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.
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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