In at least eight California counties, ticketed drivers can be required to pay their traffic fines before their cases are allowed to go to trial. On Monday, the Judicial Council unanimously approved a rule that prohibits that practice.
Judge Harry Hull serves on the council. He says people were essentially paying to see a judge.
"As far as a matter of access to justice, it simply was unfair to say in fact you have to pay the penalty before you can contest your innocence," he says.
Hull says the council will also investigate whether the same issues apply to people cited for infractions like littering or loitering.
The council is also working with the Legislature and governor to reform other aspects of traffic court proceedings.