Life Experience Confirms My Disbelief in Today’s System of Bureaucratic Morass

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Jon Rowe

Jon Rowe is a full Professor of Business at Mercer County Community College, where he teaches business, law, and legal issues relating to politics. Of course, his views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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234 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    Does PA have a way for you to report the sale of a vehicle?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      says:

      Not through taxes, at least…Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      says:

      I called the PA DMV to see what their information was. They said that 1. they had no info the car was sold and 2. it was listed owned by me with an expired registration.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jon Rowe
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        says:

        In WA, when you sell your car, you can file a notice with the state that it was sold specifically so you can avoid such situations. I don’t think it’s a hard & fast requirement to do so, but failing to do so can leave you liable.Report

        • Avatar aarondavid in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          CA also, at least in the past. Otherwise, I would have been in exactly the same situation as @jon-rowe . I gave away a car (working, as I was trying to do a good deed and help someone out) and was repaid by them not registering it in their name and them abandoning it.Report

          • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to aarondavid
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            says:

            Thanks for letting me know.

            What I tried to stress in my OP was this issue is a common scenario for folks who are otherwise used to dotting i’s and crossing t’s.

            Half of the commenters here it seems say they have experienced this or something like it.Report

  2. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Glad it all worked out for you. I missed the tyranny part though. Bueacratic morass: check. PITA: yupper. The complexities of living in a big, complex world: gotcha. Could it be better: yeah. Everybody is to blame: right on.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to greginak
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      says:

      If he had followed the first person’s advice and just ignored the letter, there would have been, unknown to him, an extant warrant of arrest out for him. If he had then decided to apply for a foreign long term visa (e.g. a study visa to UK) he would have been rejected because of the warrant that would have popped up when they conduct background checks.

      When stupid bureaucracy inadvertently sets your interests back seriously in a way that you don’t deserve, there seems to be a good case for calling it tyranny, especially if such setbacks are sufficiently pervasive. After all, one off wrongs will happen in a large enough country. But if bureaucracy is pervasive and such cock ups are also therefore pervasive, there seems to be a stronger case to be made that there are systematic injustices going on. Systematic injustice just is tyrannyReport

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Murali
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        says:

        There are good reasons to call it inefficient, arduous, a waste of time, punitive and other things. Tyranny, i’m not seeing it. I think this is one of those things where people of one view use hyperbole and don’t see how other people take it. Libertarians throw around words like tyranny, like some sort of…ummm…microaggresion.

        This was on my mind after a brief exchange with aaron and brandon about the apparent end of free speech. Of course the end of free speech was much much less then advertised.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak
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          says:

          Definition time! Tyranny

          The take away; tyranny really involves an overt, conscious effort to oppress or abuse authority. E.G Ferguson, where the police & courts were actively using the law to abuse a population for the purpose of extracting money for the budget.

          This is probably better defined by Bureaucratic Inertia, although the very fact that a bureaucratic/administrative SNAFU can result in a warrant for arrest & possible criminal charges is troubling precisely because such a system can be used to enact petty tyranny without much effort, or obviousness.

          @tod-kelly

          Again, the key difference between corporate bureaucracy & government bureaucracy is what they can do to you. At the absolute worst (ignoring Kimmie fever dreams of Koch conspiracies of murder), a corporation can file a lawsuit against you, although usually they just send you to collections. Government can issue an arrest warrant, jail you, drag your name & reputation through the mud, possibly kill you, all because you forgot to renew your dog license.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            “a corporation can file a lawsuit against you, although usually they just send you to collections. Government can issue an arrest warrant, jail you, drag your name & reputation through the mud, possibly kill you,”

            Umm…Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Tod Kelly
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              says:

              There is a difference in kind between my example & your counter.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                @oscar-gordon Well, yeah, because you chose a very specific example that makes one better able to forgive one and not the other.

                I could likewise take what automakers did in the 60s and 70s, knowing full well the loss-of-life consequences, and say that since government bureaucrats don’t get bonuses from boards of directors for making such decisions that governments are comparatively blameless. Which I’m sure eventually someone on the other side of the fence will do.

                All of which kind of feeds into my point.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Tod Kelly
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                says:

                Actually, I don’t forgive corporations who pull crap like that. I’m actually kind of surprised, especially given the success of tobacco & asbestos lawsuits, that no one ever took the auto industry to court over it & extracted every ounce of blood they could.

                Still, this is a case of specific greed winning out over a widespread & generalized low visibility harm. Take a look at GM now with regard to the ignition system issues. They are getting beaten like a cheap drum. It also remains very different from a government agency sending the cops after you for a lapsed dog license, or grass that is too long, or stray BBQ smoke.

                And, the final kicker is, even if the citizen is vindicated in all of it, the best they can hope for is maybe a public apology, although usually it all just quietly goes away. “Investigations” into misconduct, if they are even started, go nowhere; lawsuits are usually killed by immunity; and if the citizen had to spend money to hire a lawyer to defend themselves from such bureaucratic inertia gone wrong, well, that’s on them.

                So given the bureaucratic inertia of the two evils (corporate or government), I’d rather deal with corporate, because I have a greater ability to sue them should things go haywire, and they won’t be sending armed men to my door under the color of law.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            Oscar,
            Never heard a whit about the Kochs killing people.
            That, of course, would be a kindness, and they’re not disposed to be kind.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to greginak
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          says:

          I like to draw the analogy to racism. There are two sorts of racism. The first is the one motivated by animus or false beliefs about racial inferiority. The other is one in which everyone (or almost everyone) is generally well intentioned, but the system is set up that black people end up getting screwed anyway. Similarly, there can be 2 types of tyranny. The first is the Saddam Hussein type. The second is when institutions are set up in such a way that lots of people end up being arrested mistakenly (and it becomes very difficult to correct it) etc.Report

          • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Murali
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            says:

            Murali,

            I’m not a fan of that sort of defining things down. By that standard public parks are communism, ag subsidies are fascism, and “In God We Trust” on our money means we live in a theocracy. It just seems over the top to me.

            There are certain words that connote a particular level of “badness” that should be reserved for things that genuinely rise to that level. Otherwise they just end up having their meaning diluted and meaningful distinctions get erased.Report

      • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Murali
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        says:

        That’s true. The thing that worried me the most was the potential bench warrant for my arrest would have sent me to the Trenton, NJ jail. Not all jails are created equal.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly
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    says:

    Interesting stuff, Jon. As someone who had a terrible (and potentially very expensive) run in with my city’s tree bureaucrats a couple of years ago, I can both sympathize and empathize with your plight.

    Still, I have a wee niggle with this:

    This is why 1. I often don’t vote; and 2. when I do it’s usually Libertarian.

    For me, what happened with my city’s bureaucrats and what happened when I was overcharged by many hundreds of dollars by AT&T and couldn’t get them to reverse the charges aren’t really different. Both are simply just part of what happens when organizations get so large that there can be a complete disconnect between the people the organization is set up to serve (citizens/customers) and the people in charge of various parts of the mechanisms set up to serve them.

    I have noticed over time that one’s political stripes allow one to forgive or make excuses for one kind of terrible organization (government or corporation) but not the other. Conservatives and libertarians will point fingers at my tree saga and your car saga and say, “this is why government needs to get out of the way of people and the marketplace,” but will shrug their shoulders when similar red tape and Byzantine bureaucracies are employed by corporations. (“But in a marketplace, you can just take your business elsewhere…”) People I know on the left do the opposite. (“But with government, you can just vote to have those things changed…”)

    I honestly do not know why this is. I really don’t. But I do believe that this “government/corporation forgiveness” contributes to neither government or corporations getting any better at serving those they are charged to serve.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      All human groups or organizations are prone to the same problems and faults. Humans are all prone to the same faults. Human orgs, problem filled as always, benefit from oversight and push back from other human orgs.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      I’m not sure that Reagan’s old line shouldn’t be updated. Scariest sentence I know is “you have reached the customer service department, due to unexpected call volume…”Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      See, here’s the kicker.

      AT&T will never be able to show up to your house with a SWAT team and shoot your ass over an unpaid invoice. But if they did there’d be consequences. Any state, local, county, or fed entity CAN. With the gov’t, the aren’t any.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Damon
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        says:

        Well, technically, no entity can simply show up and shoot you over any unpaid anything.

        What the government CAN do, is to issue a fine to you. Then when you don’t pay it, issue a warrant for your arrest, and if you resist, shoot you.

        A private entity on the other hand, has to sue you. Then get a judgment against you. Then when you don’t pay, the government issues a lien and force a sale. Then when you refuse to move out, send a SWAT team to shoot you.

        I don’t know why this idea still has any currency that somehow private power is enfeebled and lacks the violent power of the state.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA
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          says:

          LWA: I don’t know why this idea still has any currency that somehow private power is enfeebled and lacks the violent power of the state.

          Let me show you.

          has to sue you

          This, right here, is my safety check. The private entity has to sue, and I have a chance to stop them right there, as well as the opportunity to hit back for legal fees if they’ve really over-stepped.

          When the state takes me to court over the fine, I’m already in a criminal trial, where failure is hefty fines and/or my freedom. Also, this assumes that the state does not choose to secure my participation in the criminal proceedings with a SWAT team (which then throws a grenade into the baby’s crib).Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            Yeah, a corporation at least has a comprehensible if not-necessarily-noble goal – to obtain money – and must follow due process of law to do so.

            An agent of the state can kill you to obtain the goal of…your compliance? Not having to listen to your smart mouth anymore? – and, well, IS the law, and is unlikely to suffer serious repercussions.

            So really, the feeling is mutual…I cannot comprehend how people consider the two equivalent threats (though often, they obviously may work in concert).

            Or to put it in terms that might make more sense to those elsewhere on the political spectrum: a government, by dint of its arms and reach and resources and monopoly of legal force and immunities, is like the proverbial “loaded gun”, just lying around waiting for the wrong person to pick it up (which could be a corp.), or to go off on its own.

            And hopefully you aren’t the person in its sights when it does.Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Glyph
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              says:

              …a corporation at least has a comprehensible if not-necessarily-noble goal – to obtain money – and must ostensibly follow due process of law to do so.

              FIFY.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Burt Likko
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                says:

                And a municipality must ostensibly follow due process as well. So throwing grenades into baby cribs is unpossible.

                There is this attempt being made in these sorts of arguments to pit one system against another- public v private, individual v communal.

                But this ignores the fact that systems are just words on paper- how they are enforced is ultimately the question.

                There isn’t anything about our laws that would suggest that black people would be harmed more than whites. but they obviously are. There isn’t anything that suggests that large private powers enjoy near-immunity from the law, but they obviously do.

                Looking at injustice as somehow an org-chart problem, or systemic technical problem ignores the fact that injustice is almost never an unintentional side effect- it is almost always a deliberate and intentional outcome.
                This is where I part company with some on the left- Capitalism didn’t create slavery, and socialism wouldn’t have cured Jim Crow, any more than communism created the killing fields, or Islam created 9/11.

                All the abuses cited by Radly Balko are inflicted overwhelmingly against the poor and people of color- there aren’t SWAT teams crashing through the doors of Wall Street bankers who forged mortgage papers, there aren’t police officers pepper spraying corporate executives who steal wages.

                This is a systemic problem only insofar as we collectively have decided, chosen freely, to look the other way, to vote repeatedly for people who promise to “get tough on crime” and simultaneously apologize to BP for having the temerity to question them for the oil spill.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA
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                says:

                Due process was followed

                The failure was one of trust, the courts trust the cops to be truthful, and then fail to punish them when they aren’t.

                When private parties lie under oath, judges usually get all upset by that & start talking about perjury charges, etc.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                When private parties lie under oath, judges usually get all upset by that & start talking about perjury charges, etc.

                Flat out untrue.

                Not if the private party is wealthy. HSBC Bank admitted to money laundering for terrorists for God’s sake, yet walked away without so much as a stern lecture.

                Agribusinesses have been found to enslave people- literally, enslave people. Yet only a few have been brought to justice, while others walk free. Its not that there wasn’t enough evidence, its that the justice system- the individual people within the justice system- choose not to prosecute them.
                And these justice officials were rewarded by the voters and elected officials with continued employment.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LWA
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                says:

                Q: In the state of California, for calendar year 2012, how many times did prosecutors file criminal charges alleging perjury committed in civil litigation?

                a) Four.
                b) Forty.
                c) Four hundred.
                d) None of the above.

                I’ll give you a hint. It isn’t b), c), or d).Report

          • Avatar LWA in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            Seriously?

            So LeviathanCorp suing you is somehow different than the Municipality issuing a fine?
            And you think that you have better chances against one than the other, why?

            Before you get too far down your response, consider that in the most egregious cases of predatory and unjust government such as Ferguson, the motivating factor is profit.
            That is, some entity is not simply enforcing a law or behaving with bureaucratic blindness, but actively and maliciously pursuing financial gain.

            In all such cases the police power of the state is outsourced and hijacked to these ends.
            Any solution that aims to “reduce the power of the state” misses the culprit- the state hasn’t been enlarged in pursuit of a noble goal- it has been enlarged in pursuit of a private agenda, and any attempt to reduce the state will run into the no-longer-hidden hand of the private entity.

            One example of that is private prisons, collections agencies, bounty hunters and security firms, who all lobby vociferously for laws that ensnare citizens.
            You can argue against the laws all you want- your true opponent isn’t the nanny state liberal- its the private corporation.

            In Jon’s case, who do you think really profits from and lobbies for, the enforcement of ticketing, towing, impounding, lien enforcement?Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA
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              says:

              Yes, seriously.

              Comcast has to sue me, they have to follow the law, and they can not legally employ violence against me, EVER! Even if I aggravate them to the point of foaming at the mouth rage. The worst they can do is sue me, and I can challenge them in court, and even if I lose to them, I still do not face life destroying criminal charges unless I opt to completely skip out on paying the judgement.

              If I piss off a cop, I could get beaten, severely injured, or even dead, and if I’m really damn lucky, he might face charges (although a conviction is uncertain).

              If I piss of a DA, I might find myself facing all sorts of criminal charges that the courts will be willing to not label as unfair until long after the DA has stepped over rational bounds.

              If I piss off a bureaucrat, depending on the office, I could be looking at criminal charges, or legal action, or just piss poor service that makes my life difficult.

              Now your point about private prisons is valid, but even there, as I mentioned elsewhere, such power is granted to them as agents of the state. Just because I build a prison doesn’t mean I get to exercise power with it unless the state grants me that power.

              As for regulatory capture (which is what you are talking about), I’ve been pretty vocal against it, but the fact remains that corporations pursue regulatory capture because it is there to be captured. It’s a problem we will always face, and how easy it is to do is a pretty damning comment on the quality of politicians we select. But, while the towing companies may lobby for laws that make it easy for them to profit, they don’t have an incentive to send the cops after someone. Prison guard unions, on the other hand…

              What it all boils down to is this, in the day to day, I’d rather owe money to a corporation than a government, because in general, a corporation can’t send armed me to my home. They can’t even have their legal department call up the local PD and have me picked up for non-payment without going through the motions and giving me a day in court. But a cop can decide I was selling drugs, swear out a warrant, and have my home raided, all on just their word. And maybe the courts will take a dim view of it all, if I’m lucky.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                [Private Entity] has to sue me, they have to follow the law, and they can not legally employ violence against me, EVER!

                In your lived experience, I’m sure that’s true. But private employers can, and do, use violence against their employees, landowners against tenants, and only the strong arm of the nanny state (sometimes) prevents it.

                See, for you and me and most of the people on this blog, the concept of a private entity using violence against us- white, educated, middle class people- is unthinkable.

                Yet for many people, it is the norm, a fact of everyday life.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to LWA
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                Blackwater…..

                Seriously, the only reasons company’s don’t employ violence in America (well, much) is because we had a rather nasty history of it and outlawed the crap out of it. In short, the heavy hand of government tyranny prevented the otherwise quite natural (judging by how common it’s always been) hand of private tyranny. Violent private tyranny,.

                I mean good lord, a casual knowledge of American history covers the company towns, strike-breakers, and other nasty uses of compulsion and violence by private concerns. Stuff that goes on, even today, in other countries whenever it can be gotten away with.

                The status quo of America is not some default, steady-state of being. It exists because of multiple forces. Which is why I’m always leery of repealing laws or regulations without first understanding why they are there.

                Perhaps they are useless or counter-productive. Or perhaps they show no pressing reason for existing because they have effectively prevented something that, if removed, would simply pop back up.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Morat20
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                says:

                I am reminded of TNC’s documentation of how in the 1930’s a black man in Mississippi had his land stolen from him by white people who colluded with the state to trump up charges on him.

                This is one example, but typical. This wasn’t the inadvertent workings of a petty bureaucracy or even aberration.

                Injustice wasn’t failing of the system. Injustice was the very desired outcome of the system. The laws were carefully written and selectively enforced to produce just this outcome, and just for this class of people.

                Blaming it on the “size of the state” or “capitalism” assumes that somehow race had nothing to do with it, or as in other cases, religion, ethnicity, class or whatever. As if the Leviathan of runaway socialism in Jim Crow South was seizing land from all races and classes.

                Would an unjust society be less unjust, were it to have a different system- socialism, libertarianism, capitalism- installed?

                Jon experienced a failing of a system, and being white, educated, engaged and enfranchised, suffered nothing more than annoyance and irritation. That isn’t a coincidence- the system we have is designed to protect him and people like him, and he was able to take advantage of the many safety valves and checks available to him to escape injustice.

                The yearnings of white educated engaged and enfranchised people for a smaller state reflects a solution that makes sense to them, since even without the strong state they still remain the beneficiaries of a system that places them high above others, offers them protections denied those of a different class.

                There isn’t any sort of system that will see people like you and me and Jon or Goldman Sachs on the receiving end of flashbang grenades and SWAT teams, unless we choose it to be so.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA
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                says:

                Lived experience … lets go with that.

                In the last 40 years, when was the last time a corporation directly employed violence in America in pursuit of a bad debt? When, in the last 40 years, has any private business directly employed violence against an individual in the US & not suffered some kind of legal consequence from it?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Oscar,
                We’ve got a few missing persons cases out here, where the only reasonable killer was a corporation. (outstanding lawsuits, you understand…).

                Legal consequences to assassination (and yes, we’ll just go ahead and talk worldwide) are relatively rare, so long as you make it look like an accident. Even if it’s an Implausible Accident, like the spate of “London Banker Suicides” that was followed up quite nicely by killing the reporter investigating the situation. (n.b.: idiots kill reporters — distracting reporters is a far better strategy).Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                @oscar-gordon
                Private violence has greatly been curbed due to the coercive nanny state.

                However we could note the prevalence of bounty hunters, the intimidation and harassment of payday lenders.

                We could also note that for certain classes of people such as guest workers and farm workers all the protections that you and I take for granted, simply don’t exist.

                There are documented cases of these workers being held in slavery to work off a debt, and yet very little is written or done about it.

                For that matter we could look at Bill Cosby and the private violence he inflicted and note that until recently, what he did wouldn’t have illegal. Do you think that any of those women would have agreed that it is preferable to owe money to Cosby rather than the city?

                Again, in your lived experience and mine, this is nonexistent and unpossible.

                But see not everyone lives under the same government. The jack booted thugs who ruthlessly enforce draconian law in Ferguson simply don’t exist on Wall Street.
                The 13 year old girl who works 10 hours a day in a field inhaling pesticide doesn’t view the EPA or Dept. of Labor the same way her employer does.

                This argument that government is too large doesn’t have any way of addressing this phenomenon. It assumes that everyone experiences government the same way. It can’t address the fact that for some people government is far too weak and ineffective.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA
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                says:

                @lwa @davidtc

                Recall my original statement if you will. I am MORE concerned about the bad acts of government, not unconcerned about the bad acts of private business. This is something I’ve been more than clear about over the years, and I’m still getting painted up as a libertarian strawman.

                This is why I picked 40 years. I am more than aware of the state of affairs prior to the civil rights era, but in my lived experience, the government is the greater bringer of violence than the corporation. Corporations can’t run a SWAT team through my door because the previous owner owes them money. Government executes 50000-80000 SWAT raids a year, mostly for warrant service, mostly for warrants of non-violent offenders. A significant number of those are in error, and most involve innocent third parties & dead dogs. Then we have the hundreds who are maimed or killed by government just during normal interactions gone wrong.

                Now the issue of illegal immigrants being placed into effective slavery is a clear wrong committed by corporations, and it is highly concerning, & if our government had a sane immigration policy, there’d be tools for fighting such practices.

                In short, I refuse to accept a dichotomy where I have to tolerate the violence & abuses of our government as a necessary evil in order to check the violence & abuses of private actors. And since currently our government is the greater perpetuator of violence, I chose to focus my concern there.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                In the last 40 years, when was the last time a corporation directly employed violence in America in pursuit of a bad debt?

                What an incredibly specific framework you’ve invented.

                Corporations don’t need to ‘directly’ employ violence to pursuit bad debts because the system is set up where the *government* does the violence on their behalf.

                When, in the last 40 years, has any private business directly employed violence against an individual in the US & not suffered some kind of legal consequence from it?

                41 yeas ago, Karen Silkwood was probably murdered by ‘a corporation’.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                If you look at the law of collections state by state, the taxman can always get you, the family law man can always get you, private debt collectors can get you but often have fewer options.

                For instance, in PA where I live the tax man and family law man can garnish wages, but private civil creditors cannot.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Jon Rowe
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                says:

                Because the LAST time Penna gave private creditors the power to threaten old folks, people DIED. And this was within the past ten years.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kim
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                That’s interesting, do tell?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Jon Rowe
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                says:

                Bit of trouble with letting private collectors collect utility bills for the state. It was “privatization” — but private debt collectors are used to lying about exactly how much trouble people will be in, and old folks didn’t know any better. You had people going without food/medicine in order to pay one bill, or letting another lapse.

                After a good handful of people died, the law got changed back toot sweet.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kim
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                I do pro-bono work on behalf of a client who constantly has debt collectors harassing him. I know how to deal with them.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                DavidTC: Corporations don’t need to ‘directly’ employ violence to pursuit bad debts because the system is set up where the *government* does the violence on their behalf.

                Except the government is not obligated to perform violence in pursuit of private debts, so if it is, then those individual agents are choosing that option over less violent ones. Also, my previous point still stands that before a corporation can engage the government, it has to sue, employ a process server, & make a good faith effort to find a person to notify them of the suit before it can move forward. If I owe the government money & I don’t know about it, their obligation to make sure I know is pretty light before they can swear out a warrant & use the police to physical force me to appear.Report

        • Avatar Damon in reply to LWA
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          says:

          ” private power is enfeebled and lacks the violent power of the state.”

          Oh, maybe because we see in the news countless examples of gov’t over reach and hardly any of private over reach when it comes to “sending in the swat team”Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      @tod-kelly: Here’s what scared me a little and I think distinguishes our scenarios.

      Forgive me if someone else made this point and you replied. If a corporation over charges you, you can always not pay the bill and see what they do in terms of “collections.” That could mess with your credit. That’s not cool. Try to work it out. Yes, it’s frustrating.

      It’s not just fines I am being threatened with, but the ENFORCEMENT mechanism of the state. The potential loss of driving privileges and jail. And this is in Trenton, NJ. As in a Trenton jail.

      I don’t have as much a problem with them holding the car hostage. I already told the parties, the car is yours if you want it. The problem was I didn’t have the title. They are going to get the car anyway by applying for junk or clear title. That’s not the enforcement mechanism I have an issue with.Report

  4. Avatar Jon Rowe
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    says:

    You may be right that my use of the term “tyranny” was hyperbole. But it’s not just libertarians who do this. Lefties say Righties are “fascists.” Righties say Lefties are “Commie Pinkos.” Not trying to excuse what it said, just observe.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jon Rowe
      Ignored
      says:

      Oh yeah people use hyperbole. People of all stripes. It usually doesn’t lead to productive conversations but its what people, especially on the toobz do. Another problem with hyperbole is people start believing it and lose their bearings on what makes sense. There are certainly conservatives who think O is a commie. I said this years ago, but one of the reasons i started coming here was because there were a fair amount of libertarians. While i disagree with most libertarians on many issues, at least they knew what the hell socialism or communism was. That was better then the idiotic ranting i ran into with most republicans at the time.Report

  5. Avatar nevermoor
    Ignored
    says:

    Did you follow your state’s rules (found in one hop from googling “pa dmv report sale of car”)? Sounds like no.

    A few other thoughts:

    Why doesn’t selling to a random tow truck driver who agrees to buy your car on the spot not count as a somewhat shady transaction to you? Seems like one to me.

    Who is to blame for the complex web of rules? Everyone is probably right. But how does not voting (or voting libertarian, which is the same in a two-party system) solve anything? What solution is there to this problem (cars need to be registered, informal sales make that challenging, someone needs to be responsible for misconduct like ditching the car)?

    It looks like your experience took about one (maybe two) more interactions than minimally necessary to clear up a problem you created by not properly transferring title. It also sounds like you were unnecessarily belligerent (seriously, threatening to sue people for not cooperating to fix your mistake? Not a great strategy for getting help…). I’ll echo those above who see this as unduly burdensome (mostly because the title transfer rules seem FAR too involved, not because NJ tried to enforce its laws against the registered owner) but a far cry from tyranny. Tyranny is (maybe) if you actually suffered some consequence (jail, fines, whatever) from someone despite proving to them that you’d sold the car.

    And last point on “(Yes, you lefties, this is an important way your big bloated state and local governments get funded.)” That is certainly true in some places, but not everywhere. And it shouldn’t be true anywhere! Liberals were appalled at the Ferguson disclosure, and I think it was a real (long overdue) lesson learned. Unlike the GOP, though, liberals actually have a solution for government funding that doesn’t rely on punitive fines for petty offenses. We call it “taxes.”Report

    • Avatar CJColucci in reply to nevermoor
      Ignored
      says:

      Now, now, don’t go spoiling everyone’s fun like that.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to nevermoor
      Ignored
      says:

      Why doesn’t selling to a random tow truck driver who agrees to buy your car on the spot not count as a somewhat shady transaction to you? Seems like one to me.

      ?? Not at all. That’s something my extended family has done on more than one occasion. My parents did it just a couple years ago.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
      Ignored
      says:

      “Why doesn’t selling to a random tow truck driver who agrees to buy your car on the spot not count as a somewhat shady transaction to you? Seems like one to me.”

      Well I think of my Dad, an attorney, who I learned by example how to dot i’s and cross t’s. Before the age of the Internet, when we had an old car to sell, he’d take out an add in the paper. If a fellow middle class person came over (often with a family member) saying something along the lines of “this will be the first car for my 17 year old kid” we thought we could trust them.

      When my Dad got burned it truly was from shady appearing “random” person.

      The party I sold my car to wasn’t quite that random. It was actually a local business who happened to be the agent of Geico’s (I called Geico’s towing).

      And no, I don’t see your point as valid. It’s often said “the law is an ass.” What today’s version of the law actually is is a bunch of convoluted complications that a hypothetical person — not the “reasonable person” from the common law of old — but a “supraintelligent person” who has a record breaking IQ of 1000 (when average IQ level is 100) — couldn’t possibly comply with in every hypothetical scenario.

      This is why I mentioned myself as an example of 3 (I have JD,MBA,LL.M. degrees; my Dad has JD, LL.M. degrees, and my friend from work as an Ed.D. All of us live comfortable middle class lives. More ordinary folks fall into that 1.2 million statistic I cited.)

      So I hope that answer your questions adequately.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jon Rowe
        Ignored
        says:

        Incidentally, when we got burned in a manner as mentioned in the OP, it wasn’t by a tow-truck driver but by a “donate your car and write it off your taxes” charity organization. Which is how (at least, that I can think of) two later cars ended up being sold to tow yards instead.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Jon Rowe
        Ignored
        says:

        The person party I sold my car too wasn’t quite that random. It was actually a local business who happened to be the agent of Geico’s (I called Geico’s towing).

        This is probably because lawyers don’t typically deal with sub-contractors, but there are a lot of shady sub-contractors out there.Report

      • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
        Ignored
        says:

        Great, we both have JDs and are both lawyers. Not sure how that gets to your 1000 IQ point. The rules are six pages long with a 3-item checklist for sellers at the end. I bet if you’d only removed your plates and returned to DMV (the third checklist item), things would have gone differently, as DMV would have known that car was sold.

        Also, yes, the sale rules are somewhat crazily overcomplex in your state. Great.

        But you made a choice (knowingly or otherwise) to make a sale outside those rules. And the consequences were that you had to make some phone calls when your car was misused. Seems to me that you got off a lot more lightly than you could have.

        Finally, you keep leaning on “agent of GEICO.” It sure sounds to me like local small towing company, not some entity that has any ties closer to that company than a rate agreement. And if you’re trying to tell me that no towing company could possibly be shady, I’d say your experience refutes that assertion.Report

        • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m not arguing local small (or big) businesses can’t be shady. Mine was an agent of Geico’s because that’s who I called, the party I have “towing” as part of my insurance contract. Geico delegated those responsibility to them. According to the common law rules of “agency” and “assignment and delegation” Geico would be vicariously responsible.

          I kept the plates but didn’t send them to the DMV. Please point to me to those regulations where it notes if I DON’T send the plates, everything that happens therefrom is my fault?

          Again, thinking back to my Dad and how I was taught to conduct business, in upper middle class, well educated professionaldom. Once, he cancelled insurance on our car, garaged it, to save some $ (kids going away to college and all that, having only 2 cars instead of 3 insured, save some $).

          We then got notice that we had to turn the plates in. And my family took responsible requisite action.

          In my circumstance, I never got notice from the DMV after I sold my Suburu that because my registration was expired, and the car was no longer insured, I had to do XYZAZBC.

          So no, I don’t take responsibility for not knowing that bit of administrivia and for assuming that the lawful buyer of my car was going to do the right legal thing.

          This mindset — YOUR MINDSET — is part of the bureaucratic morass to which I call bullshit and in fact part of the reason why there are 1.2 million outstanding warrants in NYC.Report

          • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
            Ignored
            says:

            This mindset – YOUR MINDSET – is what is so insufferable about libertarians.

            All of your failures to follow the rules are somehow excused because you and your father are otherwise good and responsible people. And if not excused, someone else’s fault. Any repercussions, no matter how minor, flowing from that failure are unjustifiable TYRRANY!

            I mean, c’mon. You “never got notice from the DMV after I sold my Suburu”?!? BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T TELL THEM YOU SOLD IT. Obviously the other guy didn’t either, but how are they supposed to notify you of something they didn’t know (but you did)? And, as I’m sure you’d immediately agree in other circumstances, it isn’t the state’s obligation to inform you of every rule that applies to you every time. You have some personal responsibility to be a legal car owner.

            Some more questions, which I dare you to answer.
            1: When NJ finds a car illegally dumped, shouldn’t they try to figure out who owns it?
            2: When PA DMV receives that call, shouldn’t they check their records?
            3: When they find you as the registered owner, shouldn’t they cooperate with NJ law enforcement?

            Unless any of those are no, you only have two complaints that move me more than 0%:

            A: PA should have easier rules to allow sellers to record title transfers.
            B: The person you sold to shouldn’t have failed to register your car

            So, great, you misplaced your trust in a buyer. That’s YOUR FAULT more than the state of PA or the state of NJ.Report

            • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
              Ignored
              says:

              “Some more questions, which I dare you to answer.

              “1: When NJ finds a car illegally dumped, shouldn’t they try to figure out who owns it?”

              No problem there. I told them what occurred, sent them the bill of sale. The issue I had was with being threatened with a bench warrant for my arrest that would send me to a jail in Trenton, NJ. And a potential suspension of NJ driving privileges or up to 5 years. And after I did what I was supposed to do, still received a summons with potentially grave consequences.

              “2: When PA DMV receives that call, shouldn’t they check their records?”

              They never received any call until I called them and all they had to say was that I was still listed as owner with a vehicle that is now uninsured and registration expired. And btw, I still haven’t received any demand from them to send my license plate to them.

              What, my mistakes count, but theirs don’t?

              “3: When they find you as the registered owner, shouldn’t they cooperate with NJ law enforcement?”

              Yes, everyone should cooperate with one another. So far the only thing you’ve been trying to pin me with is failure to inform PA DMV that I lawfully sold my car to another party and failed to send my license plates in.

              (Arguably it’s their responsibility to notify me of this and send postage paid materials for me to use to send the plates back to them.)

              You’d make for a wonderful bureaucratic tyrant, if you aren’t already one.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                I know you can’t really be missing this point. NJ got your name because it was the only name PA had to give. Sounds like you agree that NJ did nothing wrong in contacting you. Quibbling over whether NJ called them or has a data link for the same purpose is irrelevant.

                And, yes, I’m “trying to pin” you to failing to transfer your car’s registration, making you the contact person on the car. That’s the only thing that any of the players other than the buyer did wrong.

                You’d make for a wonderful bureaucratic tyrant, if you aren’t already one.

                Hey, first personal cheap shot! Actually, as some on this site can attest to from personal knowledge, I work in a small business.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                I actually never claimed NJ did anything wrong in merely contacting me. For those who know me, I’m all about giving people as much information as they desire and need. And I gave such information as soon as I received it.

                What I object to is:

                1. the actual or potential consequences threatened against me, and those like me, who did nothing wrong, but could be the victim of a real party who didn’t properly comply (in my case it could lead me in a Trenton Jail: I’d like to see how you would do in such).

                And:

                2. When I did what I did in good faith to ameliorate such issue (sending the Bill of Sale of the Detective) having me still exist in “the system” for potential consequences because of some “oversight” on their part.

                And by the way, I’ve carefully examined the legal codes and I think you are DEAD WRONG that I have done anything illegal. I can sell a car, sign the title, not send any license plate in or inform the PA DMV unless so asked, and I should have to worry about nothing further.

                When NJ found my car, they could seize it, inform me of what occurred and threaten me with fines loss of the auto, and nothing more.

                If YOU think it’s okay that I in theory should be able to be pulled over in Trenton, NJ criminal system for a minor infraction and potentially sent to a Trenton jail means YOU in principle support a tyrannical system.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                If you want me to conclude that items 1 and 3 on that checklist are made up requirements, you’ll have to do better than a flat assertion (even in all caps).

                If you don’t think NJ should have that law on the books (a $100-$500 fine plus an optional suspension of driving privileges for abandonment) I’m not sure why you think so.

                If you don’t think courts should be able to punish non-appearance with contempt, I wonder how you think courts should be able to operate.

                Also, so we are clear, you are only going to jail if (1) you ignore the initial contact; (2) you ignore the court summons; and (3) later have a run-in with the law (they sure aren’t sending bounty hunters for you). Even then you probably don’t spend a night in jail (or, at least, you probably wouldn’t here).

                For whatever reason, you seem to completely ignore the option of going to court (as ordered) and presenting your evidence. I’d bet a LOT of money that the charge gets dismissed at that point if not (as happened here) sooner.

                When NJ found my car, they could seize it, inform me of what occurred and threaten me with fines loss of the auto, and nothing more.

                So now you get to make up laws from whole cloth. Seems to me they can charge (or “threaten”) you with a crime punishable by a fine and loss of license, with a hearing set to determine if you are guilty. They can (and should!) notify you that failing to appear carries contempt penalties up to and including jail.

                I think it’s ok you could be fined for dumping a car in NJ (seems fair if you hadn’t sold it). I think it’s ok that nonappearance in court is punishable by contempt. So I guess I’m a tyrant.

                In any case, I’m definitely worse than the guy who threatened to sue a towed-car lot in NJ for having the temerity to contact the car’s owner of record.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                @nevermoor

                Actually, his complaint comes well before all of that.

                The state should not be able to, or even want to, file criminal charges in response to what is clearly an administrative matter. This why others have brought up the CA experience, in that CA notifies the party of record that the vehicle has been impounded, you owe $X on it, and if you want it back, you pay $X by this date or your car gets sold at auction.

                Now I’m betting if CA, had an owner of record who routinely got these notices, or if a certain buyer was routinely mentioned in connection with such notices, then the state may want to consider a criminal investigation. But for one-off instances, the overt, stated threat of criminal penalties is excessive & petty.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m happy to agree that my state has more sensible abandoned-car laws than NJ. Seems like a car should have enough intrinsic value that it can be resold in a way that doesn’t create a massive financial burden from simply taking unwanted ones. No idea how it actually shakes out though.

                The problem with the chronology is that the complaint came first, then he called, then things weren’t cancelled before a hearing was set, then he called again, then everything was cancelled. So, as I’ve acknowledged before, it took a couple more touches than it should have but not too many more.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                No buddy, here’s the problem. Well educated professional I am I’ll take care of my business. That such a “system” can screw folks who aren’t chess master/snake charmers sucks.

                It’s why there are 1.2 million extant arrest warrants in NYC.

                See this and join the other side, please.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                “Well educated professional I am I’ll take care of my business. That such a “system” can screw folks who aren’t chess master/snake charmers sucks.”

                See, that’s the thing that I find most important here, as well. It’s not that the problem was easily resolved with a few short conversations. It’s that it took three law degrees to understand that this conversations were even possible, and a very good life situation to have them. Someone who is, say, a checkout-clerk worker at Acme might get a letter like this and go bonkers–oh god, I’m gonna go to jail! What can I do except pay this huge fine immediately?! And I have to do it on my spare time, too, because I certainly won’t get any time off from work to go deal with the issue.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Exactly.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                @nevermoor
                The problem with the chronology is that the complaint came first, then he called, then things weren’t cancelled before a hearing was set, then he called again, then everything was cancelled.

                Actually, the problem was, after he first contacted the police department about a letter they sent, and they correctly told him to ignore that letter, he refused, badgering a lot of people for no reason and with no effect.

                …while the information about the abandonment slowly made its way through the DA’s office and onto the court schedule.

                Then he got pissy later because the courts (an entirely separate branch of the government) sent him a summons and he went and did some more work talking to the previously-badgered police department to force them to contact the courts.

                Instead of just calling the courts, like any rational person would have done and the summons presumably directed him to do.

                As I pointed out below, he *still* doesn’t technically know he’s *not* still under a summons, because he keeps refusing to contact the court, instead forcing a poor beleaguered police officer to run point.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “instead forcing a poor beleaguered police officer to run point.”

                LOL. Like I could force a “poor beleaguered police officer” to do anything.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ll push back a little on this, since I don’t think it’s as true as you say that the cops can’t influence court cases (they probably did here, for example, though you’re right that there may still be a problem).

                I also don’t usually see court summonses that offer a “contact us” option instead of just “show up at [TIME] at risk of contempt.”

                I think he made one mistake (not following PA’s explicit title transfer rules, though I recognize they’re over-burdensome for a $300 sale and might have killed the deal as there would have been a transfer fee and/or tax assessed that was instead dodged by the informal transaction). He then compounded it by, as you say, contacting all sorts of people who have nothing to do with the root problem. Finally, he (probably, as you correctly cautioned) found someone with the interest and ability to save him a trip to court.

                The part that I find interesting is the PA transfer rule. I’m perfectly willing to believe that it is rarely honored (somewhat time consuming, not free, etc.) but here it is dismissed as not even a requirement. I think folks would have a lot less sympathy if this were a more common example of that: “I was doing 70 in a 55, like every other car on the road, but that asshole cop pulled ME over.” In both cases it might be best to change the underlying rarely-followed law, but also in both cases the person got caught breaking it. And here there isn’t even (an apparent) penalty for non-compliance other than an easily-foreseeable administrative kerfuffle.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Thank you.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                “(3) later have a run-in with the law (they sure aren’t sending bounty hunters for you).”

                Yes like pulling me over for failing to make a proper lane change and then noticing this bench warrant for my arrest, that relates to something I actually never did wrong or illegal. Or if illegal, something ridiculous, where the law is an ass.

                “When NJ found my car, they could seize it, inform me of what occurred and threaten me with fines loss of the auto, and nothing more.

                “So now you get to make up laws from whole cloth.”

                If you did your further research you’d see there IS a law on the books in NJ that states when an abandoned car is towed and not claim within 30 days after notice the state can apply for clear title.

                I never challenged that.

                I didn’t abandon this car. The State has proof of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” I have nothing to apologize for or should be in fear of.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jon Rowe
            Ignored
            says:

            When the thing happened with that charity, the state’s response was “Please fill out an affidavit of sale with this information” and that was that.

            Apparently they did not get the memo that “FISH YOU FOR NOT FOLLOWING THE RULES AND BEING A CHUMP!” is the proper response.Report

      • Avatar J R in reply to Jon Rowe
        Ignored
        says:

        A couple of years ago I sold a RV camper/trailer out in AZ. I had pictures of the buyer’s driver’s license, pictures of the title I signed over, etc. My cousin (a realtor) recommended all that, as did the notary who stamped the documents, as people had gotten in trouble because vehicles they had sold, when the title wasn’t transferred by the buyer, because that’s expensive, that’s when the STATE gets its share of the money.

        Then that vehicle was stopped for a random traffic violation, and then n kilos of powder drugs was found in the trunk or under a seat. Next, the registered owner of the vehicle gets SWAT team arrested for being a big-time commercial dealer of crack/cocaine/heroin/meth/etc, etc.

        If you don’t have ANY documentation of your sale, you are screwed.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
      Ignored
      says:

      “It looks like your experience took about one (maybe two) more interactions than minimally necessary to clear up a problem you created by not properly transferring title. It also sounds like you were unnecessarily belligerent (seriously, threatening to sue people for not cooperating to fix your mistake? Not a great strategy for getting help…).”

      Really, “my mistake?” So if you are driving 7 MPH over the speed limit and you are hit by a driver going the wrong way down the highway, that’s “your mistake” without mentioning the conduct of the other party involved.

      In tort law we have a concept called “comparative negligence.” The party who was an agent of a mutlibillion dollar company, skipped title, falsified the plates, … they were the “proximate cause” of this circumstance.Report

      • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
        Ignored
        says:

        Who hit you going the wrong way down the highway here?

        You failed to properly transfer title, so NJ was put in touch with you when your car was dumped. You then proved a sale, and they went away. Sounds about right to me.

        Also, I’m sure you know this and (for some reason) assume that I don’t, but comparative negligence is a theory for splitting responsibility between parties. The tow company isn’t suing you (heck, no one is!). The people contacting you are NJ law enforcement. Explain to me how they have any share of any negligence, because I sure don’t see any.Report

        • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
          Ignored
          says:

          “You failed to properly transfer title,”

          Please cite for me, instead of a general link, the exact language to which you are referring.

          As a fellow attorney, I disagree with you assertion. I actually did properly transfer title.Report

          • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
            Ignored
            says:

            Sorry, I’m not going to research out-of-state statutes for you. I’ll just observe that I doubt PA DMV made this easily-available easily-readable information up out of whole cloth.Report

            • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
              Ignored
              says:

              Well I looked at the link you provided me and failed to reach the same conclusion you did on the matter.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                SELLERS CHECKLIST
                ? TITLE: Complete Section A on the reverse side of the title, recording the purchaser’s name and address
                and odometer mileage. The seller must sign and print his/her name in the presence of an authorized agent.
                An authorized dealership may perform verification in lieu of notarization in Section A and Section D on the
                certificate of title.
                ? ODOMETER STATEMENT: Fill in the appropriate spaces in Section A.
                ? REGISTRATION PLATE: Remove the registration plate for transfer to another vehicle or return the plate to
                PennDOT.

                Sounds to me like you failed to do #1 or #3, and that coupled with the buyer’s failure to register their car meant that the PA DMV had no idea the car was transferred.

                What, exactly, should either government have done other than hold you accountable for the car (until you proved the sale)?Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                Hold me accountable how?

                The party to whom I sold my car was an authorized titling agent and I properly singed the title, and so on.

                Maybe you mean this:

                ” REGISTRATION PLATE: Remove the registration plate for transfer to another vehicle or return the plate to PennDOT.”

                The plate is sitting in my house. If PennDot wants it, they can ask for it and I’ll give it to them. They never sent me legal notice asking for it. Oh… I guess they don’t always dot their i’s and cross their t’s like the rest of us.

                You think that for this I should potentially be sitting in a Trenton Jail and have my driving privileges in NJ suspended for up to 5 years?

                You are defending bureaucratic tyranny. Go ahead, try to nail me on a loophole. Everyone has these loopholes they can be nailed with, including you.

                The better question is, 1. why these rules, and 2. what then.?Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                Hold me accountable how?

                By assuming the dumped car belongs to you.

                If PennDot wants it, they can ask for it and I’ll give it to them.

                Why should they want it? It’s relevant only because returning it would have signaled to them that the car isn’t yours any more.

                I should potentially be sitting in a Trenton Jail

                Right, because you have absolutely no agency or responsibility to appear at a properly-set court date. I’m glad you don’t advise my clients…

                Go ahead, try to nail me on a loophole. Everyone has these loopholes they can be nailed with, including you.

                Not a loophole. The only issue here is that PA had no idea you sold the car, so you were the target of NJ’s enforcement. The only way jail comes in is if you completely refuse to comply. But you sure do like playing the martyr don’t you?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                @nevermoor

                The only way jail comes in is if you completely refuse to comply.

                Umm, he did comply. The NJ system dropped the ball by failing to talk to amongst it’s various organs. The aggravation comes from the fact that NJ dropped the ball, but the citizen is the one threatened with arrest & criminal charges.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, he did comply. And he didn’t go to jail.

                The only ball NJ dropped was not taking the court hearing off calendar (or not stopping the calendaring process). Which is a good thing to have happen (and what ultimately did happen) but not anyone’s civil right. If the detective had been less helpful, the only consequence would have been a trip to court and a dismissal.

                All I’m saying, which should be uncontroversial, is that jail isn’t the consequence of the sale (or of “not doing anything wrong”), but rather a potential consequence of failing to appear in court.

                I’m glad he didn’t have to appear (it would have been wasteful and unnecessary), and it would have been nice had the first response settled things, but the claim wasn’t “I was inconvenienced.” It was way stronger and a supposed indictment of everyone except himself.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                But still, why was it even put on the calendar in the first place?

                Perhaps if governments who are so quick to place people on court calendars had to pay for wasting people’s time when they showed up and the issue was quickly dismissed, they’d exercise a touch of restraint toward employing that system to enforce timely compliance.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I think it would be better if they didn’t. I’d support that reform!

                Given that that seems to be how NJ handles these kinds of minor violations, though, it’s hard to get too upset that it happened here. There may even be some reason NJ does so, that I have no way to understand.

                None of this gets OP to “they threatened to throw me in jail even though I did nothing wrong!!!!11” though.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                But still, why was it even put on the calendar in the first place?

                Because a damn crime was committed with a vehicle and as far as the state knew, he had committed the crime? So a date was scheduled for his trial, and then, later he got another notice telling him that.

                Seriously, it’s like no one here has ever had any interaction with the court system or knows anything at all, which is rather baffled, as Jon is supposed to be a *lawyer*.

                His main complaint here is that, even after a detective told him everything would be ‘fine’, that he still might be forced to show up in court.

                Firstly, it’s actually somewhat reasonable that he might *still* have to show in court, because the prosecutor (unlike the detective) doesn’t believe him. Or maybe they simply want him to repeat everything under oath, to finger the company he sold it to, because that company says they *didn’t* buy it.

                He, being a lawyer, does understand that people with *knowledge of crimes* have to show in court all the time, even if they’re not the guilty party? (And, yes, they will be arrested if they fail to appear.) The detective didn’t say ‘And we will never need to interact with you ever again’, the detective said he, personally, understood and believed what had happened. That easily could *still* result in Jon having to show in court!

                Secondly, oh no, he had to make another phone call and get his summons pulled. My god, the horror.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m as active in my emails as I am on these threads. I was a bit put off because after giving meticulous CC’d emails and phone calls to the various parties I still got 3 summonses as though none of that happened.

                I was not being asked to show up in court as a witness, but as the guilty party, which I was not, and to which I provided smoking gun evidence that I was not.

                It wasn’t me having to “show up in court” that was the problem, but show up in the context of having to fight tickets, the conduct of which was someone else’s fault after I meticulously informed the requisite parties of such information.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                I didn’t go to jail because I am a well educated upper middle class attorney who knows how to deal with the system.

                I am not part of the 1.2 million in NYC who have extant arrest warrants.

                Sure, some of them deserve to be hauled in and punished. But what %?

                YOU are defending THAT system that makes criminals out of too many folks, those who suffer the worst of such are marginalized.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                @jon-rowe
                I didn’t go to jail because I am a well educated upper middle class attorney who knows how to deal with the system.

                No, you didn’t go to *court* because of that.

                Anyone else would have *showed up in court* at the correct time and thus not gone to jail either. You do understand the ‘go to jail’ was a threatened punishment for *not showing up in court*, right? Not a punishment for the crime? (You are actually a lawyer, right?)

                If they showed in court, even if they had been somehow found guilty (Which they probably wouldn’t have been) and had been hit with the max penalty, the worse punishment would have been loss of driving privileges, not jail time.

                Swearing out warrants and throwing people in jail for ignoring court summons sounds harsh out of context, but it is literally the only way the court system can operate. (Which I sorta expect lawyers to know.)

                I am not part of the 1.2 million in NYC who have extant arrest warrants.

                Then those people should show up to the damn court when it summons them.

                There is an actual problem of people not being *notified* enough, and thus missing court appearances they don’t know about…but that’s not what happened here. You want to complain about poor notification, go ahead, but I don’t think a story in which you were actually notified correctly is the example to use.

                In driver’s ed in high school, my class had it pounded into their head that they must *always* keep their driver’s license address up to date, because otherwise they’d miss a ticket…and miss a summons…and suddenly they’re driving on a suspended licenses without knowing it.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “Swearing out warrants and throwing people in jail for ignoring court summons sounds harsh out of context, but it is literally the only way the court system can operate.”

                That is bullshit. If you don’t show up to court, you can have a default judgment registered against you, and then let the state collect.

                But no, I don’t think it’s okay that if someone fails to pay a ticket or misses a court date and is later stopped for an improper lane change that they can be thrown in jail (in my case, a jail in Trenton, NJ). Or that such is the only way the court system can operate.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                I actually agree with you here.
                When dealing with fees and fines, there isn’t need for jail.

                What happened to you actually did happen to me here in CA.
                I sold a car, the owner didn’t register it, I got a parking ticket, which I fought and lost, then had my tax refund dinged by the amount.

                PITA, but not violence.

                But notice what is happening here, and reference my comment on Burt’s thread, that what starts out as an expansive claim about “the bureaucratic morass” arguing for some form of libertarianism, eventually boils down to a simpler, narrower complaint- “we should handle fees and fines differently”.

                Yeah, we should.

                And we should use the maximum jackboot of state violence on agri-corporations that enslave farmworkers because, damn.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                If you don’t show up to court, you can have a default judgment registered against you, and then let the state collect.

                Uh, actually, if you didn’t show in court, you *would have* had a default judgement registered against you, and the state would have collected. That is what would have happened in all likelihood.

                You have confused a generic warning printed on every summons that they *can* do something with some sort of *promise* that they *would* do that thing.

                But no, I don’t think it’s okay that if someone fails to pay a ticket or misses a court date and is later stopped for an improper lane change that they can be thrown in jail (in my case, a jail in Trenton, NJ).

                First of all, I have no idea what sort of issue you’re having with Trenton, NJ’s jail. I thought at first that was a joke, but you keep saying it, so I’m forced to conclude that you think someone like _you_ shouldn’t have to end up in a _Trenton_ jail, which is a) completely absurd, if you’re arrested you’ll obviously end up in the jail of whatever place arrests you, and b) starting to sound somewhat racist, or classist, or something. I don’t even know.

                Anyway, if you want to make a point about people *not getting notification* of their summons, that would be an entirely reasonable thing to complain about…except you used an example where you *were* correctly notified.

                Likewise, some people get a notice, but cannot possibly make it to that time and place, or have extreme hardship doing that, and the courts won’t work with them…and, again, I’m not sure using an example where you were able to get to court to *completely drop the summons* advances that argument.

                You want to make the argument that the courts should do a better job of notifying people, and if the person does not show up, the courts should err on the side ‘Maybe they didn’t know’, I’m all for that. I agree completely. But, uh, that’s hardly the point you’ve been making, and has nothing to do with what you’ve been complaining about. You *were* notified, and you *could* have gone…and you ended up not having to.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                I wonder if you really read anything I’ve been saying here:

                But, uh, that’s hardly the point you’ve been making, and has nothing to do with what you’ve been complaining about. You *were* notified, and you *could* have gone…and you ended up not having to.

                I’m not part of the 1.2 million, but I could have been; and that’s because I had to do meticulous work to make sure I was in the clear. I did nothing illegal.

                If I took the attitude since I did nothing illegal, I’ll disregard this summonses, or if the summons were lost in the mail, or if I moved, or was out of the country, on vacation, etc., a bench warrant WOULD be issued for my arrest. That’s what courts DO when you don’t show up for petty ticket issues.

                As I noted in the OP I actually DID take action in May but still got summonsed anyway.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                If I took the attitude since I did nothing illegal, I’ll disregard this summonses, or if the summons were lost in the mail, or if I moved, or was out of the country, on vacation, etc., a bench warrant WOULD be issued for my arrest. That’s what courts DO when you don’t show up for petty ticket issues.

                And, I ask for like the fifth time: What do you think should be changed here?

                Should the summons they send not *warn* you of this? (Which you persist in calling ‘threatening you’.)

                Should the power to issue bench warrants by judges be removed for certain infractions? What would make people *actually pay* them?

                Why are you pretending your case required magical lawyer powers to navigate, when in actuality it just required SHOWING UP IN COURT, and, tada, no bench warrant?

                What the *hell* does any of this have to do with ‘bureaucracy’?

                You appear completely unable to answer these questions.

                As I have already said, courts should err on the side of assuming that, if someone, after receiving a single notification from the court, doesn’t show up in court, either the postal system or the person most likely screwed up somehow, vs. them attempting to flee from justice, and should try notifying them again. Or, even better, when they’re notified, have them contact the court, and work from there, and if they never do contact the court, assume they didn’t get the notice and have them be served manually.

                This…doesn’t have anything to do with too much bureaucracy (If anything, the solution is *more* bureaucracy), and doesn’t have anything to do with what happened with you, because you actually got the summons and understood how important it was. (And then proceeded to complain it warned you about serious consequences.)Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                What I think should have happened was in May, when I contacted and gave meticulous information to the police, Geico, and the 2 towing companies and then sent information to the police I didn’t do what I was being charged with, the case would have ended there, with no further need for action.

                [I didn’t contract Trenton Municipal Court because at this point they wouldn’t have known what I was talking about because they wouldn’t have yet gotten the information.]

                And no, I don’t believe in “the system” that can result in massive amounts of bench warrants for arrests due to petty issues like mine. And I don’t believe in potential harshness of punishments like 5 year suspension of driving privileges for situations like this.

                So I have answered your questions you claimed “appear completely unable to answer”?

                [Note: if you want to have an extended discussion on the ‘bureaucracy’ issue, we can do it later, perhaps I’ll post a new OP that will open the discussion.]Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                (I didn’t contract Trenton Municipal Court because at this point they wouldn’t have known what I was talking about because they wouldn’t have yet gotten the information.)

                And, yet, you somehow expect a cop (that doesn’t have anything to do with the case) to be able to stop that case from existing, before it exists. Somehow.

                And no, I don’t believe in “the system” that can result in massive amounts of bench warrants for arrests due to petty issues like mine. And I don’t believe in potential harshness of punishments like 5 year suspension of driving privileges for situations like this.

                And neither of those has anything to do with ‘bureaucracy’ whatsoever. Nor anything to actually do with your story, where they *did* notify you properly, and *did* (apparently) listen to your story and call of the case.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                I failed to answer this passage, but it hits on an important point:

                “The only issue here is that PA had no idea you sold the car,…”

                They actually did have notice that I cancelled my insurance that day and the registration was not renewed.

                And I received no notice from the State of PA on their lack of knowledge or demand for the license plate to be returned.

                When your car’s registration isn’t renewed and insurance is cancelled, the state has the burden to inform the individual of their non-compliance with suggestions for returning plates. I received no official notice from them.

                I already informed everyone who the culpable party was (the towing agent of Geico’s).

                I’m not sure why you are picking on me for a minor issue, when we’ve already identified the primary party at fault. That was my point on comparative negligence (it was an analogy; we don’t nail the party who was going 7 MPH over the speed limit when hit by a wrong way driver; we nail the other guy chiefly at fault).

                “The only way jail comes in is if you completely refuse to comply.”

                Look, I’ve filed no lawsuit. The only thing I did was what the state did to me: THREATEN.

                I would never “not comply” in the sense you invoke.

                The problem is many people — for instance, English is their 2nd language, stuff gets lost in the mail — do get and disregard these notices, not out of bad faith, but just out of habit. They are the parties to whom the 1.2 million arrest warrants in NYC are chiefly directed.

                It’s a bullshit system.Report

          • Avatar notme in reply to Jon Rowe
            Ignored
            says:

            Did you sign the title over? Giving a bill of sale isn’t the same.Report

            • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to notme
              Ignored
              says:

              Yes I signed title over to them and they gave me a bill of sale. That’s what’s customary. The towing company skipped title.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                I signed title over to them and they gave me a bill of sale. That’s what’s customary.

                My Dad, btw, after having been burned says he ALWAYS goes to the Titling Agency.

                So your view of “customary” doesn’t even hold within your own family. And somehow two different states are supposed to (somehow, you never quite get around to how) defer to your assertion of custom?Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                At this point I wonder why I should continue engaging you, or whether you are just a troll.

                For anyone who cares, I mentioned my personal circumstance to illustrate that there’s a world of folks who learned the system, do their best to comply with it (though no one can do so perfectly) and get rewarded by doing so. (In the sense they are screwed less often than others and can secure their place in upper middle class American life.)

                And then there’s the world of other folks who aren’t as good at snake charming. (The 1.2 million.)

                I’m not sure what your politics are, but the line of reasoning you are presenting to me is what’s screwing these folks. If I can’t survive your standard of review, these folks sure can’t.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                Clearly we’re done engaging productively.

                You’re the victim and no personal responsibility should attach to you for anything. My mistake.

                Cheers!Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes I shouldn’t be threatened with jail because after legally selling my car to an agent of Geico’s (wherein I signed over the title) I failed to tell the PA DMV and send my plates to them even as the PA DMV failed to note the registration of the car expired and it was no longer insured and they therefore didn’t inform me of this in the context of asking for my license plate, complete with sending me the proper mailing forms (like a self enclosed stamped envelope) where I could send the plates over to them.

                That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                You weren’t threatened with jail for abandoning a car, you ****. The threat of jail was for ignoring a court summons.

                LIKE EVERY SINGLE SUMMONS HAS ON IT.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                You weren’t threatened with jail for abandoning a car, you twit

                And again. I dunno where Dave is, so I’ll just channel him and say, “Dude, chill out.”Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                @chris

                And again. I dunno where Dave is, so I’ll just channel him and say, “Dude, chill out.”

                I’m slow. I still need to get back to you on something.

                Anyway, thanks for stepping in. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “Ignoring”?

                How can it be confirmed that I actually got the “summons”? Maybe I don’t speak English well; maybe I moved to a different location; maybe the summons was lost in the mail?

                And no, not “every” summons threatens this; sometimes, you just get nailed with a default judgment if you don’t show up to court (usually in civil cases).

                Why do you feel the need to insult me and call me a “****”?

                Do you want to provoke me into calling you a “****”? As in a tit for tat **** for **** context?Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Yep. So people can see this in practice, any attorney in California (the state where I practice) can issue one of these to anyone we think might be helpful in a case. If they fail to show, that’s possibly contempt (up to five days in jail – CCP 1218). (Note: this is the same penalty as for “Disobedience of any lawful judgment, order, or process of the court.” – CCP 1209(a)(5))

                And I’m not even a judge. It’s just the way the legal system works.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to nevermoor
      Ignored
      says:

      From the OP:

      ” In NYC alone there are 1.2 million extant arrest warrants for issues like this.”

      Hmm, since when was NYC a bastion of the GOP? I guess taxes aren’t high enough in NYC. Maybe that can be a new campaign slogan: Reduce bureaucracy-raise taxes!Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Everything worked out because you did what the authorities asked of you without getting mouthy until you were in the privacy of your own home on your own internet.

    This is proof that the authorities are not tyrannous.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      I wasn’t mouthy with the cops. I was with the 3 other private parties. That I couldn’t be “mouthy” with the authorities is part of the problem. Yes, I could say what I wanted to them. But they could then “not cooperate” because of their power.Report

  7. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I find it hard to believe that there is no form in NJ by which the seller of a vehicle can tell the DMV “I declare that I have sold this vehicle to so-and-so on such-and-such date. I disclaim further ownership interest in this vehicle.” Because not everyone who buys a vehicle is going to do the paperwork a buyer should.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      I sold the car in PA; but it ended up illegally for sale in NJ. I don’t think such a form exists. Analogously, it’s like when you trade your car in and sign over one of the many sheets to the seller for “title work.”

      Almost everyone I have spoken to on this matter has informed, 1. you get the title and sign the proper lines; and 2. the person gives you cash, and 3. you go.

      My Dad, btw, after having been burned says he ALWAYS goes to the Titling Agency. This is easier in PA where we permit private parties (like AAA) to do such work.

      In NJ, you have to go to the DMV and potentially wait hours in line (with some strange weirdos you don’t necessarily know).Report

  8. Avatar John Howard Griffin
    Ignored
    says:

    This is interesting and I have a question.

    First, let me prepare for the question:

    In August of 2014, I sold my car to an agent of Geico’s, who came to my house in Bucks County, PA, and I signed title to over to them.

    Geico’s agent, a local towing company, asked how much WBAC would pay.

    But this company apparently skipped title and it was later observed by the police parked on the streets of Trenton with a “for sale sign,” a PA inspection, and, fake NJ license plates. The registration, unfortunately was traceable to me.

    This is why 1. I often don’t vote; and 2. when I do it’s usually Libertarian.

    Ok, now the question: Why don’t you have the same feelings and perform the same actions against corporations?

    This had everything to do with corporations and very little to do with government. I call bullshit on your system.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to John Howard Griffin
      Ignored
      says:

      No, the State has more options at its command that it can use against me and more defense like the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity to prevent me from defending myself against it.Report

      • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jon Rowe
        Ignored
        says:

        I like how I asked a question that began “Why…” and your answer is “No”.

        Nice conversing with you, Mr. Rowe.Report

        • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to John Howard Griffin
          Ignored
          says:

          Hmm. There is a reason I when I contacted the private entities including Geico I was stronger with them than I was with the Trenton Police Dept. You can figure it out.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to John Howard Griffin
          Ignored
          says:

          @john-howard-griffin –

          I like how I asked a question that began “Why…” and your answer is “No”.

          First, a rhetorical point only – in fairness, while I agree your question was technically not answered, you did phrase your query in such a way that a non-response to your question was nearly-guaranteed, by adding a final two sentences in which you presuppose that your read of the situation at hand is obviously and unambiguously the only correct one (“This had everything to do with corporations and very little to do with government”), and then tacking on a final call of “bullshit” on @jon-rowe ‘s “system” (political? personal? all of the above?); this stacking of the deck, followed by what looks like an offhand bomb toss at the man, almost preordains a “No” in initial response, in my experience.

          In short, the way you phrased things, was IMO a significant factor in the conversation being erroneously and bureaucratically re-routed from the Argument Clinic, to plain old Contradictions, just down the hall. 😉

          Now, there’s nothing *inherently* wrong with that; if you’ve already seen the facts and made up your mind, it’s fine to conclude that any conversation is probably fruitless, and even pass judgement on someone else’s “system” on your way out.

          But it’s not totally cricket IMO to then claim that it’s the *other person* who’s not being responsive in continuing the dialogue.

          Secondly, on the substance of your question (though not necessarily the case at hand) – as a libertarianish guy myself, I have been asked multiple times some variant of your question, as to why I often do not I view the bad actions of corporations with *quite* the same level of alarm or outrage that I do those of government, and my answer remains that while I do condemn the bad actions of corporations, and I generally support boycotts of them for any reason or no good reason at all, the fact remains that here in the U.S. corporations do not (yet) have the ability to come to my house with guns, and either shoot me or lock me in a small concrete room for the rest of my life.

          I also (mostly) have more freedom to choose which corporations to engage with and which ones not to; unlike the relevant governments, to which I am wedded until death do me part (or such time as I move to Somalia).

          In short – to screw one person forever, or a whole bunch of them at once, you still *mostly* need the reach, arms, and legal cover of a government. My weapons and recourses against a private corporation are generally far more varied and effective, IMO.

          ETA – ARGH, I missed that you were replicating Jon’s “bullshit” from the OP, which removes my objection to that bit. My apologies, and consider the first half of my comment mostly retracted accordingly. My bad, I claim a fever.Report

  9. Avatar Doctor Jay
    Ignored
    says:

    You know, something very similar to this happened to me a long time ago. I graduated from grad school in CA, and got a job on the other side of the country, in VA. I bought a new car, and got them to give me 100 bucks on tradein for my 15-year-old Datsun 510 SW.

    Maybe 6 months later, a notice from the CA DMV showed up at my residence in VA. My car had been found abandoned on the streets of SF. If I did not reply or pay the outstanding bills for towing, and the fine, the car would be confiscated and sold. I wrote them and told them that it wasn’t my car any more, and if they wanted to impound and sell it, that was just fine with me.

    This closed the matter. This is, to my opinion, a much better response to the issue. No warrants were issued, no carbon copy letters sent, no phone calls. Just – if you want your car back, pay up.

    That seems right to me. Maybe abandonments are so common in NJ that this policy was seen as ineffective? I don’t know.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Doctor Jay
      Ignored
      says:

      I had a similar experience with CA. When I went to WI on leave, I had a motorcycle still in CA that I was fixing. While in WI I got into my motorcycle wreck. I few months later, while still at Great Lakes rehabbing, I got the letter that my bike had been towed & would be sold at auction unless I paid the towing & fines.

      I let them have the bike, it wasn’t worth the towing charge or the fines. No threats of jail or anything.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Doctor Jay
      Ignored
      says:

      This. There are easier ways to handle this sort of situation, and there are difficult ways to handle the situation. I’ve lived in several states and I’ve seen both at work. It doesn’t have to be the way it was described here, no matter how tempted some are to say “Just follow the rules!!!!!”

      I’ve personally been dealing with a situation with our state DMV because they improperly transposed the VIN on my wife’s car. That was compounded by my own error in not rectifying the situation as quickly as I should have. At one point, the situation got so bad that we actually pondered just abandoning the car. We had no title because our previous registration had been voided due to a lack of title, and we could not get a title on a car that had never been registered. Yes, it could have been avoided had I gone to the Sheriff’s office within 90 days and had them sign a verification document, but the sheer monstrosity of the situation could also have been avoided by having a procedure in place that accounts for human error (without extracting a pound of flesh), whether theirs or mine.

      The situation did resolve, though somehow the re-registration never went through. Which may have been my fault. (My best guess is that we thought registration had occurred when the title finally went through, when in fact we were supposed to go back with the title in hand and did not.)

      (Lest this comment sound like a general hatred of civil servants, it was actually solved by same. The county assessor’s office, of all people, knew exactly what I needed to do and guided me through the DMV’s own process while the DMV was saying “Sorry, we just can’t help you. You really should have gotten the VIN verification in to us sooner.”)Report

  10. Avatar CJColucci
    Ignored
    says:

    ” REGISTRATION PLATE: Remove the registration plate for transfer to another vehicle or return the plate to PennDOT.”

    The plate is sitting in my house. If PennDot wants it, they can ask for it and I’ll give it to them. They never sent me legal notice asking for it. Oh… I guess they don’t always dot their i’s and cross their t’s like the rest of us.

    This is pathetic.

    So far the only thing you’ve been trying to pin me with is failure to inform PA DMV that I lawfully sold my car to another party and failed to send my license plates in.

    (Arguably it’s their responsibility to notify me of this and send postage paid materials for me to use to send the plates back to them.)

    This is even more pathetic.Report

  11. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    @nevermoor , etc.

    The point Jon is not making well is not that Jon is a martyr because he failed to do all he was expected to do by the bureaucracy & was at risk of criminal charges. It is, rather, that Jon Rowe, as a well educated attorney, made a mistake & was epicly annoyed by bureaucratic inertia, but he was able to be annoyed precisely because he is a well educated attorney.

    If this happened to Juanita Rodriguez, a poor single mother of three whose English is not the best, there is a very good chance this would not have ended with annoyance, but with a mother in jail, kids in the foster care system, and possibly no one save a public defender to help her sort the mess out.

    Jon Rowe, even if he was arrested, could manage the system & get clear of the morass relatively quickly and with minimal harm done. His firm (if he works for someone) would recognize the trouble, see that it’s a muck up, and probably not penalize Jon overmuch. Juanita Rodriguez has no money, no connections, and after getting arrested and spending a night in jail, probably no kids & no job for a good long while.

    The systems petty injustices can annoy us, they can easily, carelessly, casually destroy the poor, and serve to perpetuate the cycle of poverty.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Oscar Gordon
      Ignored
      says:

      I agree completely that she’s a real problem. And that’s why I’ve been consistently supportive of changes to both PA’s transfer policy (not sure if they have a functional website, but there should be something as simple as a button to say you sold your car; at worst a fill-able form along with other options) and NJ’s policy of scheduling a court date rather than defaulting to an informal resolution where the unclaimed car simply becomes state property. There’s no solution to the failure-to-appear problem that I can see, as courts need to be able to enforce their orders.

      It’s also why I think official forms should be printed and served in multiple languages, why I think taxes are the best way to support government, and why I’m glad the cops can work things out (and why the issue of police discrimination is so important). Last, it’s why I donate to local legal clinics for disadvantaged folks who need this sort of routine help.

      Unlike the above, I don’t see any proposed solutions from team libertarian (least of all the OP).

      I certainly hope she would have been able to avoid jail here, and ideally without losing a day of work to appear in court. It certainly goes the other way too often (and there are plenty more egregious real examples in Ferguson, which is by no means unique in the country)

      For example, in 2007, one woman received two parking tickets that – together – totaled $152. To date, she has paid $550 in fines and fees to the city of Ferguson. She’s been arrested twice for having unpaid tickets, and spent six days in jail. Yet she still – inexplicably – owes Ferguson $541. And her story is only one of dozens of similar accounts that our investigation uncovered.

      Or, lest people think that CA is some panacea of fairness on this, it isn’t.

      Fees and fines are being assessed for low-level offenses — a broken tail light, speeding, jaywalking . But what looks like a $100 ticket comes with some hefty add-ons: Once you tack on all the automatic state and county fees, that $100 total jumps to $490. If you miss your court date or deadline to pay, the fine jumps again, to $815.

      But the solution to this isn’t to whine about a personal inconvenience or to disengage from politics by not voting. It certainly isn’t to self-righteously threaten to sue everyone involved. It’s to make this kind of stuff an issue WHEN/WHERE IT HAPPENS TO VULNERABLE PEOPLE (see Ferguson protests; Holder’s investigation, etc.) and then fix it. Which is hard, but at least possible. And we seem to be making some progress recently.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to nevermoor
        Ignored
        says:

        It kind of feels like “lest people think California is a panacea of fairness…” is aimed at my comment. What I said was, “this is what happened to me, and it seems a lot better, and it happened to take place in California”.

        And you then apparently felt that you needed to throw some mud at California, which isn’t all that relevant to the discussion, but was important to you for some reason. I’m curious as to what that reason is.

        I live in CA once again now, and I’m well aware of many, but certainly not all, of my state’s shortcomings. Sometimes they get addressed, and things get better. Sometimes not. This is the way of things.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Doctor Jay
          Ignored
          says:

          They hate us for our freedoms, @doctor-jay . (And the plentiful avocados.)Report

        • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Doctor Jay
          Ignored
          says:

          I live there and you and I both have been talking about how CA is better on the specific issue encountered by the OP. That’s all.

          Also, I’m making a point about how raising awareness is important. Would be kind of hypocritical to ignore shortcomings in the state where I live at the same time.Report

          • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to nevermoor
            Ignored
            says:

            Well, okay.

            I’ve been in online voice-chat discussions where someone in authority (a guild leader) declared, apropos of almost nothing: “Everyone in California is a faggot.” I made no response. What I wanted to say was, “And if I said that everyone from Oklahoma or wherever it is you live was a redneck hayseed, how would you feel about that?” But it wasn’t the time to start such a discussion.

            I’ve also told someone (again in voice chat) I was from California and have them respond, “I’m sorry.” In that case, the speaker was from Utah, and I replied, “I’m not. I haven’t spent much time in Utah, but what I’ve seen is beautiful.”

            This successfully turned that conversation around.

            I don’t think anybody has to apologize for where they live.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to nevermoor
        Ignored
        says:

        This is why I like you Nevermoor, we do a good job of arguing about things we pretty much already agree on.

        I would say that the Libertarian solution is to establish a norm within law that (and excuse me if I mess up the lingo) Mens Rea actually matters/that strict liability laws are not instantly criminal matters. It seems that this has slipped quite a bit, and an awful lot of law/regulation heads straight to criminal charges (IIRC this is a trend that started with Jim Crowe, although perhaps even further back that that).

        I hope that is clear, and I apologize if it isn’t.

        Anyway, that solution involves getting enough people to see it as a problem. I think the impacted populations get it, and there are a lot of people on the right & left who are much less impacted by it that get it in the abstract, and see it as a problem, but still don’t… feel it’s a problem, at least not enough to agitate for it to change. They still see such things as tools of law enforcement to get the bad guys (with the implied assumption that good guys have no trouble meeting the demands to clear it all up), or they see it as rules necessary to keep things moving smoothly (with the implied assumption that the people who have trouble meeting the demands will find a sympathetic person who will help get it all sorted).

        I want people to see it for what it is, an injustice. Government exists to make life easier for the citizens, citizens do not exist to serve the whims of government. I think as the bureaucracy grows, the Iron Law begins to assert itself and the bureaucracy stops doing much more than paying lip service to the ideal of service. So we get a system like NJ, where an abandoned car can quickly lead to criminal charges. This happens because the bureaucracy does not wish to feel like it’s being ignored, and nothing gets the attention of most people like the threat of courts & jail.

        And yes, I truly do think that is what is at the heart of much of this nowadays. There is no justifiable reason to even attach the threat of criminal charges to an administrative issue absent some pretty significant bad behavior on the part of the citizen (like ignoring multiple attempts at communication, etc.). But if a bureaucracy has the authority to threaten criminal charges, chances are it will employ it early & often just because it makes people more responsive*. It also destroys trust in government, but things run smoothly…

        So anyway, it may sound like just bleating, but I think Jon’s point was to show that these issues can impact all populations, that all populations should be concerned and they should be agitating for a more compassionate bureaucracy**, one that doesn’t act as if every cross-threading of citizen & government is a hair’s breath from criminality.

        *I mean, before a warrant is issued, why can’t a process server be employed to make sure that the person in question is clearly informed that they need to take care of something?

        **This is not to level this criticism at every bureaucracy. Many do an admirable job & truly keep involvement with LEA & the courts as the last resort. But those that don’t should be called out and pressured to change.Report

        • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          First off, thanks. I feel the same way.

          Second, I think there are two problems with the remainder: (1) I’m not sure how the mens rea element plays here. I don’t want to over-focus on the specific instance, but I do think it’s illustrative. There’s a dumped car with illegal plates, cops get involved because it might be stolen, cops tow car and identify owner (as far as they know). At that point I don’t see much difference between strict owner liability and specific intent (the owner intended to park the car and leave it there). I guess it would be different if OP was held accountable even though he wasn’t the owner (super-strict liability) but that’s not what happened.; (2) how would libertarians change the system so that Juanita Rodriguez isn’t screwed (legitimately curious, not hypothetical)?

          I think the primary way you and I differ, and this isn’t at all original, is that I think you can have good bureaucracy. Indeed, I’d say that CA’s DMV is a pretty solid example. You can do most things online. You can do a LOT more by mail. And when you really have to go in (in my life-long CA residency, only once for ID photos, once for my driving test, and once to register an out-of-state car) you can make a free appointment and be through the place pretty efficiently. Last time, I came away amazed by how many different things are going on there without too much problem.

          When (as certainly happens) bureaucracy doesn’t work well, my instinct is to try to fix it rather than to remove the government function (though I fully support streamlining like auto-registration that will both cut out significant bureaucratic effort AND better-provide a service).Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          @oscar-gordon
          There is no justifiable reason to even attach the threat of criminal charges to an administrative issue absent some pretty significant bad behavior on the part of the citizen (like ignoring multiple attempts at communication, etc.). But if a bureaucracy has the authority to threaten criminal charges, chances are it will employ it early & often just because it makes people more responsive*. It also destroys trust in government, but things run smoothly…

          The ‘bureaucracy’ is not the one threatening anything. The court is *warning* people, in the summons, that neglecting to appear in court when summoned can have *very serious* consequences.

          Next up: Police officers constantly threaten people during arrest that things the person says can be used against them in a court of law! We must stop these outrageous threats!

          Should the court *not* warn people that ‘bad things can happen’, and people just be startled when a judge issues a bench warrant because they didn’t show up in court? ‘What do you mean, they can arrest me for that?! No one told me!’

          Or is the theory that the courts should be *barred* from issuing bench warrants and/or additional fines for contempt…when? Perhaps we could have some sort of trial about whether or not they can issue bench warrants? (How would we get the defendants to show up? We could invent some sort of super summons..and punish people for not obeying that?)

          Or is the complaint that judges *are* having people who don’t show in court for fines arrested? Is there any evidence of this at all?Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    In other tyranny news, the prison worker who pleaded guilty to helping two convicted killers escape will get to keep her pension.

    http://www.whec.com/news/stories/S3865214.shtmlReport

  13. Avatar LWA
    Ignored
    says:

    Maybe I missed it in the comments but what is the suggested remedy here that libertarianism or for that matter any political system offer?

    Wouldn’t a minarchist system still have a method of keeping track of proprty and still enforce violations of parking laws, and wouldn’t there still be unscrupulous people and wouldn’t there still be people who act in error?

    A lot of this sounds like “come the revolution the clerks will not make mistakes”.

    The draconian action described sounds exactly like the thing minarchist agree is the proper purview of the state, i.e. enforcement of violation of property rights.Report

  14. Avatar ktward
    Ignored
    says:

    This is why 1. I often don’t vote; and 2. when I do it’s usually Libertarian.

    Crikey. Yet another cynic. Sigh.

    Governance is very different, state to state. As an attorney, surely you know this. (As a veteran of child support issues, I can personally attest to this.) If you want consistency, you’ll have to find a way to be okay with a way bigger Fed footprint. Not okay with that? Then you get what you get.

    Your OP reads like a victim’s lament, but I interpreted your account as incredibly fortuitous for you, thanks to your particular socio-economic position of which you repeatedly remind us. (Your gratuitous homage to folks who are obviously either less capable or fastidious really seems like an afterthought.)

    I’ve experienced pathological i-dotters and t-crossers. Up close and personal in my family. (It’s actually a DSM thing.) They get seriously hinky when their perceived i-dotting and t-crossing yields unpleasant or inconvenient results.

    I read this OP through that lens.

    All that said, I genuinely appreciate your contributions here, Jon. (I read American Creation long before you showed up here.)Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to ktward
      Ignored
      says:

      Thank you for your positive comments about my contributions and American Creation.

      Note: Relatively privileged people can be screwed by the system as well. Yes, privilege is relative. I’m upper middle class but not “rich.” And even rich folks’ $ can only go so far in solving their problems (that’s a problem for them; they rebel thinking they can get bailed out, throw $ at the problem, get it solved, continue to rebel worse and worse and then $ can no longer solve their problems or they get cut loose from the source).

      In my circumstance, the poorer and more blue collar oriented folks do have one distinct advantage over me: I think they’d do better in a Trenton jail. But who knows, maybe I have an inner G. Gordon Liddy in me waiting to come out.Report

  15. Avatar DavidTC
    Ignored
    says:

    Wow, what a whiney whiney bullshit post.

    Here are the actual facts:

    1) Abandoning a car is illegal.
    2) A car registered to you was found abandoned.

    Do the damn math. Of course you were ‘threatened’ with having to appear in court. It’s a miracle you *didn’t* have to appear in court.

    But, I must point out, having to appear in court is not the end of the world.

    And you weren’t threatened with being thrown in jail for abandoning your car. You were, like *everyone else*, threatened to be thrown in jail if you ignored a damn summons. The same threat that every single person in the US that has ever been summoned to court has received, you twit.

    Jesus Christ. A lawyer, thinking it’s reasonable for people to be able to ignore court summons.

    Meanwhile, I, somehow, as a non-lawyer, know you can’t just hand your car over to someone else without transferring the damn title and registration, because, duh, if they go and commit a crime with it (And you’re *really* lucky the crime was just abandonment instead of hit and run or getaway drive), the police will assume you did it.

    I am *completely* baffled by the number of people here who don’t appear to grasp that the government *knows* who owns a car, and if someone else takes ownership of said car, the government needs to be notified. I’m really quite amazed at this brain failure of half the people here.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to DavidTC
      Ignored
      says:

      The same threat that every single person in the US that has ever been summoned to court has received, you twit.

      You’ve been here long enough to know the commenting policy.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
      Ignored
      says:

      Yes, most of the folks here, front page posters and commenters seem to be well educated. In order to be so, you have to be able to be good at dotting i’s and crossing t’s.

      My point was this is the kind of thing that often bites the professional i dotters and t crossers, in addition to the “other half” — those 1.2 million folks who have arrest warrants out for them in NYC, who might not be as talented in their i dotting and t crossing.

      “Meanwhile, I, somehow, as a non-lawyer, know you can’t just hand your car over to someone else without transferring the damn title and registration, because, duh, …”

      I seriously wonder if you’ve ever sold a car in your life. Because the vast majority of folks I’ve spoken to say, 1. you sign the title over to them, 2. they pay you $, and 3. you give them keys. That’s the customary way business goes down.

      So sorry fella, this isn’t the “duh” issue you claim it to be, like “don’t you know the legal limit for a DUI is .08.”

      And no, it’s not kosher to threaten folks with jail for failing to appear in court for minor fines and the like. In my case, I’m threatened with being thrown in Trenton Jail. Government has plenty of other tools at its disposal.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
        Ignored
        says:

        I seriously wonder if you’ve ever sold a car in your life. Because the vast majority of folks I’ve spoken to say, 1. you sign the title over to them, 2. they pay you $, and 3. you give them keys.

        …and a few days later you take the plate in and tell them you sold the car.

        Or, duh, they don’t know that you sold the car, and still think it’s your car.

        And no, it’s not kosher to threaten folks with jail for failing to appear in court for minor fines and the like.

        So, Mr. Lawyer, what *should* the punishment be for contempt of court be?Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to DavidTC
          Ignored
          says:

          A bigger fine?Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Chris
            Ignored
            says:

            They *did* threaten him with additional penalties *or* contempt of court. And even the additional penalties is just something they ‘may’ do.

            He got sent a letter ordering him to show up in court and informing him of *possible* penalties for failing to show up. No one said ‘This is going to happen’, there was a generic warning, as on *all* court summons, that said ‘If you ignore letters from the court, we can do bad things to you.’.

            That is, literally, how all court summons look. They have a nice printed ‘Do not ignore this or we can arrest you’ message on them. That doesn’t mean, if he didn’t show, that they actually *would* send someone to arrest him, or issue a bench warrant for him. (They’d probably just find him guilty and move on with their day.)

            So what is the argument here? That the warning should be weakened for people charged with lessor crimes? That judges *shouldn’t* be able to issue bench warrants for people charged with lessor crimes? What exactly is being argued here besides ‘Wah, they threatened me.’? (Which, technically, they didn’t. They explained the law, and how bad things happen if you ignore court orders.)Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
          Ignored
          says:

          Or, I guess my point is here, I don’t think you quite understand the difference between title and registration.

          The title is the name of the owner of the car. (Often the bank.)

          The registration is the name of the ‘possessor’ of the car, and thus is assumed to be the person committing crimes with it, the person ultimately responsible if it’s found in some illegal manner (From illegal parking to abandonment) and there’s no other person clearly responsible.

          When the title is changed, the registration is often changed at the same time, but, as you learned, you have no real way to actually have changed the title…you gave it to them, and you don’t know if they turned it in.

          So you have to go remove the registration yourself, which you do by turning in the plates. And just letting the registration *lapse* is not the same thing as disclaiming it. (Or whatever the legal term is.) People let registrations lapse on cars they still own all the time, because they don’t want to pay for a car they’re not driving. Turning in the plates, however, shows you honestly do not expect to drive that car anymore.

          Granted, even if you had done that, if the new owners hadn’t bothered to register the car under their name, or turn in the title, you would *still* be the last person listed as having anything to do with the car (And still hold the title according to the government), so they would *still* have sent a summons to you…

          …which, as I keep pointing out, merely means you have to appear in court and present some sort of evidence you no longer owned the car, and you’d go free. That’s it.

          I find it extremely baffling that a lawyer thinks being forced to appear in court is some sort of horrible situation, and also that a poor or non-lawyer or non-white person would somehow completely fall down on the job and end up in jail (which they’d only do if they didn’t show up.) instead of saying ‘Hey, wait, I sold that car, let me find evidence of that and I’ll take it to court.’. Or even ‘Hey, I can’t make that court date, can I call them up to reschedule?’Report

          • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
            Ignored
            says:

            I informed the folks in May 2015: 1. Trenton, NJ Police; 2. Geico; 3. Geico’s towing agent who illegally dumped my car; 4. the Trenton, NJ Company who holds my car; and 5. PA DMV of the circumstance. And I sent the bill of sale proving my innocence and was assured my problem would be taken care of.

            I still got summonses relates to the tickets.

            It’s not being forced to show up in court that I am most concerned with; but rather the parties who don’t show up, have an extant bench warrants for their arrest for something they in fact didn’t do, and end up like Jeff McCullaugh from “And Justice For All.”Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
              Ignored
              says:

              1. Trenton, NJ Police; 2. Geico; 3. Geico’s towing agent who illegally dumped my car; 4. the Trenton, NJ Company who holds my car; and 5. PA DMV of the circumstance.

              …what an odd list. The only *actual* useful entity on there might be #1, and they don’t really have the ability to cancel trials. #2 doesn’t care, #3 are the criminals and are hardly going to help you(!), #4 also doesn’t care (In fact, I’m completely baffled as to why you included them at all), and #5 would have been nice to notify *before* the court case existed, so perhaps the registration wouldn’t have pointed at you, but is hardly going to track down a court in another state and tell them you told them a bunch of stuff. (In fact, that would be hearsay.)

              Did you try to notify the person actually *prosecuting* the case, the ADA, and explain things to them, and ask them to drop it? Pretty certain their name would have been on the first notice, or you could have called the court.

              I mean, from what I can tell, you didn’t involve the court at all, which is probably why they they didn’t cancel the trial! I’m sure that detective would have gotten around to talking to someone about it, but from what I understand, he might not have even been the guy *on* that case, you got his name from someone else.

              What I really don’t understand is why my first thought would be ‘I am very clearly innocent, and I know who did it, let me contact the prosecutor of this case and see if they’ll clear it up’…and why that isn’t the first thought of a lawyer.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “I mean, from what I can tell, you didn’t involve the court at all, which is probably why they they didn’t cancel the trial!”

                From what you can tell is wrong. As soon as I got the initial notice, I contacted and carbon copied every single party that I was aware of from the information sent to me.

                “I’m sure that detective would have gotten around to talking to someone about it, but from what I understand, he might not have even been the guy *on* that case, you got his name from someone else.”

                Sheer speculation on your part.

                That’s the problem with bureaucracy. Parties A-F all have to “approve,” but those of us who need an issue taken care of might only have access to parties A, D, and E. So we contact them. And someone in that chain may have dropped the ball. Which one, who knows?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                So your issue is with bureuacracy?

                Question: How much of your work as a lawyer is the direct result of some sort of government bureuacracy of one kind or another?Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m wondering why you ask the question. But, yes, my work experience has put me in the belly of the beast.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                Why do I ask the question? Because there is something noteworthy about someone railing against something upon which they are dependent.

                That is to say, you don’t seem to write posts about the horrors of bureaucracy when it is padding your wallet but you do write about it when it puts you in a bind.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Haha. I could write many many posts about the problems of the bureaucracy where I work especially given I recently worked on a project as a “quasi-administrator” that put me in the belly of the beast.

                My employer doesn’t want me to discuss such things publicly and I don’t think they are interested in making me President or a high level administrator who might issue such reforms as I desire.

                So, I still fail to see how such a point is relevant.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                From what you can tell is wrong. As soon as I got the initial notice, I contacted and carbon copied every single party that I was aware of from the information sent to me.

                I can’t believe I have to explain this to a *lawyer*, but the courts move extremely slow, and at the time you got what you call your ‘initial notice’, your case probably didn’t even *exist* yet.

                The fact you’re calling it an ‘initial notice’ show you still don’t actually understand what happened. That first piece of paper was the police informing you they found your car, they took your car, and how to get it back. That was *all*. As the person you spoke to said, if you didn’t want ‘your car’ back because it wasn’t your car, you could ignore all that.

                You instead had some sort of panic attack because of what the towing people said, and ran around all over the place. The problem was, no matter *what* you did, no one could stop the court case from showing up, considering it was, at that point, a police report of an abandoned car buried fifty deep on the desk of some ADA. The police can’t telepathically undo that, or track down where and when that’s going to become a court case, or introduce evidence that you sold the car…to a court case that doesn’t exist yet.

                You stand there and complain about bureaucracy, but you somehow want what…some sort of tracking system that allows the police to find ‘police reports that haven’t become a court case yet’ and…alter them? Append to them? This is some weirdly complicated system you’re proposing. In actuality, pending cases become actual cases, and *then* someone says ‘Hey, wait, that case is crap’ and the ADA says ‘Okay’ and dismisses it.

                So the first cop was exactly right: You *should* have ignored that piece of paper…and waited until the court case showed up.

                And then, eventually, the court case existed, and so a *summons* was sent by a different branch of government, addressing the *crime* of you (presumably) abandoning your car. At which point you should have (still ignoring the first piece of paper, which was just ‘howto get your car back’), contacted the court, and told them what happened, at which point the case would have been dismissed. (Which, I warn you again, you still have no official communications from the court informing you of this.)Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “What I really don’t understand is why my first thought would be ‘I am very clearly innocent, and I know who did it, let me contact the prosecutor of this case and see if they’ll clear it up’…and why that isn’t the first thought of a lawyer.”

                The municipal prosecutors name was never listed in the information I received for contact. I already told you the 5 parties I contacted including the police whose INFORMATION I received from initial contact.

                I think I’m as good as anyone in terms of figuring information out. But I don’t always so indulge. I think of the poor folks who would have no way to know who the municipal prosecutors are and what potentially could happen to them.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                I think of the poor folks who would have no way to know who the municipal prosecutors are and what potentially could happen to them.

                …until they got their *summons* which is *why it warned them* of what could happen.

                Here is what the sequence of events was supposed to be:

                1) You get the first notice.
                2) You, as it says, call the police.
                3) They say not to worry about it if you sold the car.
                4) You don’t worry about it.
                …time passes
                5) You get a summons. Hey, that looks very serious.
                6) You contact people *on the summons*, aka, either the court (Which would direct you to the prosecutor) or the prosecutor directly, asking if you really have to show up.
                7) They say yes, because you abandoned your car.
                8) You inform them that the car was sold, and you told the police that.
                9) They say ‘Send us a copy of the bill of sale, and info about who you sold it to’
                10) You do so.
                11) A week later the court sends you notice the summons was canceled.

                You, OTOH, tried to strong-arm a detective that has nothing to do with this at all into fixing the problem and he, unsurprisingly, didn’t derail a court case he had no interaction with. Weird.

                In fact, technically speaking, you don’t know you still aren’t on the court docket, because you completely refuse to *speak to the court*. You know, the guys demanding you show up under penalty of law? Why would you talk to *those guys*? That would just be *silly*.

                Instead, you spent all your time and effort poking around inside the police when they had no problem with you, simply because they were on the first letter…the one you were explicitly told to disregard.

                Court problems==contact the court.

                Now, you might have some slightly valid complaint at (5) because the police officer you spoke to said ‘if you sold the car to someone else then disregard the letter’, which *you* interpreted as meaning ‘Everything is fine and you won’t have to do anything else’…or, rather, you didn’t interpret it that way, but you’re pretending you did, or something.

                When she probably meant was ‘That specific letter, sent from us, imposes no legal obligation on you.’. Which it didn’t. It was the *second* letter, from the courts, that did that.

                But it would have been nice if she had said ‘However, this might have been passed to the ADA, and thus in a few months you might get a notice from the courts. If you do, contact them and tell them your car was already sold.’

                But you would have figured that out if you’d just listened to her, ignored the first letter, and then paid attention to the second letter sent from *entirely different* people.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “You, OTOH, tried to strong-arm a detective that has nothing to do with this at all into fixing the problem and he, unsurprisingly, didn’t derail a court case he had no interaction with. Weird.”

                I don’t think you understand how court systems operate. They work WITH the executive arm (i.e., the police), i.e., the party who writes the tickets.

                I didn’t try to “strong arm” any Det. (As if that were possible.) I left messages at various divisions of the police and got a phone call from a Detective telling me he understood the issue would help me out.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think you understand how court systems operate. They work WITH the executive arm (i.e., the police), i.e., the party who writes the tickets.

                I apparently understand better than you, because that’s a damn silly explanation. Just because the police work with the courts doesn’t mean the police can magically make the courts drop cases.

                Hey, speaking of that…this detective that *supposedly* helped you out the first time (But ended up doing nothing)…

                …why the hell are you trusting him when he said he got your summons pulled *this time*? He clearly didn’t manage to fix the problem last time. Probably because, as I pointed out, he’s a *cop*, and thus has no access to the inside of the court system.

                Have you contacted the court about this, and made *sure* they aren’t actually expecting you to show up? Like, you know, you should have done the second you got a summons?Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                I won’t answer your question as to whether I contacted the court system. Just note, you have no idea whether I did and thus can’t judge me for that.

                Detectives are not “just cops.” And yes — the ones who write the tickets — can legally work their magic to make sure that innocent people’s and the court’s time isn’t wasted, if they have the proper proof on the matter which I sent to them.

                This is not “just a court” issue. It’s an issue that involves (among others) 3 parties: the police, the courts and me. My goal in taking the action I did was to not have to go to court. I thought I took the necessary action to accomplish this is May.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                I won’t answer your question as to whether I contacted the court system.

                You explicitly listed all the people who you contacted in May, and the courts were not on that list. (When, of course, you didn’t need to contact *anyone* beside the police, as they mentioned you when you called.)

                You didn’t say who you contacted later, except for your statements that you cc’d a lot of people (Because you do not understand the rules of human behavior or how to deal with a court case).

                If during that you decided to actually contact the court, yay for you. You didn’t need to contact anyone else.

                This is not “just a court” issue. It’s an issue that involves (among others) 3 parties: the police, the courts and me.

                Uh, no, it doesn’t. You didn’t need to deal with the police. The police found ‘your’ car, and told you how to get it back, and you’d have to deal with them if you wanted it back. Since you did *not* want it back, you didn’t have to deal with them at all. They *told* you this.

                My goal in taking the action I did was to not have to go to court. I thought I took the necessary action to accomplish this is May.

                You did not contact the court in May, and thus is was incredibly unlikely you could have accomplished not having to go to court at that time. (I’m not sure you *could* have accomplished it at that point even if you did contact them, but you were very unlikely to accomplish it without.)

                It’s becoming increasingly clear you don’t actually understand how there are two different government entities involved in this, and you spent a fuckload of time and effort trying to solve the problem that _courts_ had with you via talking to _police_, who had no issue with you at all. (They just had your car.)

                At some point I’m actually going to stop believing you’re a lawyer, because I apparently understand the distinction between ‘The police have ran off with a car of yours, it’s at a tow yard, here is how to get it back’ vs. ‘The court is attempting to charge you with a crime, you need to give them some evidence to see if they’re drop the case, or eventually show up in court’ much much much better than you do. Those two things are only *vaguely* related, and the police are going to do jackshit about resolving the latter.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Let me try this as an answer: Police write tickets. Police give tickets to courts. When I contacted the police in May, they could have made sure those tickets were then negated and thus never made their way over to the court.

                One final request: Because of your tone and insult, please stop responding to my posts.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “#4 also doesn’t care (In fact, I’m completely baffled as to why you included them at all), …’

                I’m sure glad you aren’t advising my clients.

                They held the car that was registered in my name. I contacted them as a courtesy to let know because I sold the car and got paid for it, I had no interest in the car and wouldn’t be there to pick it up, that it was theirs to have if they wanted it.

                That’s when we discussed the title issue (that they needed a title which I didn’t have to get ownership; they will now get title through the City of Trenton, but that will take a long time).

                And it was this company’s lead agent that informed me of the law on the books and its harsh penalties. And she did so in a threatening context to light a fire under my ass so her company could get paid sooner.

                As noted in the OP, the lead agent at authotheft in Trenton Police who I was INSTRUCTED to contact told me if I sold the to someone else to disregard the letter. Her advice didn’t change even after I told her about the skipping title issue.

                If I didn’t contact the private tow company who possesses my car and relied on the advice of the party I was initially instructed to call, I would have thought everything okay, only to get summonsed, which I did anyway.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                If I didn’t contact the private tow company who possesses my car and relied on the advice of the party I was initially instructed to call, I would have thought everything okay, only to get summonsed, which I did anyway.

                And we can all hope that’s taught you a valuable lesson about actually doing what they said.

                If you *had* disregarded the letter, you would have…called up the courts when you had gotten the summons, instead of trying to make some random detective help you.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                What “random” detective?Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                I contacted them as a courtesy

                Breaking my promise not to engage with you, but in the OP you gloat about how you threatened the towed-car lot with lawsuits “because we are in this together now” (which is both untrue and nonsense). Now, when pushed, the call was simple professional “courtesy.”

                The tl;dr version of this whole thing is that you didn’t sell your car properly, made a mountain out of a resulting molehill when buyer turned out to be a bad sort (I mean seriously, CC-ing your firm on all this stuff?!?), and think that the foregoing reflects poorly on anyone other than you.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                First, I’m not “gloating” about anything.

                Second, I only threatened the towing company after THEY THREATENED ME with tickets including a 5-year suspension of license for something I did not do.

                Thirdly, I did nothing illegal. Whether it’s “proper” or “improper” is a matter of debate. I did something that can get ordinary folks nailed. Why don’t you count the number of commenters here who say “yes this happened to me or this person I know.” And they don’t say, “the person I know this happened to is always getting themselves into trouble because they don’t know how to take care of business.” But rather, “oh this happened to someone like me, like my folks.”

                If you think this reflects badly on me, that’s your opinion, about which I do not care.

                Now please, go back to your promise not to engage me.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                You think the *towing* company threatened you with a suspended license and tickets?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                @nevermoor
                The tl;dr version of this whole thing is that you didn’t sell your car properly, made a mountain out of a resulting molehill when buyer turned out to be a bad sort (I mean seriously, CC-ing your firm on all this stuff?!?), and think that the foregoing reflects poorly on anyone other than you.

                ..and don’t forget that he, a lawyer, thinks it is the most horrible thing in the entire world to have to *show up in court*, and how if he hadn’t been such a super-duper lawyer, he would have to do that!

                Jesus Christ. People have to show up in court all the time. I had to miss class and drive almost an hour once to show up in court because some guy that turned left across my lane at a traffic light and got t-boned by me claimed I had ran the light and thus I was at fault instead of him. I had to, believe it or not, *actually show in court*, like the poors have to! (At which point the case was immediately dismissed because he had no evidence of this.)Report

    • Avatar CJColucci in reply to DavidTC
      Ignored
      says:

      Precisely.Report

  16. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Jon,

    Several times you’ve noted that you wouldn’t just be sent to jail… but TRENTON JAIL… without seeming to note why this is a particularly egregious punishment (unless I missed it). Can you elaborate on this point?

    At first glance, it seems to me that you seem Trenton Jail is acceptable for certain types of folks but certainly not folks like you. And that very well may be the case (both in terms of what you think and what sort of inmate TJ is intended to house), but without spelling this out in more detail, there is something off putting about it.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      You ever see the movie “Beverly Hills Cop”? All jails are created equal? Crips and Bloods. You really didn’t get my point?

      Or maybe I should bluster: “Put me in that jail and I’ll be ruling the place; if they mess with me, I’ll pull a G. Gordon Liddy and kick the biggest baddest mo-fo in his kneecaps to show him not to mess with me.” Or maybe I’ll pull a Gene Wilder and slap someone when a fly lands on their head.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jon Rowe
        Ignored
        says:

        @jon-rowe

        Then articulate WHY that jail was an inappropriate place for YOU. Rather than simply relying on repeatedly stating that that jail is in ZOMGTRENTON!

        “In my circumstance, the poorer and more blue collar oriented folks do have one distinct advantage over me: I think they’d do better in a Trenton jail.”

        I mean… that is a pretty disgusting statement, to be perfectly honest.Report

        • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kazzy
          Ignored
          says:

          “Then articulate WHY that jail was an inappropriate place for YOU.”

          Because that would imply I believe in different standards for myself and others, which I don’t.

          “I mean… that is a pretty disgusting statement, to be perfectly honest.”

          I meant it to be self-deprecating. Maybe you would have been happier if I said, within a few hours I’d be running the place like G. Gordon Liddy.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      TRENTON MAKES THE WORLD TAKES … in the butt.Report

    • Avatar aarondavid in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      @kazzy
      I am not trying to answer for @jon-rowe and I certainly don’t live anywhere near NJ, but the answer from me is that, while there are absolute differences in jails, there should not be, period. At least not in the manner of prisoner danger, either from other prisoners, or from prison workers.Report

      • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to aarondavid
        Ignored
        says:

        Exactly. I wonder if you watched the Stir Crazy clip. All people are to be treated equally under the law. But not everyone does the same under similar circumstances. My point was simply in a Trenton Jail, I’d be like Skip and Harry as opposed to everyone else in the jail.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jon Rowe
          Ignored
          says:

          “… everyone else in the jail …” meaning whom exactly? People not like you? That is to say, wealthy white folk?

          You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth here. You are saying everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. But, for reals, people like you should never be threatened with Trenton Jail because, well, you aren’t the kind of person who belongs in Trenton Jail.

          The fact remains, you acted in violation of the law and one consequence of such is imprisonment. You want something other than that to be the case. You are arguing for special treatment.

          Equal indeed…Report

          • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kazzy
            Ignored
            says:

            ” But, for reals, people like you should never be threatened with Trenton Jail because, well, you aren’t the kind of person who belongs in Trenton Jail.”

            That’s something you are reading into my comments.

            “The fact remains, you acted in violation of the law and one consequence of such is imprisonment.”

            But I actually didn’t violate any law.Report

          • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kazzy
            Ignored
            says:

            “The fact remains, you acted in violation of the law and one consequence of such is imprisonment.”

            Kazzy: You are acting like I got busted buying drugs or soliciting prostitutes in Trenton and then demanded to be sent to a Princeton jail.

            If I do commit a crime in Trenton, I’ll accept the consequences. I committed no crime, ANYWHERE.

            You really insulted me with your “disgusting” comment. If you’d like to know what I’ve done for the people of Trenton, you can email me (rowjonathan@aol.com) and we can discuss this privately.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jon Rowe
              Ignored
              says:

              Jon, I edited your comment since it appeared you had addressed it to the wrong name.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jon Rowe
              Ignored
              says:

              You are changing your story. As others have pointed out, you did fail to properly complete the transaction. As such, you violated the law. Now, you can make the case that the law shouldn’t function in that way. But it does. And you were in violation. Regardless of what folks involved in the process might have told you.

              If a client of yours said to you, “Don’t bother to show up to court. I talked with someone on the phone and they said I’m fine. I don’t need to show,” would you advise him not to show up? I sure as hell hope now.

              You *didn’t* dot your i’s and cross your t’s but because you weren’t buying drugs or soliciting prostitution, you think you shouldn’t be held accountable for those errors.

              You fucked up. There are consequences.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Kazzy,

                Please reread my original post, very carefully. I’m not changing my story. I did nothing illegal.

                Given the way you have been dealing with me on this, I don’t expect an honest answer to my question. But I’ll ask it anyway:

                You have a really old car that you’d like to sell for a few hundred dollars. You call “We Buy Any Car” and they come to your door with a check for a few hundred dollars and a tow. You have the title.

                With your knowledge before skimming my piece, how would you behave? Be honest.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                How would I behave? I’d research every step I needed to perform and then perform them. I have an almost compulsive attention to detail, especially when dealing with major issues. And, in fact, I’ve done this. Had a broken down car I needed junked (in MA): had it towed to salvage yard and then worked with DMV to complete the transaction. Guess what? No summons!!!Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                You shouldn’t have to be Kazzy to avoid the July Summons. Having informed the relevant parties to their apparent satisfaction in May, as Jon did, that should be the end of it.

                Failing the bureaucracy should not be a “you deserve whatever you get because you screwed up” situation. This is a common enough situation (attested to by multiple people here) that there needs to be a mechanism (affidavit of sale, etc) to avoid everything that happened after May, if not prior to that.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                But that isn’t how our court system works, @will-truman . And a lawyer should know that!!!

                Jon was accused of a crime (abandoning a vehicle). A summons was issued to begin the process of adjudicating the matter. He attempted to circumvent this process because he felt he was innocent. But that is exactly what a court appearance and subsequent trial is designed to determine. It was in Jon’s best interests to honor the summons and appear and set the matter straight in a court of law… not via a phone call with a detective who may or may not have had the authority to resolve the matter unilaterally.

                Is the system perfect? No. Is there room for improvement? Enough to drive a circus train through. But this incident does not seem to be the best example of the system not working.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                When my father was in a similar situation, none of this happened except the part where he had to demonstrate that the car had been donated, which they had a process in place to handle because this is something that happens. He filled out an affidavit (maybe a bill of sale too, not sure) and that was that. New Jersey had no process in place and evidently no idea what to do in what isn’t an uncommon situation. That isn’t how it has to work.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                Was your father contacted as part of the investigation? Or was the investigation completed and then he was contacted?

                It sounds like in Jon’s situation, it was the former. Which is admittedly problematic. But making an end run around the system doesn’t solve it.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                My assumption is that he satisfied their requirements to demonstrate that he was not the responsible party so they dropped the charges. Either way, no summons, no missed time for work, and no warrant after he supplied the documentation they had a process to recieve.Report

            • Avatar notme in reply to Jon Rowe
              Ignored
              says:

              Who cares what you’ve done for Trenton? Why is that even an issue? Does your great humnaitarian service buy you a pass?Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to notme
                Ignored
                says:

                “Notme”: Your point would be relevant if I argued what you are accusing me of.

                Kazzy’s point was my position intimated that I was “better” than “those people” in Trenton. That I’m “real” and they aren’t.

                That’s the notion to which I took umbrage.Report

              • Avatar Notme in reply to Jon Rowe
                Ignored
                says:

                You brought up your great contributions to trenton, not me. Why bring them up in the first place if you you dont want to tell us?Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Notme
                Ignored
                says:

                I brought up my contributions to the City of Trenton in the context of answering a criticism leveled at me by Kazzy which I told him I would discuss privately with him.

                At least I’m blogging non-anonymously here. But do you really want to know?Report

  17. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    “This is B.S. I got pulled over for a B.S. reason and almost got shot!”

    “But you didn’t! Do you want to live without the police at all? And if you don’t want anarchy, you’re a hypocrite for complaining!”Report

  18. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Did you do all this, Jon?

    http://www.state.nj.us/mvc/Vehicle/TransferringVehicle.htm

    It doesn’t sound like it. And if that is the case, you were indeed acting in violation of the law.

    If you think the law is bad, okay. Argue that. But that doesn’t change whether or not you violated it.

    As for how things should have been handled, as a lawyer in NJ, who has the authority to dismiss a summons? If you didn’t get confirmation in writing from that person that your summons was dismissed, it was irresponsible of you to assume that it was. Again, if a client of yours explained the same situation and said he wasn’t going to appear at the court date, what would you have advised him?Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      No I didn’t go to that website because my sales transaction had nothing to do with the State of NJ. The people who illegally dumped the car could have dumped it in Alabama for all I know.

      Again, I did nothing illegal. The activities I took in May were done to try to PREVENT the summons in the first place. And since I did nothing illegal, I thought this would be a reasonable expectation of the action that I took.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      To be fair, the rules he failed to comply with are Pennsylvania’s.

      (linked here)Report

  19. Avatar Morat20
    Ignored
    says:

    Honestly, having read this whole thing I’m not sure whether it’s a bigger example of “First World Problems
    ” or “White People Problems” or what.

    No offense, but it seems like a giant hissy fit over…nothing. I mean, if I get this correctly you sold your car to a guy for cash, and didn’t follow up with the state to make sure they knew you’d sold it. The guy who bought it didn’t either.

    So when it was abandoned, you got issued a bog-standard “Show up to court and deal with your stupid car” summons, which is identical to the one you get when you’re handed a speeding ticket except they have to mail it to you.

    You’re mad because you got it, even though you sold the car. But title was never actually transferred, so you’re still the owner. Then it took a few phone calls to get everyone on board with the fact that you sold the car.

    All of which could have been avoided if you’d bothered notifying the state — which keeps track of who owns cars — that you’d sold it, instead of trusting the stranger who bought it for 300 bucks cash.

    Yeah, look. I’m out about 5k this year because my company switched to all high-deductible plans. My brother has cancer. I had a suspicious nodule biopsied, my wife’s due for more surgery, and hopefully by the end of the year my HSA will have enough money to pay all the bills I’ve racked up (ha!). I’ve also got thousands in work that needs to be done on my house, my car won’t currently pass inspection, and I’ve got a big family event I *must* attend that’s going to cost me far more than I’m comfortable with.

    Would you like to trade problems?Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Morat20
      Ignored
      says:

      My post was a form of a vent which I hoped helps folks more aware stuff that could occur.

      Now imagine, with everything you are going through, you try to sell your car and this happens.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jon Rowe
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, for starters I wouldn’t trust the guy who paid 300 cash to do my legal paperwork for me, but then I’m no lawyer so perhaps I’m just paranoid.

        Then secondly, I wouldn’t throw a fit over the “jail” bit because I’m fully aware of what happens when you miss a court summons.

        And since I don’t think I’m some special snowflake that the law shouldn’t apply to, then missing a court date = warrant for my arrest. Just like if I’d missed it for a traffic ticket.

        What you had there was an entirely solvable, simple problem that you seemed to turn into a giant personal insult because…I dunno why. The rules shouldn’t apply to you?

        Seems like an excellent example of privilege, actually.

        Honestly, I didn’t see the government doing anything wrong. They found a car abandoned, they traced it’s registration, it was owned by you. They issues you a ticket for abandonment, with the usual “if you don’t show up in court or pay your ticket, we’ll issue a warrant for your arrest” kicker. The only wrinkle is you’d sold your car…but since neither you nor the buyer bothered to notify the state of that, it’s still your car.

        So really, the actual hassle is entirely your fault. You got it straightened out in a few phone calls and didn’t even have to drive down there personally to see a judge or talk to a clerk. What the heck do you have to complain about?Report

        • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Morat20
          Ignored
          says:

          Hmmm. “Entirely my fault”? Even though I wasn’t the one who skipped title and dumped the car in Trenton with a “for sale” sign.

          As I noted before, when I first got notice (in May) I made phone calls to try and nip this in the bud, but I still got a summoned anyway.

          All this stuff about “privilege” and “rules not applying to me” … please stop as I said nothing of the kind.

          The same rules that apply to me apply to the 1.2 million extant arrest warrants in NYC for petty issues. That’s what I have a problem with.Report

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