- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016

GRANTVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A judge in rural Georgia who fined a woman $1,590 for having no decal on her car’s license place canceled the fine this week.

Grantville Municipal Court Judge Lisa Reeves canceled the fine without explanation Tuesday, less than three hours after an attorney told the court that she was representing Linda Ford, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (bit.ly/1X9ojul).

Ford was put on probation in February because the judge said she owed the money. By Tuesday she had paid $300 toward the fine, but it would have totaled $1,722 with additional state-mandated fees.

The judge’s decision came six days after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the large fine.

Ford’s ordeal began when she was stopped for having a dirty license plate and an officer found the plate had no decal to prove her registration was up to date.

Ford had the decal in her glove box and showed it to the officer, the newspaper reported. She said she had forgotten to attach it while her car was in the shop for repairs months earlier. The officer cited her anyway because Coweta County records showed that her registration was suspended.

Sarah Geraghty, an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said the county’s records were wrong.

When Ford faced a hearing in December, she took documents showing that her registration was current, but the newspaper reports that Reeves fined her $720 for failure to have a current decal on her license plate. She made partial payments, but Reeves hiked the fine up to $1,590.

Ford was ordered to report to a probation officer periodically until the fine was paid.

“It does something to you on the inside,” Ford said about being on probation. “I was ashamed. People at work knew. I didn’t act the same. My hair started to come out because I was so stressed out.”

Reeves didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment on Thursday.

Geraghty told the newspaper that similar problems happen statewide.

“Too often the goal of money collection is put in front of the more legitimate goals of public safety and rehabilitation,” she said.

___

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com

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