Defendant Argues With Judge Over Traffic Violation, Even Cites His Race as Reason For Arrest

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By Naomi Cherone, Tanya Decendario, Meghan Imperio

VENTURA — Yesterday, Defendant Jason Maddox appeared in Ventura County Superior Court to confront charges he believed to be wrongly filed—claiming that it was his identity as a Black man that aggrandized these charges.

Judge Julia A. Snyder informed Mr. Maddox of the two charges placed against him, that of being an unlicensed driver, in violation of Vehicle Code section 12500, and running a red light, a violation of VC section 21453, but was quickly interrupted. Mr. Maddox wasted no time before rebutting his supposed charges.

“That’s all wrong. Not guilty on that red light and then I had a license,” Mr. Maddox said.

He continued to be blunt with his comments, while remaining adamant about not having run a red light, but rather having run a stop sign, and that he indeed had a license.

Judge Snyder continued to ask whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty to his two charges, but Maddox continued speaking. Maddox suggested he show his license to the judge while she advised him to plead not guilty and to present his evidence at trial.

Mr. Maddox continued to plead, “I’m a truck driver. I don’t want things on my record and I had a license but I guess you’re right ‘cause if I plead guilty today, then that’ll be a point in my record, I don’t need that for a driver’s license that I already have.”

Being that Mr. Maddox is a truck driver, he evidently was not willing to compromise his driving record—thus strengthening his determination on dismantling the charges placed on him.

While trying to comprehend the charges placed, Maddox interrupted Judge Snyder by stating, “I just got pulled over because I was Black.”

Judge Snyder repeated her lack of knowledge on his situation and asked for his plea.

He replied, “Not guilty, of course.” He then asked the judge to dismiss his assessment fee.

Judge Snyder advised the defendant to visit the office next door and file a request to waive his fees.

“You’re the judge. I like your hair by the way, but that doesn’t make any sense,” Maddox stated.

He then added, “But from my case, I got slammed with that fee without even knowing I had court.”

The judge accepted Mr. Maddox’s “not guilty” plea and began to schedule his trial. Maddox asked to set the trial in a week or two due to work conflict.

Repeatedly, the judge rejected his offer and firmly said, “No, it’s gonna be set April 1 through April 2.”

Mr. Maddox continued to assert that he was not able to attend either of those dates.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Judge Snyder responded.

Mr. Maddox pleaded with the judge to allow him to schedule a trial on another date that he would be able to attend. Since Maddox does not live in the area and needs to work, his availability made it difficult to schedule a trial that both he and the judge could agree to.

Maddox pleaded with the judge, “Please, even my birthday would be good on the 30th.”

His requests showed that he was willing and eager to go to court and resolve the issue.

After the judge denied Mr. Maddox’s request to reschedule, he asked the judge to schedule it within thirty days.

The judge finally agreed to schedule Mr. Maddox’s trial on March 26. His fees, however, were unable to be resolved at the time, and required a petition explaining why Mr. Maddox missed his initial deadline.

Naomi Cherone is a writer for the LA Vanguard’s social justice desk. She is a San Diego native who is majoring in Sociology at UCLA, while planning on pursuing law in the near future.

Tanya Decendario is a third-year student studying Legal Studies at UC Berkeley. She is originally from Sonoma, CA, but currently resides in Albany, CA.

Meghan Imperio is a writer for the LA Vanguard’s social justice desk. She is an English major at UCLA, originally from Glendale, CA.

Edit on 2/21/2021: We changed the title of this piece to something that we thought was more appropriate for the content in the article.


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6 thoughts on “Defendant Argues With Judge Over Traffic Violation, Even Cites His Race as Reason For Arrest”

  1. Alan Miller

    Maddox interrupted Judge Snyder by stating, “I just got pulled over because I was black.”

    Interrupted judge – not a good move.

    “You’re the judge. I like your hair by the way . . .

    Also not a good move.

  2. Keith Olsen

    He continued to be blunt with his comments, while remaining adamant about not having run a red light, but rather having run a stop sign

    So he admits to running a stop sign.

    Maddox interrupted Judge Snyder by stating, “I just got pulled over because I was black.”

    But claims he got pulled over because he was black, so I guess running the stop sign had nothing to do with it.

     

    1. Alan Miller

      Yeah what I don’t get is, all you have to do is look at the intersection and see if it has a stop sign or a stop light — how did that not come up?  It’s not like the intersection has a stop sign on Tuesdays, the signal lights on Wednesday.

      The headline teases the later statement “I just got pulled over because I was black,”  but the article isn’t about that, and him making that claim is the only reference.  There is no evidence given, not even an explanation as to why he thinks that, no expansion on the issue of race bias in this case.  Makes a ‘good’ headline though, if you’re into racial click bait.

      1. Ron Oertel

        That was the point that I was trying to make, earlier.  The headline doesn’t match the content of the article (or at least, not what one would expect on here).

        It almost seems to be poking fun at (and discounting) the “claim”, itself.

        It seems more like a practice article, covering a minor court case (despite the headline). It is part of the ongoing change at the Vanguard, I suppose.

  3. Bill Marshall

    two charges placed against him, that of being an unlicensed driver, violation of section 12500, and running a red light, violation of section 21453, but was quickly interrupted.

    And this case was in ‘Superior Court’?  The latter charge is usually adjudicated in ‘traffic court’… maybe the City of Buenaventura (its real name)/County of Ventura is different than Yolo County, etc.

    On that same charge, as others have pointed out, a difference (slight), except section 21453 is not about stop signs…

    Law section (ca.gov)

    Besides a bad cite, (bad reporting in the article) does not state wheter the defendent “blew thru” the intersection, or just being observed to have not come to a “complete zero velocity” stop… police are notoriously bad for citing someone for “failure to stop” if they creep along into the intersection @ ~ 1-2 mph… I got pulled over for the latter once…

    As to the first, in the same event I just mentioned, I was technically “unlicensed” (which police would have no way of knowing, had they not pulled me over), because I forgot my bithday and year of my license, so it had been “expired” for ~ 24 hours… took care of that the same day… I was given a warning, no citation/ticket, and had that happened it would not have been an arrest (again, the ‘reporting’ doesn’t distinguish), and again, certainly would have been Traffic Court, not Superior Court (yeah, technically, a nuance but the ‘reporting’ does not explain)… maybe “white privilege”?

    [edited]
     

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