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Challenging the status quo must run in the family. Yale Kozinski, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge’s son, recently took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, displaying a precociousness he either inherited from his father, Alex, or his mother, Marcy Tiffany, the former general counsel of Hughes Electronics Corp. who took her son’s case all the way to the top. Unfortunately, the Court denied certiorari. The 19-year-old challenged the California courts’ practice of having Superior Court judges double as prosecutors when people contest their tickets. “The case started with a jaywalking ticket that he felt was not fair and not right, and he decided he was going to contest it,” Tiffany said. First a judge asked him to post $77 bond before going to trial, which the younger Kozinski thought curious since his ticket was for exactly that amount. “It really isn’t bail. What it is, is you pay the ticket,” Tiffany said. That practice actually led to a federal class action handled by another lawyer, with Kozinski prevailing and the Los Angeles county courts agreeing to hold bond hearings for those who request it. “They got some attorneys’ fees and a nice little settlement,” Tiffany said. But the case the Supreme Court denied, Kozinski v. California, 01-375, was about the practice of using judges to prosecute even jaywalking tickets, which means the judge will both call witnesses and draw conclusions. “He raised an objection and was ignored,” Tiffany said. Tiffany said the issue is important because in California there is a criminal element in even low-level tickets. If not paid, a court can issue a warrant and the offender can be arrested. Not all states’ courts have similar practices. “Some do, some don’t,” Tiffany said. However, Kozinski is still looking for a court to agree with him. The case is over, and Kozinski is back to pursuing other interests. There is a lesson in Kozinski’s case, Tiffany implied, pointing to a recent case in San Francisco where a man recently prevailed in a three-year legal battle against San Francisco police, who were forced to admit that they had issued a jaywalking ticket without knowing the letter of the law. “That’s the thing that’s going to happen because nobody is looking at it,” Tiffany said.

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