LOS ANGELES -- A new ruling by the California Supreme Court has brought a hard-won victory to the people of Los Angeles.
The court ruled that parking tickets currently under review can no longer be finalized by private companies. While the city of Los Angeles was using private companies in this manner for a long time due to the high ratio of parking tickets issued by the city, it is now deemed illegal for companies handing out parking tickets, such as Xerox, to decide guilt or innocence for any and all parking tickets in the future.
This new ruling is especially important to one person living in Los Angeles. Cody Weiss, a man who tried to contest a parking ticket in 2012, was sent a letter by Xerox denying his claim and saying that the parking ticket – which was handed out due to Weiss supposedly being parked past the two-hour limit at a parking meter – was valid and would stand as issued. Subsequently, Weiss retained a lawyer, Caleb Marker, in 2014 and brought his case before the state’s Court of Appeals.
According to the reviews that the state legislation of California’s conducted during Weiss’ case, the framework for the private companies reviewing parking tickets for the city revealed that those companies, Xerox included, were only supposed to process the tickets, not hand down a verdict of innocence of guilt to the motorist that the ticket was issued to.
“The case is a good demonstration of the rule of law, as it shows that the government must follow the law and can be held accountable in courts,” Caleb Marker told the Northern California Record.
This decision ends what had effectively become a lucrative practice for Xerox and other for-profit companies of its kind in the city. Xerox had conducted more than 135,000 reviews of contested parking tickets in 2013 alone, and the city of Los Angeles counts on those tickets for revenue – $158 million in parking tickets is paid out each year in Los Angeles, helping the city collect a huge profit from its inhabitants.
“The city may have outsourced the process because it was more efficient or profitable,” said Marker.
However, the decision handed down by the California Supreme Court will have wider implications than Los Angeles.
“The Supreme Court did not accept the case for review and left the Court of Appeal’s decision in published form, so it sets precedent across California,” said Marker.
Since the ruling, the city of Los Angeles and Xerox will now have to pay all of Weiss’ legal fees, which total up to $721,995. This is because while Weiss and Marker were arguing about a private matter, it was in the public interest of other people living in the state of California.
Another major outcome of the ruling is that now anyone issued a parking ticket who decides to contest it will no longer have any of the private companies under contract with the city deciding whether to approve or deny the claim. Instead, any and all contested parking tickets in the future will be reviewed by the agencies that issue them, not the agencies that process them.
“We hope that motorists receive a legally legitimate review by civil servants employed by a politically accountable entity (the city),” said Marker.