The order further instructs all law enforcement officers to write all traffic citations directing defendants to regular sessions of criminal court, not David’s traffic court.

The law enforcement community immediately threw its support behind David and traffic court, saying it was a necessity in an over-crowded court system.

On Monday, Aug. 21, for example, there were 746 cases on the District Court docket.