Judge, prosecutor spar over fate of 2,300 Louisville traffic cas - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge, prosecutor spar over fate of 2,300 Louisville traffic cases

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Since a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling in June, traffic violators in Louisville have been able to complete an online program run by the county attorney and get their case dismissed without having to pay court costs.

Except, that is, for those citizens whose traffic cases have ended up in Jefferson District Court Judge Sean Delahanty’s court.

Delahanty is among a group of judges who have opposed the traffic program, arguing the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office has no right to dismiss charges without court costs being applied.

While the high court dismissed a lawsuit filed by another district judge challenging the program in June, Delahanty has postponed 2,300 traffic program cases in his court until November 17. He is the only judge who has not allowing cases involved in the program to be dismissed. 

This week, Delahanty scheduled five of those traffic cases to be heard in front of him on Thursday. The county has requested that all 2,300 of the traffic cases be dismissed because defendants have completed the traffic program.

In an e-mail to the county attorney’s office on Tuesday, Delahanty said any order he issues on Thursday will apply to all 2,300 cases.

But the county attorney’s office has objected, claiming in a motion filed Tuesday that it is unlawful for Delahanty to take a “one size fits all” approach to each of the pending traffic cases.

County Attorney Mike O’Connell also argues that the Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of the traffic program and earlier this month refused to reconsider the case.

Delahanty had postponed ruling on the 2,300 traffic cases to wait and see if the high court would take another look, O’Connell said in the motion.

“That wait is over,” O’Connell wrote. “Accordingly, the cases held in abeyance by this court should be docketed immediately for dismissal on the government’s motion.”

The county attorney’s office asked Delahanty to dismiss the 2,300 cases in its motion Tuesday.

“There is no reason for delay,” the motion concluded.

In an interview, Delahanty said, however, that there are "other things to discuss."

He declined to specify but said the hearing would go on Thursday whether O'Connell "likes it or not.

"He's been invited. If he doesn't want to show up, that's fine," Delahanty said.

The five traffic cases are set to be heard Thursday at 3 p.m.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the lawsuit, originally filed by then-District Judge Ann Bailey Smith, was moot because the Kentucky General Assembly amended state law allowing drivers to pay a program fee instead of court costs.

Smith had refused to dismiss citations against about 100 drivers, claiming in part that the county attorney's office had no right to dismiss charges without the defendants paying court costs.

O'Connell is one of at least 60 county prosecutors who have launched traffic schools to raise revenue for their offices. The money is distributed to several recipients, including the county clerk,

Drivers charged in Jefferson County with any of 17 moving violations can pay $179 to take a two-hour, online class and get their citation dismissed.

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