Please take a moment to read of my situation. It began with a ticket for speeding in Aurora, Oregon. The over zealous police officer cited me for a speed greater than I was going as sworn by witness and as stated by the officer when writing the ticket. I presented evidence to the Judge, Judge Janice Zyryanoff, and she felt compelled to make the following deal: Go 6 months without any further citations and this situation will go away as if it never happened. But in the event there is another citation, there would be a fine of $130 associated with this ticket.
I thanked the Judge for her time and went to the back of the courtroom where I spoke with two court clerks. The court clerks told me that I was not to pay the $130.
If there was to be a fine, would I not have been asked to pay that day?
Six months went by without further citations. I get a letter from the Aurora court saying that NOW I owe $130. If the fine was to be enforced, why would it not be enforced when I attended court? The court clerk now tells me that she does not understand why the fine was not collected the day of court. She said that it does not matter what was said or done during the day of court. Pay the $130 or get a suspended license.
I explained that the two court clerks and myself heard the judge to say there would be no fine if I had no citations during the next 6 months. In contrast to what the court clerks said on the day of court, the court clerk now tells me that we all must have misunderstood the Judge. She told me that she spoke for the Judge and that it would be inappropriate for me to contact the Judge asking for clarification. This clerk also told me that she would intercept any mail I sent to Judge because the Judge paid her to run the office and did not need this kind of disturbance.
The clerk felt she understood the judgment 6 months after said decree better than those of us attending court that day. She refused to allow me an audience with the Judge for clarification. She has repeated a number of times that I must pay or have a suspended license.
I do not understand how the punishment can change after 6 months. I do not understand why I would not be required to pay the fine the day of court instead of waiting 6 months. I asked for court transcripts but was told that is not done in Aurora so there are no records of what was said. The clerk now says she does not care what was said because everyone must have misunderstood.
Imagine being told one thing on the day of court and then 6 months later being told the deal has changed. This is not in keeping with what Judge Zyryanoff wrote in the 2000 voter pamphlet:
“Being a Justice of the Peace requires the skill to treat people with respect while maintaining the dignity of the courtroom and enforcing the laws of the State of Oregon. This traffic court is usually the general public’s only contact with the judicial system. If you should have to appear in traffic court that experience should make you feel that you were treated fairly and with consideration. Justices of the Peace serving their local communities should be accessible to all people who have business before the court. Each individual needs to be treated equally and fairly before the law. …”
My experience with the Aurora Court in February 2010 was more in line with what was written in the 2000 voter pamphlet. My experience recently is that the court does not care what the two Court clerks said 6 months ago. The Court said there was no fine imposed 6 months ago but now they have changed their minds (different clerk) and that now a fine must be imposed. To prevent others from experiencing this, how do we mandate the Aurora Courts transcribe their court cases? This is more about principle than the $130. A court should not be able to say everything goes away in 6 months and then 6 months later, change their minds and threaten a citizen – pay or we suspend your license.
I realize that I am facing a “stacked deck” and this court clerk who now threatens to suspend my license holds all the cards. There are no court transcripts to prove my case. She would not tell me who the two court clerks are who said there was no fine to pay. But I think it is important that the Aurora traffic court begin to transcribe future court cases so they are not so likely to repeat this behavior to others. This should be illegal in my opinion, to change the verdict 6 months after original verdict.
I am proceeding to pay the $130 because I want to avoid a suspended license. I feel as though I have been blackmailed and bullied by the Aurora court clerk. Would the original court clerks who attended the court case with me remember and be able to testify that there was no fine imposed that day? If we had transcripts, we could easily prove that the current court clerk is doing something wrong.