The Chattanooga Times Free- Press is reporting that in the last five years, Chattooga County State Court officials have charged people $36,504 in illegal court fines.
Records show that since 2009, 152 defendants have paid the county for court costs in cases that were then not prosecuted.
Judge Sam Finster had requested a court employee to make a list of all the cases that had not been prosecuted and instead the defendants allowed to pay “court costs”, a practice that was illegal according to Georgia Law.
Chattooga County Clerk of Courts Lan Cordle says that may not be all the cases there were.
Cordle said that the employee had to go through all of the cases by hand and can’t promise there weren’t more.
The practice of the state court not prosecuting cases for some defendants and allowing them to pay “court costs” instead has been an ongoing issue for several weeks since Judge Finster agreed that the court had been doing the illegal practice.
Chattooga County Commissioner Jason Winters had previously said that if the county had to repay defendants the money they put up for “court costs” he wasn’t exactly sure where the money would come from.
The Chattannooga Times-Free Press says that Judge Finster wants to send a letter out to defendants who had paid the illegal fines and tell them they could have their money refunded and face a trial or they could ignore the illegal fines and stay out of court, or defendants could enter a pre-trial diversion program.
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