New judge, same problems at DeKalb traffic court - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

New judge, same problems at DeKalb traffic court

Posted: Updated:

Lost records. Backlogs. Chaos.

They're all words used to describe the DeKalb County Recorders Court. That's the court that handles traffic tickets.

Now, a new chief judge says she's cleaned up the mess in the three years she's been there. But, as the I-Team's Dana Fowle discovered, that doesn't mean the experience is by any means problem-free.

Judge Nelly Withers is in charge now and she will tell you – just ask – that January 1, 2010, marked the arrival of a new sheriff in town. She's done quite a bit to bring the DeKalb Recorders Court into the modern age. But, there are still people in a jam with old tickets that haven't been resolved.

Steffani Beaudoin Hall said, "No one knew where I should be or where I should go."

Hall's trying to resolve a traffic ticket – from seven years ago. First, she says she was told it was dismissed. Then, it wasn't. A trip to four different courtrooms later and Hall's understandably frustrated. It's been a painfully long journey to pay a 2006 traffic tickets.

She said, "I came down, paid that ticket, they lost that information. So, I came back and paid for it a second time, and I kept my records and seven years later they come back asking me to pay for it a third time. "

Judge Nelly Withers said, "Boxes of old tickets that had, were still unopened, that nobody had done anything about or had try to bring closure to."

That is, until Chief Judge Nelly Withers took over. When she walked in, she got tough. She says she had to.  They only closed about 50 percent of the cases annually -- creating a huge backlog.  

The judge says the case closure rate now is above 95 percent. She gave Fowle a behind-the-scenes look at building remodeling , as she went over how she is fixing the system.

Judge Withers said, "In every single area we have gone in and attempted to improve, figuring out what we have been doing wrong, historically, the 10 years before we got here. And, changing it."

Fowle spoke with the chief judge about Hall's unresolved traffic ticket.  She says records show Hall claimed for years the tickets didn't belong to her. Hall says the court's records are wrong, again. The judge is not swayed, but will concede one thing:  the old system let Hall down in this case.  The judge agreed that  seven years is too long to get a resolution to a traffic violation.  

"There was no procedure in place on '09, '07...  '05, '03," the judge said. " There was no procedure in place. It got lost in the system. It wound up in that room that was like the record room with records stacked floor to ceiling, with file after file of file of tickets that were in limbo."

When it came time to review Hall's case, the court no longer even had a copy of the citation -- just a blank screen.  Case dismissed.  

When asked if she feels better about this, Hall said, "A little bit. It's an all-day wait. Hopefully it never comes back up again. I got paperwork to prove it.  I will keep this the rest of my life."

Judge Withers says she's so serious about getting DeKalb County's troubled system back on track, that once a year she gives her staff a test to make sure they know how it all works.

CLICK ON THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE TO WATCH THIS FULL REPORT!

More Info:
DeKalb County Recorders Court
Address: 3630 Camp Cir, Decatur, GA 30032
Phone:(678) 483-8478
Hours:
 - Monday    8:00 am – 4:30 pm
 - Tuesday    8:00 am – 6:30 pm
 - Wednesday    8:00 am – 4:30 pm
 - Thursday    8:00 am – 4:30 pm
 - Friday    8:00 am – 4:30 pm
 - Saturday    Closed
 - Sunday    Closed

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • GA Lottery targets shadow winners

    GA Lottery targets shadow winners

    Sunday, September 14 2014 5:30 PM EDT2014-09-14 21:30:57 GMT
    The Georgia Lottery tells the Fox 5 I-Team it's launching a full-scale effort to crack down on so-called "shadow winners.
    The Georgia Lottery tells the Fox 5 I-Team it's launching a full-scale effort to crack down on so-called "shadow winners.
  • Graphic video of Forsyth Co. Courthouse shootout

    Graphic video of Forsyth Co. Courthouse shootout

    Thursday, September 11 2014 4:43 PM EDT2014-09-11 20:43:06 GMT
    FOX 5 has an extended clip of the dramatic shootout at the Forsyth County Courthouse.
    FOX 5 has an extended clip of the dramatic shootout at the Forsyth County Courthouse in June.
  • Is that sale really a sale?

    Is that sale really a sale?

    Wednesday, September 10 2014 8:18 AM EDT2014-09-10 12:18:46 GMT
    Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to buy things only on sale so that we can save money, but careful you might be fooling yourself. Take this observation from Kit Yarrow an expert in marketing and psychology:
    Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to buy things only on sale so that we can save money, but careful you might be fooling yourself. Take this observation from Kit Yarrow an expert in marketing and psychology:
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Get educated with online classes

    Get educated with online classes

    Friday, September 12 2014 11:17 AM EDT2014-09-12 15:17:09 GMT
    Ever wanted to take classes but thought you didn't have the time or or you couldn't afford it? Well with more and more online options out there, you do and you can. And many of them are free.
    Ever wanted to take classes but thought you didn't have the time or or you couldn't afford it? Well with more and more online options out there, you do and you can. And many of them are free.
  • Celebrate Oktoberfest in Helen GA

    Celebrate Oktoberfest in Helen GA

    Friday, September 12 2014 10:18 AM EDT2014-09-12 14:18:31 GMT
    It's the annual celebration of beer, brats, and bands.  And, everything else having to do with German culture, of course!
    It's the annual celebration of beer, brats, and bands. And, everything else having to do with German culture, of course! The 44th Annual Oktoberfest launches with a parade Saturday, and continues at Helen Festhalle for the next several weeks.
  • Pike Nurseries: Fall table decor

    Pike Nurseries: Fall table decor

    Friday, September 12 2014 9:29 AM EDT2014-09-12 13:29:31 GMT
    Here are some easy (and elegant!) ways to use fall flowers, vegetables, herbs and accessories to create a look for the table that easily transitions for the upcoming Halloween and even Thanksgiving holidays!
    Here are some easy (and elegant!) ways to use fall flowers, vegetables, herbs and accessories to create a look for the table that easily transitions for the upcoming Halloween and even Thanksgiving holidays!
Powered by WorldNow

KTBC FOX 7
119 East 10th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 476-7777
Fax: (512) 495-7001

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices