A Stroud mother has filed a complaint in the Town of Luther against the Town’s Municipal Judge after she sat through court the day her son appeared on a traffic violation and was almost sent to jail by Judge Stephen Haynes. Penny Richardson, in a letter to Mayor Jenni White, outlined the experience from October 2 through an email.
“Today I had the displeasure of accompanying my son to traffic court in your town. To say I was very dissatisfied would be an understatement.
My son agreed to plead no contest to a following too closely citation. Agreement was probation for 6 months and $260 fine. He was given a form to request a payment plan. The judge flat out denied my son, and every other person who applied for a time pay application. Not only was the judge rude and hateful in his tone, he was almost an hour late to arrive in the first place, for which a person would have received a bench warrant issued had the roles been reversed.When I found out they were going to take my son to COUNTY jail over a town traffic citation, I was livid! He does not have a record nor does he have a history of traffic violations. He was given a ticket on his way from work. He was not speeding, he had insurance, his car was legal. He was only misfortunate enough to be behind a vehicle that saw the police officer and hit his brakes, causing my son to be pulled over for following too closely. Is that really something worth being sent to county jail for??My son is a single dad going through a divorce trying to get custody of his daughter.
I am not made of money and I always make my kids pay if they break the law. I have a “no bond, don’t call mom” kind of thing with them. My son knows this. He did not ask me, since I was with him he just turned to me and said, “Guess I’m going to jail, please pick my daughter up from school.” I stood up and said this is one time I will pay!My husband is a disabled/retired army Veteran. We live on a fixed income so money doesn’t flow thru our veins. He has been to war defending my rights as well as others. Today my son’s rights were violated. Because of a power hungry UNFIT JUDGE.I will never come to or thru your town again, and will warn others or unfair treatment in the legal system there.I will say this in NO way reflects on ANY of your police officers. They were very kind and helpful. I have great respect for them. They were doing their jobs, and correctly.
My son was not the only one treated unfairly today. He and I just happened to be the ones willing to speak out. Everyone else is afraid of ramifications that they fear could happen if speaking out against Judge Stephen H. I for one will NEVER be intimidated.”Sincerely,Penny Richardson.Stroud,OK
In this case, Mayor Jenni White apologized to Richardson and said the town’s court system is becoming a “front burner” issue.
Ms. Penny,I am embarrassed beyond words to hear of your experience here in our traffic court.Unfortunately, you are not the only person to bring this situation to light in recent months. Beginning my term here several years ago was quite a challenge in a number of ways and it is also unfortunate, that in dealing with other situations needing immediate attention due to a previous lack of such, I – and other Board members – neglected turning a focus on our court at an earlier point in our tenure.I can assure you that this situation is now under our watchful eye and we are taking the steps necessary to mitigate your concern.Please forgive our previous inattention to this situation so that you and your son were forced to have the unpleasant experience you had in our court this morning. That is not an experience we hope for visitors to our Town – no matter the circumstances for your visitation – to have.Again, many apologies and very sincerely,Jenni WhiteMayorLuther, Oklahoma