My recent post about a new initiative by bike lawyer Ray Thomas raised questions from readers due a lack of details.
I apologize for that and to remedy the situation I got back in touch with Thomas and he explained more about the project:
“The idea is to find a positive way to give bicyclists some knowledge about how the legal system works. I heard from several riders that when they tried to represent themselves in court they felt they were treated poorly and that their evidence was rejected even though they had put alot of work into creating demonstrations about important fact issues for the court.
Our goal is to help riders with traffic charges to represent themselves when they cannot afford to pay lawyers to represent them. In traffic court a person does not have a right to a court appointed lawyer.
I am sorry that the tone of the original announcement sounded more negative than intended. We are not critical of the judges; in fact Oregon’s sitting, senior, volunteer and protem judges handle more cases with less staffing and pay than all but a handful of other states. However, any system runs on rules and needs to have accountability.
Our effort is to put together a collection of the rules and regulations that govern our traffic court systems so that bicyclists can know their legal rights before they enter the courtroom. If a bicyclist feels they have been treated unfairly it is important to have available some review process besides a legal appeal in order to provide feedback and acountability for the participants—our goal is to acquaint riders with knowledge about the rules and structure that already exists to make the court process fair for all.”
Hopefully that answers some of your questions. Thomas also said that his office will provide this collection of rules and regulations as a handbook and share it with us next week.
[Photo courtesy Swanson, Thomas & Coon Law Firm]