The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that courts can charge $25 for a clerk magistrates appeal and an additional $50 for a judge’s appeal of a civil motor vehicle offense. The court reasoned that the fee for both a clerk magistrate’s hearing and a judge’s appeal was reasonable and necessary to address the large number of people appealing their motor vehicle tickets.
Before 2009 there was no fee to appeal civil motor vehicle ticket, yet the legislature changed the law and enacted the $25 fee for the first hearing and an additional $50 fee for judges hearing. In the case that went to the Supreme Judicial Court Ralph Sullivan received the ticket prior to the imposition of the new fees. He appealed this ticket and was then charged a fee of $25 for the clerk magistrates hearing. He was found responsible at the clerk magistrates hearing and appealed that decision to a judge. Mr. Sullivan presented his case to the judge and was found not responsible. He then motion the judge to refund his fee, which the judge denied. Mr. Sullivan stated he should never have been charged a fee because at the time he had appeal to the ticket there were no fees. The court disagreed with Mr. Sullivan and stated that it was necessary to deter frivolous appeals.
The court cited the fact that there are over 200,000 filings for civil motor vehicle hearings each year in Massachusetts. The court reasoned that the fees are necessary to ensure adequate resources be given to these types of hearings. Even though the law changed between the time of Mr. Sullivan’s filing of his appeal the court acted proper in assessing him the fees.
The law today Massachusetts is that in order to be given a magistrates hearing one must pay the fee for the appeal within 20 days of being cited.
If you or somebody you know has been given civil motor vehicle ticket you should consult with an attorney that handles these types of matters. Civil motor vehicle tickets may result in both fines, increased insurance costs, and a loss of license.