If you come to court to fight a traffic ticket in Atlanta, you’ll have to make a second trek back on another day. If you don’t fight it, you might have to wait. And wait. And wait. If you decide not to show up in court at all, you’ll most likely get away with it.
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The Municipal Court in 2012 dismissed 35 percent of the 165,212 cases before it.
60 percent were dismissed because of the pretrial intervention program
38 percent were dismissed by the judge based on evidence or testimony offered
2 percent were dismissed because the officer who cited the driver did not appear
The report by the city’s citizens’ advocate, Stephanie Ramage, makes a number of recommendations for improving the operation of Atlanta’s Municipal Court
• Holding night court, which would accommodate the work and child care schedules of drivers and all shifts of police officers.
•Provide for 24-hour verification of bench warrants issued against those who fail to appear in court, so officers making subsequent stops can verify that the warrants are still open.
• Collect fines from defendants just outside the courtrooms so they will not be tempted to leave the building without paying at the window in the lobby.
• Address problems with the inadequate, crash-prone computer system. It would cost about $2 million to replace it and $500,000 to patch it. Improvements could save a minute for each case, which would mean an hour for a court calendar with 60 cases.
• Consider a $10 technology fee to pay for upgrades and maintenance to the computer system used by the court, law enforcement and corrections.
• Expand the number of judges in Municipal Court to 12. There are only eight judges in the court now but one of them has announced he is retiring later this year.