Thursday, May 24, 2007

Indiana Takes a Page from Singapore's Legal Code

Holy crap! This is too heavy-handed. Will all my esquire friends sound off on the legal feasibility of what this law seeks to allow?


JC said...

I see cruel and unusual...and excessive...and greedy...and less traffic in Indiana. Reason #23,234 not to go to Indiana.

Anonymous said...

Going from the blurb only, and not the law itself--which is dangerous because reporters rarely desribe laws usefully--here are my thoughts:

I don't think this is cruel or unusual. It's certainly within Indiana's police power to regulate traffic. I while I suppose that at some point a fine could become so high that it was cruel and unusual, its usually some incarceration or coerced act that violates the constitution (in most cases, state and federal, though I don't have any indpendent knowledge of Indiana's constitution). It's rare that fees are cruel and unusual.

Of course the $5K fine and incarceration is something, but probably, to my mind, still isn't cruel and unusual. In fact, not long ago, the SCOTUS upheld the legality of Texas' law allowing an arrest for any misdemeanor, regardless of what it was.

Actually, the two most troubling parts to me are probably ones nobody cares about. First, the fee is higher if you challenge the infraction. That is, the state makes the punishment more severe if you exercise your right to a hearing, effectively discouraging you from challenging the infraction, even if you really are innocent. I would think that might be troublesome from a constitutional point of view.

The second concern is administrative. It looks to me like they might have given the administrative agency too much leeway, without requiring findings of fact and the like. Of course, this is only a problem if it violates the state constitution, as it is a state agency executing state law. The federal constitution would probably not be involved in the administrative question (at least none is coming to mind). But I can tell you that if this was a federal agency executing federal law, there might be some questions as to ceding to much power to the agency and allowing them to make law without findings of fact.

That's what I've got off the cuff. I'm willing be contradicted by someone smarter (i.e., everyone), though.