FOR THE TOWNS OF
MILTON, HARMONY AND LIMA
1. RESPECT IN COURT. Everyone appearing in court will receive a fair and impartial hearing, be heard, and be treated with respect. Those appearing in court will be respectful to the judge, clerk, and others in court. Turn off / silence all electronic devices. Remove hats when entering the court. If another matter is being heard, patiently and quietly wait until your matter is called.
2. ATTORNEY. The defendant may be represented by an attorney at his/her own expense. This is not a criminal matter and the state, county, or towns will not provide an attorney for a defendant. A defendant who intends to retain an attorney, should do so quickly in order to be prepared for trial. A defendant without an attorney is responsible for presenting his/her own defense. The judge and clerk cannot and will not provide legal advice to any party or talk with any party about the merits or facts of the case prior to trial.
3. PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE. This is a mandatory event during which the prosecuting attorney and defendant will discuss the citation(s) issued. The parties should attempt to resolve case by settlement if possible. If the parties reach a proposed resolution, it should be presented to the judge in writing before the trial date. The parties may alternatively present a proposed resolution verbally to the judge at the time of trial.
4. CONTINUANCE. Either party may request, in writing, a continuance for any reason at least ten days prior to the trial date. The party requesting the continuance should explain why the continuance is necessary. The judge will likely grant one timely request for a continuance and schedule the trial for a future date. Within ten days of the trial date or after a continuance has previously been granted to any party, the judge will only grant a continuance for good cause. An example “Request for Continuance” can be found on the court’s website.
5. CONDUCT OF THE TRIAL.
a. BURDEN OF PROOF. The Town must prove that the defendant violated an ordinance by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence.
b. WITNESSES (AND SUBPOENAS). Think about what witnesses to the events that you want at the trial. Unless they will appear voluntarily, you will need to subpoena them at least two weeks before trial. A subpoena is a document you get from the court and then present personally to the witness with the appropriate witness fees. You cannot mail the subpoena. The court’s website has instructions regarding subpoenas or you may contact the clerk for more information. Also, bring any relevant photos or maps or drawings.
c. POLICE TESTIMONY AND REPORTS. Before the trial, the defendant may ask the Town attorney in writing what witnesses they plan to use at trial. The defendant should not assume that those witnesses will be present, however, unless the defendant obtains and serves a subpoena on each witness. Do not assume that the judge has seen any police report. The judge has not read the police report and will not read the report unless it is properly submitted at trial. The defendant should not assume that the Town attorney will submit it at trial. If the defendant wants the judge to see it, bring a copy and then see whether or not it will be admitted. The defendant can request a copy of a police report by contacting the Town of Milton Police Department.
d. PRESENTATION OF EVIDENCE. The Town will call its witnesses first and ask questions. The defendant may then cross-examine and ask questions of each witness. The defendant may then testify as a witness, call other witnesses, and/or present documents such as photos or maps. Affidavits or written statements from witnesses are not allowed because they are hearsay. Each witness must come to court and testify. For every witness called, both the Town attorney and defendant will have a chance to ask questions.
6. JUDGEMENT. After the judge has heard all evidence and any arguments from the parties, he will make a decision. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge may order the defendant to pay a forfeiture authorized by the Town’s ordinance. This amount may be MORE than the amount of the citation. Additionally, the judge may add court costs and state surcharges to the forfeiture amount.
7. PAYMENT PLAN. If the defendant is found guilty, the court will typically order that payment of any forfeiture be made to the clerk within 60 days. The defendant may request a payment plan. If any payments according to the plan are missed, the judge may order the defendant to return to court and/or pay the amount then due in full or face other sanctions.
8. INABILITY TO PAY DUE TO POVERTY. If the defendant is found guilty but unable to pay the ordered forfeiture due to poverty, the defendant may request an “Indigency Hearing” before the municipal judge. An example “Request for Indigency Hearing” can be found on the municipal court’s website. If the municipal judge finds that the defendant lives at or below the poverty line and is unable to pay the forfeiture, the court may order the defendant to perform community service instead. If the defendant does not meet the legal definition of indigent, the municipal judge may allow the defendant to enter into a payment plan with the clerk.
9. APPEAL RIGHTS. Any party that loses after a trial can appeal the municipal court’s decision. The judge will explain the three appeal options after trial or entering a judgement.