The role of traffic court fines in the poverty cycle

Not Just a Ferguson Problem
Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How the Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California

Many have heard of the scathing March 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Justice on the police department of Ferguson, Missouri and the use of fines as a revenue source for the city — fines that are placed disproportionally on people of color via small infractions.  Unfortunately, similar methods of municipal financing is occurring in our own state.

A consortium of legal aid organizations:  The Western Center on Law and Poverty, the East Bay Community Law Center, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, have produced a report that looks at the impact on families of the policy of using traffic fines.  “Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California,” outlines how the fines have increased significantly since 2006, how the courts often impose the maximum fine and how there is little incentive not to since these fines support the courts, and how the resulting license suspension for not paying results in job loss and, therefore, further inability to pay the fines.


San Francisco has the Second Chance Legal Clinic for people who are in just such a predicament:  their license was suspended and they owe exorbitant fines.  This clinic also helps people that are barred from employment or housing due to past criminal actions.  The East Bay Community Law Center, who also helped with the above report, also has a Clean Slate Clinic.

You can find out about these and other resources at the Alameda County Law Library.









Baseball and the Lawyer

La Russa
Tony La Russa

The library has many career books for lawyers available for check out like Careers in Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice, Careers in Admiralty and Maritime Law, Careers in Criminal Law, and Turning Points: New Paths & Second Careers for Lawyers as well as many others.  A career path not much explored in print is baseball and law school.

With the San Francisco Giants winning the 2012 World Series after beating the Saint Louis Cardinals and then the Baltimore Orioles, it’s appropriate to concentrate on those teams. Mark Mosler, 2004 graduate of the University of Chicago, played minor league baseball for the Giants from 1997-1999. He is presently in the big leagues as a partner with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. Anthony “Tony” La Russa, who retired as manager of the 2011 World Series winning Saint Louis Cardinals, is a 1978 graduate of Florida State College of Law and passed the Florida Bar. He says, “Law school didn’t teach me how to hit the ball or how to run or how to pitch. But, because of law school, I see the game playing out in front of me on the field in a very different way. My legal training taught me to put myself in our opponents’ dugout. Law school taught me how to analyze and how to best deal with a specific situation. The best degree a baseball manager can get is a J.D. The law degree taught me how to study, how to think, and how to implement and develop a strategy.” His off season home is in the Bay area. Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), a “no-kill shelter” is located in Walnut Creek, California. That brings to mind another book in the library, Careers in Animal Law:Welfare, Protection, and Advocacy.

And just in case you don’t want to run a cupcake truck…

Hunting For A Job? Try the Internet

This article, written by a law librarian, is partly specific to librarian job sites, however, it includes enough other job services to make it valuable for attorneys and paralegals as well.  The author includes a tongue-in-cheek reference to Change Your Identity 2010 for those who want to just chuck it all (or don’t want to purvey cupcakes).  Change Your Identity 2010 publication of the same title shows one exactly how to change one’s identity ” supported by a full set of genuine identity documents. It’s the only way to escape your past problems and live your new life safe, secure and worry-free.”