Sunday, January 4, 2015

A modest proposal for a sane transparent law for New York State

Did you ever ask yourself, "what are the minimum and maximum civil fines and minimum and maximum prison times for violations of our laws?"

You might believe that this information would be public and well documented.

Well, you would be incorrect.

For example, take a simple thing such as a traffic law.  In New York State, you go to a "hearing" with a "referee".  You are not given an opportunity to a trial by a jury of your peers as required by our New York State constitution.


 §  2.  Trial  by  jury  in  all  cases in which it has heretofore been
  guaranteed by constitutional provision shall remain  inviolate  forever;
  but  a jury trial may be waived by the parties in all civil cases in the
  manner to be prescribed by law. The legislature may provide, however, by
  law, that a verdict may be rendered by not less than five-sixths of  the
  jury  in  any civil case. A jury trial may be waived by the defendant in
  all criminal cases, except those in  which  the  crime  charged  may  be
  punishable  by death, by a written instrument signed by the defendant in
  person in open court before and with the approval of a judge or  justice
  of  a  court having jurisdiction to try the offense. The legislature may
  enact laws, not inconsistent  herewith,  governing  the  form,  content,
  manner  and  time  of  presentation  of the instrument effectuating such
  waiver.

You are not even required to choose "the administrative hearing".  It appears the New York State constitution does not apply to the New York State department of motor vehicle traffic violations bureau.
Our New York State legislature runs a very poor website which is available at this very unfriendly link:  http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/MENUGETF.cgi?COMMONQUERY=LAWS+&TARGET=VIEW The search and download capabilities of this poorly designed website are almost nonexistent. In order to make our New York State laws available and searchable and downloadable, we have extracted the data into this spreadsheet: http://bit.ly/nyslaw
The answer to our question about civil fines for violations seem to be encoded in our laws in a very haphazard manner.  Some fine minimums and some fine maximums are documented but most are not documented at all.  Which leaves the question open.  WHY ARE THESE CIVIL FINE MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM AMOUNTS NOT DOCUMENTED FOR EACH PART OF OUR LAW?  AND WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?

Go to http://bit.ly/nyslaw to be able to download all VAT NYS law.

The goal is to make all laws downloadable and transparent.

WHY IS THIS LAW DATA NOT IN THE NYS OPEN DATA PORTAL???