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ONLY THE PROSECUTOR CAN PLEA BARGAIN TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS. JUDGES THAT TRY TO INFLUENCE OTHER JUDGES ON TRAFFIC TICKETS OR REDUCE TRAFFIC TICKETS WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE PROSECUTOR CAN BE REMOVED FROM THEIR POSITION AS A JUDGE. [Matter of Reedy, 64 N.Y

In New York, unless your traffic ticket is returnable to the Traffic Violations Bureau, you will most likely be offered a chance for you or your traffic court attorney to conference your ticket with the prosecutor. At this conference the prosecutor usually offers to reduce the charge to something with less points in return for you agreeing to waive your right to trial. Most times the prosecutor on a traffic ticket is the officer who issued the ticket or another officer from the same police agency. However, the New York State Police have an internal policy forbidding state troopers from plea bargaining tickets they issue. Therefore, many towns, villages and cities have hired “special” prosecutors to prosecute tickets issued by state troopers. These “special” prosecutors are not bound by the New York State Police “no plea” policy.
One individual who is absolutely not allowed to unilaterally reduce a traffic infraction or enter into plea negotiations with the defendant is the judge. A judge is not allowed to plea bargain even if you are charged with a criminal offense. In Matter of Reedy, the son of Justice James H. Reedy received a speeding ticket returnable to J. Reedy’s court. Following correct protocol, J. Reedy recused himself from the case and asked a judge in a neighboring jurisdiction to accept the transfer of the case. At that point J. Reedy should have taken no further action. He should have taken the steps necessary to transfer his son’s speeding ticket case to a neighboring jurisdiction and let that jurisdiction proceed as they would with any other speeding ticket.
However, J. Reedy contacted the other judge, told him that his son was represented by an attorney and that an Assistant District Attorney had offered to reduce the speeding charge to VTL 1202(a)(1) which is a no point parking type violation. The other judge agreed to the plea bargain offer and indicated the fine would be $25.00.
At the request of J. Reedy, the other judge picked up the ticket and the fine money from J. Reedy’s home. The ticket had been signed on the back by J. Reedy’s son. The reference to the speeding violation [VTL 1180(d)] had been crossed out and “VTL 1202-A1” had been hand written in the space provided for the judge to indicate what charge the defendant was ultimately convicted of. Id at 301.
It was later learned that the state trooper who issued the ticket did not make the changes on the ticket nor did he consent to the reduction. Id at 302 (Note: In 1985 when this case occurred, state troopers did routinely prosecute and plea-bargain the tickets they issued. Only recently did the state police start enforcing their “no-plea” policy.).
Judge Reedy was ultimately found to have engaged in “ticket fixing” by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Commission recommended his removal from the bench. The New York Court of Appeals accepted the Commission’s removal determination noting that the state trooper never authorized or agreed to the reduction. The Court of Appeals determined that “Ticket-fixing is misconduct of such gravity as to warrant removal . . .” Id.
If you have been issued a traffic ticket for any traffic related offense (speeding, red light, stop sign, etc) anywhere in New York state, you should consider hiring attorneys experienced with plea bargaining and defending such charges. Feel free to contact us for a free telephone consultation at 1-877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at www.DrSummons.com.