Kentucky Judge Says Attorney’s Traffic School Can’t Dismiss 2,300 Cases

October 2, 2015

 

A Kentucky district court judge is challenging a county attorney’s revenue-generating traffic school in the state.

Kentucky news outlets report Judge Sean Delahanty is opposed to the operation of Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell’s traffic school which allows Louisville traffic violators to get their cases dismissed without having to pay court costs. The school, called Drive Safe Louisville, generates revenue to operate the county attorney’s office.

Delahanty has declined to dismiss charges against roughly 2,300 defendants who have graduated from the program, arguing the county attorney’s office has no right to dismiss charges without court costs also being applied.

According to reports, when the traffic program started, then-District Judge Ann Bailey Smith also declined to dismiss citations against motorists who completed the program, saying they must also pay court costs of $134. A state Supreme Court ruling filed in June, however, said Smith’s objections were rendered moot and allowed drivers to get their citations dismissed if they pay a fee and take O’Connell’s online program. The court dismissed an appeal by Smith last week.

Despite the court’s ruling, Delahanty set a Thursday hearing for five representative defendants, news outlets report. Delahanty said any order he issues will apply to all 2,300 cases that ended up in his court.

O’Connell said in court papers that the charges against all 2,300 should be dismissed based on the state Supreme Court’s ruling and added that Delahanty has no legal grounds for “cherry picking” five representatives.

According to reports, in the first 18 months of operation, 17,557 drivers completed O’Connell’s program, which generated about $2.6 million. About $1.3 million went to the county attorney’s office. The rest goes to a contractor that runs the program and to nine recipients including the state and local governments to fund local jails and other programs.

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