haven't already done so, please read the West Hollywood section on the Camera
West Hollywood Chronology 2002 - 2004
The Beverly Hills courtroom which was the scene of some of
City's detoured trials (Oct. 2002), is also the regular venue for
both the City of West Hollywood and the City of Beverly Hills' red
light camera tickets. Trials of the WeHo tickets are held on
Thursday mornings. I attended for my first time on Oct. 24, 2002.
On that morning one West Hollywood defendant demonstrated to Comm.
Hugh Bobys (retired as of 2004) that the yellow at one intersection
was too short, and Comm. Bobys let him go - not guilty! The judge
also said something about asking the DA to have the signals
adjusted. On Nov. 11 the City provided me with copies of their
signal timing charts, and those charts did not reflect any recent
lengthening of the yellows. Perhaps it was done shortly after the
charts were copied for me. City Prosecutor Lisa A. Vidra (who
is Culver City's prosecutor) has assured me that the signals have
been adjusted. But in West Hollywood it's easy to find out what
yellow interval is - the camera system used there actually imprints
the programmed yellow time right on the ticket.
Added 6-12-03, updated 6-16-03:
On June 12 a Los Angeles Times
article announced that Comm. Bobys had dismissed a number of West
Hollywood tickets, because of the yellow being too short (June 12,
But later on the same
day the article was published, Comm. Bobys heard a 40-minute
argument by the City's red light prosecutor (William Litvak, whose
firm fills that position for a number of cities) which convinced
him to reverse himself, and not dismiss any more tickets because
the yellow is too short. Comm. Bobys
"As I said
I looked at the CalTrans manual myself, last year, on the
Internet. It was quite clear to me that the duration set by
the CalTrans standard was 3.5 seconds in a 35 mile-an-hour
zone. It's beyond me how one is expected to
comply with a manual which you can't find out what it actually
says. Or it's very difficult to do so. No continuances
for rulings on traffic tickets. I'm not going to take this
under submission. I've already given it a great deal of
thought. I do agree with Mr. Litvak's argument. I am
going to accept the argument that actually 3.0 seconds is the
minimum below which the Legislature intended as a floor below which
the traffic departments of the various cities could not go. I
might be wrong. If you feel like you would like to appeal my
decision Mr. Ramirez, I would have no quarrel. I am persuaded
by Mr. Litvak's arguments as to substantial compliance, the
intention - there's certainly no bad faith. I am truly
concerned what the impact would be. I think he's right.
I don't think the legislature wanted to take over the business of
micromanaging traffic flow throughout the State of
official audio tape of June 12 hearing. For a lengthy WeHo
trial transcript, see the link in WeHo - More, below.)
(During his long appearance
before Comm. Bobys, Prosecutor Litvak cited at least 11 document
exhibits as the foundation for his arguments as to the
legislature's intent, etc. A couple days later I asked
the court if I could look at the exhibits, and was told that they
had not been retained - they had been returned to Mr.
In another article the following day, The Times wrote:
"But West Hollywood officials
say they have no intention of reviewing closed cases and refunding
fines, which they estimate would cost about $4
million." (Times, June 13, page B4.)
Although the article didn't say as much, City officials may
have wanted us to assume that the City could not afford to make
Their actual bank balance sheets say otherwise.
The City of West Hollywood is rich, and
rapidly getting richer.
The scans above are from City Treasurer's reports, a public
document. In case the images are not clear enough for
you to read, the figures are:
July 2002: $31,906,455
Apr. 2003: $48,587,510
June 16, 17 and 19, 2003,
At the Courthouse
On June 16 and 17, I observed one morning and two afternoon
sessions, but not including any 'not guilty' trials of WeHo tickets
(which are held on Thursday mornings). I plan to observe some
of those in the near future.
During my visit to the courthouse, I talked to a lot of
defendants and many of them showed me their tickets.
The first thing I noticed was that you can't read the numbers on
the tickets that WeHo mails to defendants. The very critical
tenths digit is a smaller font size, so no one could tell for sure
how late they were after the red, or how long the yellow was.
The tenths digits were not legible on any ticket I saw - and we
looked at them in good sunlight, with as many as two pairs of
reading glasses at once! A
sample ticket posted by the West Hollywood
illustrates the illegibility
I also noticed that many of Comm. Bobys' policies are different
from those of Comm. Amado of Culver City, whose court I have
attended a lot.
If you ask for extra time to pay the fine, Comm. Bobys will give
you a few months, whereas Comm. Amado will allow you 11 or 12
months. Comm. Bobys allows 'second offender' (12-hour)
traffic school, Comm. Amado does not. If you ask for
Community Service, it is 47 hours in Comm. Bobys' court, versus 51
in Comm. Amado's. That difference is probably due to the
hourly wage being higher in Beverly Hills. I also noticed that in
Comm. Bobys' courtroom
they do not play a City-produced red light camera video prior to
the trials, as they do in Culver City.
Comm. Bobys has on his bench (as does Comm. Amado) a computer terminal
linked directly to the company that issues and archives the
tickets. The terminal gives him instant access to the
company's digital copies of ticket photos. At arraignment,
when a defendant tells him "It's not me," he is often able to
dismiss the ticket "on the spot."
I attended the June 19 trial session for West Hollywood tickets,
and purchased a copy of the official tape of that session
The first part of the tape has now been transcribed, and is
It is a good way to find out how an actual trial goes.
June 27, 2003: The "WeHo" Amendment !
On July 8 the author of Assembly Bill 1022 amended it in
an attempt to clarify that CalTrans' minimum yellows must be
complied with. Unfortunately, such an amendment will have
little effect, as
"Truth in Evidence"
will prevail. See the Action page.
2004: New Judge in WeHo
Comm. Bobys has retired. The new judge is the Hon. Julius M.
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