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1926 roadside traffic court

1926 roadside traffic court

1926: A genuine roadside court in Inglewood.

A story in the Nov. 7, 1926, Los Angeles Times explains:

Down the road comes a flash that resolves itself into a Chrysler “60” roadster. It is gone as quickly as it came. Two motorcycle officers “kick” the starters on their mounts and swing out of a side road after the speeding car. Two sirens scream in the distance and the Chrysler gentles to a stop at the curb. Out come pencils and “tab” books. Out comes the driver’s license. And in a few minutes the formal invitation to appear before Inglewood’s judge is issued to the Chrysler driver.

There’s nothing particularly new about such a procedure, but Inglewood added a new chapter in a recent experiment for instead of the Chrysler driver being compelled to return to Inglewood on the next court day and answer the charges, the judge arrived upon the scene almost before the officers had finished making out the ticket and held court on the spot.

Carrying his table, chair and law books in the back of a light truck, and riding with his bailiff in the cab, Judge Reese of Inglewood tried out the system of “court a-la carte.”

With his vehicle parked unostentatiously near the motorcycle officers’ beat, he waited for the sound of the tell-tale siren. When he heard it, the truck moved rapidly to the scene and backed up to the curb where the arrest occurred.

“By holding court on the spot,” said the judge, “we prevent the necessity of making the motorist return to the city at a later date to appear in court, but the drawback is that the calendar is already crowded and while the judge is sitting in his car waiting for something to do he could be disposing of some of the cases that are awaiting his attention.”

The photo above was published in the Nov. 30, 1970, Los Angeles Times South Bay edition. A different version, below, accompanied the Nov. 7, 1926, story quoted above. The image above was moved by a wire service. It was published in the Aug. 15, 1926, Odgen Standard-Examiner. Another version is online at the Inglewood public library: Traffic Court on Wheels, Inglewood, California.

Roadside traffic court in Inglewood. This photo was published in the Nov. 7, 1926, Los Angeles Times. Credit: ProQuest.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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