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Boulder might eliminate jury trials for municipal fines


From the ever-expanding “only in Boulder” file, readers of the Daily Camera were reminded of the many nit-picky infractions that carry the potential of jail time. They include such crimes as failing to shovel snow off your sidewalk, skateboarding on the Pearl Street Mall, sledding on open space, panhandling, hitting golf balls in city parks, having glass bottles in city parks, failing to report a fire and illegal camping.

It’s that last bit of lawlessness that inspired the litany—due to a surge in requests for jury trials by those ticketed for illegal camping, the city attorney has suggested handling the workload by simply eliminating jury trials for many municipal tickets. This would coincide with changes that reduce fines for such crimes from $1,000 to $500 and do away with the potential for jail time (although not for all municipal infractions: hitting golf balls, begging for change and failing to report a fire can still see you behind bars if the ticketing officer is so inclined).

Not surprisingly, the suggestion provoked a wave of backlash. While most people might agree that sledding on open space shouldn’t be a jailable infraction, the protest was against eliminating jury trials.

“You will just have one conviction after another if they are just in front of a judge,” Boulder resident Dan Frazier is quoted as saying.

Advocates for the homeless are among the most vocal. According to the article, 20 of the 37 jury trials scheduled for municipal court in the near future are for illegal camping.

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