An experience with the municipal court system in Belleville New Jersey shows how time and tax money is wasted, and how a town mistreats its senior citizens
My father had always kept his car parked on the street in front of his house in Belleville, NJ. Not in front of anyone else’s house, mind you. His second car was kept in the garage. When I visited recently I noticed the old car in front of the house was gone. I asked him what happened to it, and being 82 years old, he said to me, “They towed it away, they said I donated it.” Of course, this is not what happened. Among some papers on his desk I found a parking ticket that read “abandoned motor vehicle.”
I called the chief of police who said neighbors had complained that the car was parked in front of the house (his house, not theirs, I remind you. I guess some people have nothing better to do than look out their windows and get into other people’s business). Then he said, “Well, the town has an ordinance that says a car can’t be parked in the same spot for 48 hours.” So I guess the cops in Belleville have too much time on their hands, being that they spent their time writing parking tickets to senior citizens. No wonder property taxes are so high in New Jersey. Too many cops doing nothing.
The chief said he was sent written warnings, about not moving the car. Well that isn’t true. They sent nothing, because I went through my father’s mail every day, and they never sent any warnings. Then the chief said, just go to court, and they’ll dismiss the ticket. (Okay…but then why did you write it in the first place?)
So I went to the impound lot and had the car hauled away for $300, which I had to give to the impound lot owners, for their towing fee. The car was still running, but since my mother wasn’t driving anymore, there was no need for my father to keep and maintain two cars. Then I scheduled a court date to contest the $260 abandoned motor vehicle ticket.
So I go to the municipal court in Belleville and meet with the prosecutor, who gives me a silly song and dance about how he can’t recommend dismissing the ticket, blah, blah, blah. Nevermind that my father lived in Belleville, his entire life as a law abiding citizen, and paid thousands of dollars in property taxes during the past 50 years. Nevermind that there was no written warnings about the car, and nevermind that he’s 82 and probably didn’t comprehend that there was some obscure ordinance about not leaving a car in the same spot for longer than 48 hours. (By the way, there were no marks on the tires when I found it at the impound lot, so the cops had no proof that the car was parked there for a certain amount of time).
Finally I stood up and said to the wormy prosecutor, “Forget it, I’m just going to pay the ticket and go to the media with my story, about how Belleville treats their senior citizens.” Of course, now the prosecutor says, “Don’t do that, we’ll call the cop and try to reach a settlement.”
So we go in front of the municipal court judge to ask for a new date, and this judge rambles on about nonsense…where’s your father, I don’t know if we can do this, blah, blah, blah. This from a guy, like all municipal court judges in New Jersey, has his own private law practice but moonlights on the side as a judge in order to get into the state pension system and milk the taxpayers for money. Finally he relents and we have a new court date, three weeks later.
So I go to court on the new date - and there’s a new prosecutor! I start to explain the situation, and after fifteen seconds he cuts me off with “I’m just going to ask the judge to dismiss this.” He hustles into the courtroom, I follow him, he asks the judge to dismiss the ticket, and the same judge from the three weeks prior, the one who grumbled and groaned about setting a new date for a conference, says, “This is a minor issue. Case dismissed.”
Wouldn’t it have made more sense just to dismiss the ticket the first time? Wouldn’t have made more sense for the cops to ask my father if there was anyone helping with things, and could you give them this warning letter about the car parked in front of the house? No. Instead these fools waste my time and tax money with their silly shenanigans. Political nonsense. Right wingers rage about too much government at the federal level, when the reality is there’s too much government at the local level. Anyone who writes a parking ticket to senior citizen for a car parked in front of his own house ought to be ashamed of himself. All the problems in the world, and this is what cops, prosecutors, and judges are spending their time and our tax money on? It’s a disgrace