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South County : Holiday on Warrants Gets Many to Pay Fines

More than 750 persons have saved themselves a total of $150,000 during the last two weeks by taking advantage of a moratorium on outstanding traffic and other misdemeanor warrants declared by South Orange County Municipal Court, chief deputy clerk Joyce Ziegler said Tuesday.

Under the amnesty arrangement, which began May 19, those who had been ignoring warrants issued after they failed to appear in court for traffic and other minor citations were given the opportunity to go to court, pay the fine on the original violation and have the warrants dismissed.

Usually, Ziegler said, anyone who is brought in on a failure warrant pays an average of another $200 on top of the fine.

She said that as of the close of court last Friday, 759 persons with traffic citations and another 17 with citations for other misdemeanors had responded to the offer.

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They paid a total of “a little over $17,000" in fines on their original violations, much of which, she said, might have gone uncollected indefinitely.

At the same time, the marshal’s office was relieved of the chore of serving those warrants, a procedure which would have cost “by very conservative estimate an average of more than $100 each,” according to Lt. Mike Corona.

Servicing of warrants, Corona said, can entail anything from mailing a reminder to the offender to trying to track him or her down in person.

Ziegler said the original amnesty period, first announced by South Orange County Presiding Judge Pamela Lee Iles, was to have ended June 19. “But the judges, by informal agreement, have extended it to June 24, when they will hold a meeting to decide if it should go on even longer,” Iles said.

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It has been reported by other court officials that there are as many as 22,000 warrants outstanding in the south county.


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