Scottsdale Presiding Judge Will Consider Ticket Wording Change, But Disagrees Text "Lies"

Just got off the phone with Scottsdale Presiding Judge B. Monte Morgan about the wording of his court's photo-enforcement tickets, which we took issue with yesterday in this blog.

As we discussed previously, we think the wording on the summons makes it seem like ignoring the ticket will definitely result in a default judgment and suspension of your driver's license:

In addition, you will be subject to a default judgment, the assessment of a fine, surcharge and fees, and the suspension of your driver's license.

However, those drastic results can happen only once the ticket is deemed properly served under Arizona Supreme Court rules -- which Morgan freely acknowledges.

However, "you and I differ on the interpretation of the sentence," he explains.

In particular, the part where the ticket says "subject to" should be taken as an absolute, he says. In Morgan's view, the ticket does not imply the default judgment and other harsh penalties  will be "automatic" if the ticket is ignored.

We quibbled with him on this, pointing out that the ticket was brought to our attention by someone who believed just that -- that ignoring the ticket means a default judgment.

Proving that nothing in the legal field is simple, Morgan responds by saying "proper service" under the law could mean something other than a process server hand-delivering you the ticket. And that's where the wording of the summons can get tricky, he explains.

Take the example of someone who registers for a defensive driving class upon receiving the speed-camera ticket. That would be considered "service," Morgan says, and ignoring the ticket at that point would result in the default judgment. The court could mail the ticket in a registered letter, he adds, and signing in receipt of the letter could also constitute service.

Morgan asked New Times how we would word the ticket to take into account the range of possible consequences that could happen if the ticket is ignored. 

We suggested changing the wording to, "In addition, you could be subject to..."

Morgan says he'll bring up the question with other court staff members and at least consider a change.

And then the judge hits us with a sobering fact -- a Scottsdale motorcycle rider died last week after crashing into a car at more than 100 miles per hour.

"Speed is not something you play with," Morgan says. "You don't have to be concerned with photo enforcement if you follow the speed limit."

True words.

Unlike those on Scottsdale's tickets. -- Ray Stern