By Martin Hill
Two California Highway Patrol officers in Southern California have been caught on video trying their best to intimidate, threaten and coerce a woman to give up her rights while issuing her a traffic citation. While being issued the citation, the woman did not discuss the merits of the charge and never refused to sign the citation- she merely invoked, as is all motorist's right, what is very clearly outlined in the California Vehicle Code, Section 40502 (b).
As CA law clearly states as outlined by the State legislature and on the Department of Motor Vehicle website,
V C Section 40502 Place to AppearThe point of contention between the woman and the officers was simply that she has a right to demand to appear at the County Seat, but the two traffic cops didn't agree. The primary officer, L. Harris (ID No. 14858), as well as his supervisor (pictured below) insisted that it was soley up to their discretion, which State Courts have clearly stated is not the case. They threatened to arrest the woman numerous times as well as screamed at her in rage and made her get out of her vehicle and sit on the cement. They also were not familiar with CVC 40502(b). In addition, the cops did not like being filmed. In a failed attempt to intimidate the videographer, Harris snarled "you can turn the camera off too", as well as instructing the driver to "tell your friend to get that camera out of my face," when the camera was actually nowhere near his face. He attempted this despite the fact that numerous Federal Courts and even the U.S. Supreme Court, in additon to the U.S. Department of Justice have clearly and repeatedly affirmed that filming police is an inherent right in America. Harris then told the passenger, who never said one word to him, to "stay out of this, it's none of your business" before slamming the vehicle door in anger. Within literally 40 seconds of the supervisor arriving on the scene, the unhinged boy-in-blue lost complete control and began screaming at the woman in a fury.
40502. The place specified in the notice to appear shall be any of the following:
(b) Upon demand of the person arrested, before a judge or other magistrate having jurisdiction of the offense at the county seat of the county in which the offense is alleged to have been committed. This subdivision applies only if the person arrested resides, or the person's principal place of employment is located, closer to the county seat than to the magistrate nearest or most accessible to the place where the arrest is made.
The larger point of this video, regardless of where one lives or what their traffic laws are, is that if you know your rights and properly assert them with relentless determination, you can win. As the shortened-version videoreveals, after detaining the driver for nearly 40 minutes while arguing, shouting at and threatening her, the two jackboot cops finally gave in and gave her the County Seat. That didn't have to be so difficult now, did it?
As the excellent free website helpigotaticket.com explains,
Change of Venue
"In California if you live or work closer to the county seat than to the court which would normally have jurisdiction, you may demand a change of venue to the county seat per California Vehicle Code section 40502(b).
"The ideal time to make the demand is before the officer writes the ticket, but you may legally make the demand any time before signing the ticket. (When an LA County deputy refused to give Geo. McCalip a change of venue, Geo. signed the ticket, "40502(b) Under Protest Geo. McCalip." This forced the judge in Compton to reassign the case to LA Metro (downtown LA), where the case was dismissed at arraignment).Case law precedent in California states even more strongly, in case there be any doubt, that officers have no discretion in the matter and that the motorist's demand for the County Seat is precisely that. It simply can't get any clearer than this, proving once again that the officers are not law enforcement agents, but rather revenue agents with disdain for the law and hatred for law-abiding people who dare to question their so-called "authority.":
"The court has held that once you make the demand, if you meet the residency or employment qualification, the jurisdiction shifts to the court at the county seat ( Smith v. Glendale Municipal Court, 167 CalApp2d 534)."
Smith v. Municipal Court, 167 Cal.App.2d 534 [Civ. No. 23349. Second Dist., Div. One. Feb. 3, 1959.] states, in part:
"We are of the opinion that it was the intent of the Legislature to permit the person arrested upon a charge such as that involved here to designate the place at which he should [167 Cal.App.2d 538] appear and be tried. The section requires the officer to specify in the notice or citation the place at which the person shall appear and provides that this place shall be either before the nearest or most accessible magistrate within the county with reference to the place where the arrest is made or upon demand of the person arrested, before a magistrate in the county seat...
"...Inasmuch as paragraph (c) (2) of the section provides for a demand on the part of the person arrested, we must assume that the Legislature intended the word "demand" to have its ordinary meaning and the import which that meaning gives to the statute.
"...If he has a right to demand that as something due him, that right cannot be denied him at the discretion of the arresting officer.....
"...for if the arresting officer may disregard the demand of the arrestee the right to make the demand becomes meaningless.
"We hold therefore, that the arresting officer was upon the demand of petitioner required to specify the municipal court at the county seat as the place where petitioner should appear
"...We find no merit in this [the prosecution's] contention, for to uphold it would permit the arresting officer to violate his duty to respect the demand of the person arrested as to the place of appearance and by his violation defeat the rights of the arrestee under the section. The arrested person, unless he resists arrest, has no means of asserting his rights under said section 739 except to do as petitioner [167 Cal.App.2d 541] did here, immediately demand that the hearing on the charge against him be transferred to the county seat in accordance with his demand to the arresting officer."