Atlanta traffic court burdened by large number of cases - New York News

FOX 5 I-Team investigates

Atlanta traffic court burdened by large number of cases

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA -

An I-Team investigation finds Atlanta traffic court is getting crushed under the pressure of ever-increasing cases, made worse by an outdated clerical system.

The I-Team's Dana Fowle says because of that, mistakes are being made that have put innocent people behind bars.

Robert Clinard says he was coming off Interstate 85 to merge with Interstate 20 when he saw blue lights, so he pulled over. He tried to dispute a speeding ticket, but says he realized very quickly he was dealing with a much bigger issue.

"At that point he tells me to get out of the car and he informs me that my driver license was suspended in February," said Clinard.

Instead of making it to a friend's funeral, Clinard ended up at Atlanta Pre-Trial Detention getting a mugshot.     

Two years ago, Clinard got another ticket for running a red light.  A series of clerical errors with that ticket set off a chain reaction that eventually landed him in jail. Clinard says he tried to pay his first ticket online but couldn't find any information about it. So, he called an Atlanta city clerk for help.  

"She says, ‘Well, I see what the problem is, they had your name in the system has Rosevelt instead of Robert.' And they also put, and this was the most important thing, they had put the citation number in incorrectly numerically," said Clinard.

In the weeks it took trying to sort out the error, Clinard missed his court date and had his license suspended.  Eventually he paid his fine and got his license reinstated.  He says he was assured it was settled, until his arrest two years later.

"And that's where everything just kind of went crazy," Clinard said.

Atlanta City Councilman H. Lamar Willis sits on the Public Safety Committee.   

"The magnitude to which I'm being told that it is, is news to me and I'm sure would be news to my colleagues on Council, and frankly, would be news to the mayor," said Willis.

Two court insiders tell FOX 5 that as many as 2,000 citations a year have mistakes. Those mistakes can put people just one traffic stop away from possibly going to jail.

Councilman Willis wants a high-tech solution such as computerized citations. He hopes it can cut down on errors.

"It gives the person who is cited something to know very quickly if their names are spelled wrong. You don't have to deal with handwriting issues if someone doesn't write as neatly as others," said Willis.

Clinard still wonders if his troubles are over. When he showed up for a court date on an unrelated charge, he saw a familiar mistake.

"I'm looking at the court assignment docket and I looked up there and I see my first name, my last name. And I'm up there again and it has a Rosevelt," said Clinard.

To compound the problem, there are seven municipal court judge positions and four of them are empty.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Get Financially Fit: A Step-By-Step Plan

    Get Financially Fit: A Step-By-Step Plan

    Monday, April 14 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-04-14 13:15:13 GMT
    April is Financial Literacy Month, so it's time to think about getting financially fit.  Let's start with two questions. Do you know how much you spend each month?  How much of your check should you save?
    April is Financial Literacy Month, so it's time to think about getting financially fit.  Let's start with two questions:  Do you know how much you spend each month?  How much of your check should you save?
  • FOX 5 I-Team

    DON'T MISS: Tax Deductions and Credits

    DON'T MISS: Tax Deductions and Credits

    Friday, April 11 2014 8:48 AM EDT2014-04-11 12:48:55 GMT
    Let's finish up our tax time filing tips that we've offered this season with a quick look at deductions and credits too many folks forget.
    Let's finish up our tax time filing tips that we've offered this season with a quick look at deductions and credits too many folks forget.
  • FOX 5 I-Team

    IRS: Two Scam Warnings

    IRS: Two Scam Warnings

    Monday, April 7 2014 10:44 AM EDT2014-04-07 14:44:51 GMT
    We have two warnings coming from the IRS.  The first one is what investigators call the "largest ever" phone fraud scam targeting taxpayers.
    We have two warnings coming from the IRS.  The first one is what investigators call the "largest ever" phone fraud scam targeting taxpayers.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Recipe: Blissful Lowcountry Boil

    Recipe: Blissful Lowcountry Boil

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:05 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:05:26 GMT
    Blissful Lowcountry Boil Ingredients
    Blissful Lowcountry Boil Ingredients 4qts Water ½ cup Old Bay ½ cup Lemon Juice 1tbsp kosher salt 2 sliced shallots 8 garlic cloves 1lb Andouille sausage 1lb of New Potatoes 6 ears of corn shucked and
  • Pike Nurseries

    Spring Container Gardens

    Spring Container Gardens

    Friday, April 18 2014 10:21 AM EDT2014-04-18 14:21:54 GMT
    Container gardens are just as unique and diverse as gardens.
    Container gardens are just as unique and diverse as gardens.
  • Improve your commute with the "One Bus Away" app

    Improve your commute with the "One Bus Away" app

    Thursday, April 17 2014 9:03 AM EDT2014-04-17 13:03:23 GMT
    Don't you hate when you're waiting for mass transit and have no idea when that train or bus will show up? Now, there's an app for that and it's saving people time and money.
    Don't you hate when you're waiting for mass transit and have no idea when that train or bus will show up? Now, there's an app for that and it's saving people time and money.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Woman killed in NYC home in front of 2 children

    Woman killed in NYC home in front of 2 children

    Sunday, April 20 2014 5:01 PM EDT2014-04-20 21:01:11 GMT
    A woman was shot and killed inside her Ozone Park home and her husband is now under arrest. Authorities say retired NYPD officer Kevin Canty shot and killed his wife in front of their two young children in Queens Saturday morning.
    A woman was shot and killed inside her Ozone Park home and her husband is now under arrest. Authorities say retired NYPD officer Kevin Canty shot and killed his wife in front of their two young children in Queens Saturday morning.
  • Boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter dies at 76

    Boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter dies at 76

    New Jersey NewsNew Jersey News
    Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, has died at 76.
    Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, has died at 76.
  • Governor kicks off 114th annual New York International Auto Show

    Governor kicks off 114th annual New York International Auto Show

    Sunday, April 20 2014 3:27 PM EDT2014-04-20 19:27:34 GMT
    Auto fans you may already know this.... The 114th New York International Automobile Show is in town this week. Governor Cuomo was on hand Saturday to kick off the official opening of the 10 day event by driving a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette convertible through the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
    Auto fans you may already know this.... The 114th New York International Automobile Show is in town this week. Governor Cuomo was on hand Saturday to kick off the official opening of the 10 day event by driving a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette convertible through the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices