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Suit to block civil fees filed in Roanoke

Attorneys for an 81-year-old woman filed suit today in Roanoke County Circuit Court to block enforcement of Virginia’s civil remedial fees.

The attorneys—John P. Fishwick Jr. and John E. Lichtenstein of Roanoke and Charles Van Hoback of Salem—contend that Virginia Code § 46.2-206.1 violates the U.S. Constitution by applying to Virginia residents but excluding non-residents and by imposing “discriminatory sanctions and penalties upon indigent defendants with no regard to their ability to pay.”

The complaint alleges that the plaintiff, Mary Minter, is indigent and would immediately lose her right to drive because she is unable to pay the fees that would be associated with the reckless driving charge she is facing.

The attorneys allege that the law violates the Virginia Constitution by requiring court clerks to pay what are in fact punitive fines rather than civil fees to the state’s general fund instead of the Literary Fund. Moreover, requiring the clerks to collect a tax violates the constitutional separation of powers because it has no bearing on the cost of prosecutions, the suit alleges.

The papers request a preliminary injunction and ask the court to allow Minter to proceed “as the virtual representative and party by representation of all Virginia citizens who have been assessed or will be assessed such charges.”

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