Monday, August 25, 2008

I Hear That Change in Your Pocket Going Ching-A-Ling-A-Ling

Post 47

Over the last week it looks like Obama regained control in the state of Colorado. McCain, however, then took control of Indiana while reinforcing his ground in Ohio. McCain also gained ground, though did not take the lead, in both New Mexico and New Hampshire. If New Hampshire switched, with all other states remaining the same, then we would have a 269-269 tie. The overall outlook nationally is +1.8 points for Obama.


So, I had been planning on making this entry about Biden being chosen as Obama's running mate but decided to trump Lisa over at GCJ with this story today. Biden SHOULD be up by this coming Wednesday. Enjoy

So, I was looking through the AP Wire on my IPhone on Saturday and came upon a funny story in the local news section of it; it appears as though a court in Ohio refused to accept a 'heavy fine payment'. The fine payment happens to be for speeding tickets and is being paid for in pennies. Now, after I stopped laughing and cleaned up everything I threw around when convulsing I started to think about this. I think that there are several things wrong with the court not accepting this payment. Amongst them, the three most prevalent are: You were not specific - This is legal tender - Your precedent sucks. Frankly, I think that the court should be required to accept this mans payment, or, deny taking it but count it as being paid. I really have nothing that grinds my gears to end this paragraph though... damn.

You Were Not Specific:
When a court makes an order of any sort they are usually quite specific. If they are asking for property back they will ask for specific property - you stole a Pentium 4 (ick) computer with 2 gig ram and Vista they expect a Pentium 4 (ick) computer with 2 gig ram and Vista returned. Courts rarely leave this sort of thing up in the air. If a court asks for payment in cash, credit, or check then they should expect payment in cash, credit, or check. If the court just asks for payment in anything they should expect payment in anything. This is the fundamental problem of this decision to avoid accepting the payment; the court was not specific enough. Unless they ordered the payment to be specific they have NO RIGHT to require it to change AFTER THE FACT. Hopefully the court learned from this mistake.

This Is Legal Tender:
If the defendant had come in and paid with Canadian Pennies or Euros the court would have had the right, no, the duty, to refuse his payment (though why they would, when those are worth more, is unknown). However, the man came in and paid his fees with what is considered legal tender in the United States. In fact, the Coinage act of 1965 says:

“United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.”

To me, this clearly shows that these pennies should have been accepted by the court. Now, I understand the courts position; they are saying that there is an unfair undue burden on the court now due to this. However, I also can see that all they need to do is take the pennies to the bank, have them weighed, and then have them converted (for free) into real monies. Unless the court is trying to say that they have the right to determine federal law in currency, they should accept all legal tender.

Your Precedent Sucks:
While discussing this case with Lisa from GCJ she sent me a link to some precedent that the court could use to defend itself. In _State v. Carroll_, 1997 WL 118064 (Ohio App. 4 Dist.), the courts ruled that:

“"It defies logic and common sense that this Congress intended such a wooden and broad application of the statute beyond the control of the payee regardless of the circumstances." [At 4-5] The Court reasoned that under the law authorizing the clerk to collect and issue receipts for the payment of fines, etc., the clerk could "provide a reasonable procedure for the place, time and manner of accepting fines consistent with the efficient operation of the clerk's office."”

The problem with this ruling is that it uses no case law from before and actually overrides several cases in other states. I understand the concept of a reasonable procedure for time place and manner but can not understand how pennies fit any of these three categories. You can close shop at 5 and open at 9, you can say it needs to be sent to a certain address, and you can even say that it should be paid in certain coins - BUT, unless you say that in the order, you have NO RIGHT to change your mind AFTER THE FACT. I don't care if an earlier court said that you could, this is illogical and a gross overstepping of the courts bounds.

This decision throws common sense out the window as it allows the courts to change their orders on the whim of the judges and secretaries. It also creates precedent that allows the courts to challenge FEDERAL STATUTES THAT ARE FEDERAL ONLY.

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Robert M. Barga,
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LisaRenee said...

I thought it was interesting that there even was a legal precedence on this story. It's clear that in that situation and in this one that the reason the person decided to pay in the manner they did was because they were making a statement.

Not only meeting the requirements of the fine, but also utilizing what they felt was their right to free speech by letting the court system know that they were not happy with them.

One wonders what would happen if a person wrote out 5,000 checks for one penny or something similar. Would the form of payment be refused?

I couldn't help wondering what will happen now, if they have refused his payment, is he now in contempt of court for not making the payment? He attempted to make it. So it will be an interesting story to follow.

Ben said...

Win 2 out of 3 - NM, NV, CO, you are probably President. Obama is probably ever so slightly ahead in CO right now...NV same for McCain. NM a a few to Obama. Colorado could be determined by the convention.

Ben said...

I would also add McCain has a better chance to win NH than most people think right now, though Obama is prob a slight favorite right now.

LisaRenee said...

Maggie wrote over on GCJ that there is some federal statute that allows the refusal of pennies for payments over $25.00.

Barga said...

Lisa Pot 1--

The precedent actually contradicts a federal appealls court ruling in texas, a higher up court, but not in the right district...

I agree that it is political speech (though absurd at that)

Well, he would be charged the .25$ a check (most backs charge this) so the pennies mailed at 14.50$ makes more sense. However, I would love to see that one in court too...

They will probably charge him in contempt for disrespect to the court AND for failure to pay, i want to see this and see him win...

Barga said...


I think that Obama will get a bump from the convention, but as his lead in CO has been falling i think he will end uip losing the state... Obama is winning by .6 in CO right now whereas McCain has 4 in NV.

NH will probably be McCain if he takes either Lieberman (i hope) or a chick (can Lieberman count as both?)

Also, any comment on the pennies?

Barga said...

Lisa post 2 -

I will comment over on your site at the end of my lunch break (my stomach is a growling)

Ben said...

There arent a lot of plausible scenarios where NH would make a difference......only really if Obama wins Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and McCain wins NH does it matter. That prob wont happen.

Barga said...

I already posted how NH matters. Frankly, the fact that it can give a win or a tie in what now looks like a likely situation means a lot

Ben said...

It can force a tie. There are scenarios where it will matter, but none seem to likely to me....


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