Traffic ticket turns into three-year-long saga

HOUSTON We first told you about Nick Cooper one year ago after he was told, once again, that he would have to wait to show his evidence to the court. Cooper believes he knows the real reason for the delay.

Cooper believes he has spent more than 40 hours waiting around the courthouse trying to resolve that ticket. Although his ticket was finally dismissed, he believes all the hassles points to a serious problem with the courts.

When Nick Cooper got a ticket for driving the wrong way down a one-way street back in 2007, he was eager to show the courts his evidence.

He said, "I think it says nay, which would be good if there was a horse there I guess."

But after asking for a jury trial, never did he expect that would mean seven trips to the courthouse over a three-year period.

Cooper said, "You feel a lot of pressure that you should just give up."

Cooper's attorney believes the city is intentionally making it tough for defendants to get a trial, so that they'll end up paying their tickets. He says the problem was only made worse when the city instituted a policy of allowing officers to show up at 1pm while defendants still have to show up at 8am.

Attorney Randall Kallinen said, "I see this as basically a way for the city to force people by inconvenience to plead guilty and get more revenue."

City attorney David Feldman gave us this statement saying, "The city's goal is a speedy trial. … It is not out the ordinary for defendants and their attorneys to repeatedly request delays in the hopes that police officers will be unable to make a different date."

Traffic attorney Ralph Martinez doesn't buy that and blames scheduling for most of the problems.

He said, "It's a majority of time, 80 percent of the time, you're not going to be reached your first time."

And that, according to KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy, if true, is flat out wrong.

He said, "If they don't have the judicial resources and the court system to handle it, then they shouldn't be issuing tickets." Had Cooper paid his ticket, it would have likely cost him about $100. He believes he's spent that on gas alone, not to mention the loss of work each time he tried to get a jury trial.

We attempted numerous times to get a statement from the presiding judge of the municipal courts, Barbara Hartle, but we were told she was tied up in meetings.

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