3

I am of Indian origin, legally living in the United States.
For my speeding ticket hearing, the Judge asked me in front of the entire court house; "Are you from Pakistan? I replied "no" with an answer, "I am from India".
He then commented about the traffic and how people drive in India!
Is he allowed to ask/comment these kinds of things on a traffic ticket?

  • 2
    You might want to mention a more specific jurisdiction, unless this was somehow a federal traffic court. – D M Jan 3 at 22:15
  • My wife (who moved to the US as an adult) usually answers questions about where she's from by saying "I live in Brooklyn." A similar answer might have antagonized the judge, but it is a useful strategy in many cases. – phoog Jan 4 at 18:27
3

A judge can ask any question of anyone in their courtroom. A judge can make any comments they like in their courtroom. They're a judge!

What they can't do is exhibit bias or the apprehension of bias or take irrelevant matters into account in making judicial decisions. The judge may have a wide and deep knowledge of driving conditions in India, however, that is irrelevant to an alleged speeding offence in the United States. If it appears that the judge took this into account in their decision then there are grounds for an appeal. Similarly, if it appears that the fact that you are Indian and the judge displays bias against (or towards) Indians then that is also grounds for an appeal.

An appeal court will look at the entire circumstances of the case to determine if the decision should be overturned including what was said, what the judge decided and the reasons for the decision in the written judgement (if any).

  • Are you saying a judge can potentially ask totally irrelevant and unseemly questions like "at what age did you lose your virginity" and get away with it? – Greendrake Jan 4 at 1:42
  • 1
    @Greendrake the only person with more power than a judge in a courtroom is a general on a battlefield. Judges should behave judicially but they are not open to sanction if the don’t (apart from having their judgements overturned on appeal. – Dale M Jan 4 at 2:07
  • @DaleM traffic hearings in the US are often held before administrative law judges, who are employees of the executive branch (despite their title). They are not nearly as independent or powerful as judges of the judicial branch. – phoog Jan 4 at 18:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.