Any alleged scofflaw looking to challenge a traffic ticket will now have to do so in Chatsworth, regardless of whether the ticket was issued in the Newhall Pass or Gorman.
“Effective Sept. 4, 2018, people with traffic tickets assigned to the Santa Clarita courthouse who request to see a judicial officer will have their hearings scheduled at the Chatsworth courthouse, located at 9425 Penfield Ave., Chatsworth,” the announcement released Friday said. “The Chatsworth courthouse handles all traffic-related matters, in addition to civil, family law and small claims,” the notice stated.
Essentially, if someone receives a ticket in the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station’s jurisdiction and they’d like to challenge the citation, they’ll have to drive to Chatsworth, unless it’s a misdemeanor charge, according to a Sheriff’s Station official, who files cases at the Santa Clarita courthouse on behalf of the local station.
A Sheriff’s Department official who works with the court said moving the handling of infractions to Chatsworth was an effort to address a backlog of misdemeanor cases, by making all three courtrooms at the Santa Clarita courthouse open to handle alleged misdemeanants.
If someone wants to just pay for a ticket, without a challenge, they’re still able to do so in Santa Clarita. A news release from the court also noted: “Most traffic matters can also be handled without a court appearance from the court’s website at lacourt.org/traffic.”
While the crime rate has not necessarily changed significantly, said Detective Brad Thompson, one of the SCV Sheriff Station’s court liaisons, the classification of those crimes, has. With Proposition 47’s reduction of many felony drug charges to misdemeanors, those misdemeanors cases have created a burden on the SCV courthouse’s ability to move cases along, he said.
“I don’t think there are too many people who are really happy about it, whether it’s law enforcement or the public, but Santa Clarita is being flooded with cases, so they need to break the backlog somehow.”
The reorganization has been under consideration for several years, Thompson said, and is actually more amenable than the previously suggested solution, which was to move all traffic matters to Chatsworth, even uncontested ones.
“This change will allow for a more efficient use of resources, provide a full-time misdemeanor trial courtroom at the Santa Clarita Courthouse, and enable the court to provide better service,” according to a news release from the Los Angeles County court system.
Mary Hearn, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Superior Court system, was not able to provide additional comment as of this story’s publication.