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New project will hold anti-bike judges accountable

Posted by on July 12th, 2006 at 7:31 am

Portland bike lawyer Ray Thomas, a tireless defender of cyclist’s rights, is at it again.

His latest initiative is a grassroots project to bring accountability to the court system from the consumers of the system, those who appear in traffic court with bicycle related cases.

According to Thomas, the impetus of this initiative comes from accounts he has heard from citizens that judges are routinely impolite, disrespectful and have even blocked cyclists from submitting evidence in their own defense at trial. Here’s more from Thomas:

“My goal is to provide the bicycle community with knowledge of their rights and need to appeal bad legal results, complain about unfair judges, learn about citizen rights, and how to use grassroots activist skills to make the judicial system accountable to the citizens who use it.”

Thomas wants to collect courtroom experiences from cyclists and is looking for people willing to name names of judges who have interfered with their efforts to get a fair trial. He is working on a collection of materials that will serve as a citizen how-to guide on ways to make the judicial system responsive to citizen input.

If you have been treated unfairly during a bicycle related case, please consider sharing your experience in the comments or contact Ray Thomas directly at rthomas@stc-law.com.

You might remember that Thomas is the lawyer behind the campaign that helps cyclists bring motorists to justice in injury crash cases.

This step towards accountability in the courtroom is a necessary step in cyclist’s ongoing fight to be treated fairly in a system that is reluctant to recognize bicycles as a viable mode of transport deserving the same respect as motor vehicle operators.

Stay tuned for more developments on this project.

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    B July 12, 2006 at 11:47 am

    As much as I like and respect Ray Thomas for all his work on behalf of cyclists, I sharply disagree with this project. From what it sounds like, it’s asking cyclists to take names of judicial officials with whom they disagree or find fault in their practices on the bench and subject those judges to public demonization.

    If Ray’s purpose is for something other, I’d love to hear the guts of it; if it’s solely what he stated above, then I think that citizens should be directed to file their individual complaints and not add the names of judges to some sort of roster.

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    Matt P. July 12, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    “subject those judges to public demonization”

    I would say “subject those judges to public review.” Simply speaking, there are very limited avenues of recourse for “poor judgement”. The judical system is IMO inadequately reviewed and most citizens have no idea what grievance procedures there are against judges. Judges are people too, and while most of them make good calls most of the time, they’re human. They get divorced, people cut them off on the road, and they’re just as subject to being cranky due to heat, cold, hunger, lack of sleep, etc.

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    Matt G. July 12, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    I have to agree with “B” above. I hope there is more to this campaign than what is being reported. The most important issue I would take with this idea is that alienating judges is the last thing that Mr. Thomas would want to do. Everyone must understand that there is a certain amount of comraderee amongst judges (and indeed, in most professions), and even the “normal”, clear-thinking judges would give pause to this type of action, even if it’s not directed at them. Maybe there is more to this story, or perhaps it needs to be followed up so we understand what the full motives are.

    That said, more power to us as citizens in an equitable society! 🙂

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    bmc July 12, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    WOW, have any of you been to court and had to plead your case to a judge that decided you were “wrong” before you even spoke a word? Expensive, frustrating….
    Thanks Ray for helping cyclists in the courts!!
    I look forward to reading his tips to keep the scales level.

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    DV July 12, 2006 at 8:53 pm

    It is comforting to think court is this wonderful, perfect place where justice is served and what is right is what happens, but it is not the case.

    I am frequently called to court as an expert witness and there are judges who are wonderful, professional, appropriate, and judicious, and there are others who are biased, and have decided who they are in favor of prior to the case starting. I have walked out of a courtroom feeling like I have just taken part in a circus show. I had one judge who was overseeing a case who replied to an objection by answering – sorry, I haven’t been listening, what was your objection to?

    Thanks Ray! Keep up the good work!

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  • […] My recent post about a new initiative by bike lawyer Ray Thomas raised questions from readers due a lack of details. […]

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