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King City Municipal Court is in session with new judge

Kevin Luby holds court twice a month in King City City Hall
by: Barbara Sherman

King City Municipal Court is in session June 7, and Judge Kevin Luby is presiding.

He explains to the 16 people sitting in the City Hall council chambers that also functions as a courtroom that they can plead guilty; not guilty, which means a trial will be held; or no contest.

"You have the right to have your own attorney, you have the right to call witnesses, and you have the right to present evidence," Luby told the people, who had all been issued traffic citations in King City.

Luby added that if they had clean drivers' licenses, he would reduce the fine to the minimum, but if they had a DMV "history," they would have to explain to him why he should lower the fine.

Luby added that he considers some citations to be "fix-it tickets;" for example, if people are cited for driving without insurance but they had insurance in effect at the time and bring proof to court, he will dismiss the charge.

The first person to be called in front of the judge was cited for failure to obey a traffic control device - a sign on 116th Avenue that prohibits drivers from turning left into the Arco service station during certain hours.

Luby reduced the fine from $287 to $250.

The second person pled guilty to the same offense, noting, "This was only my third time in King City in 10 years," and got the fine reduced.

Four more people cited for disobeying the same sign were among those in the court that day. "I made the left-hand turn, so I'm guilty," one man said.

"I'm sensing a pattern here," Luby noted.

Another person, who was cited for not having insurance, told Luby, "I have it now," and got his fine reduced to $215.25. "You have a clean record," Luby said.

A man charged with talking on a cell phone while driving and having no insurance asked for a trial on the cell phone charge. He told Luby he had insurance and left the courtroom to get it; when he returned with the proof, Luby dropped that charge.

A court reporter/interpreter came into the court for two cases involving Spanish-speaking drivers.

A woman, who had been cited for speeding in a school zone and failure to provide proof of insurance, was asked by Luby, "Do you have insurance?"

The woman, who said it was her birthday, replied, "Yes," but admitted that she didn't have insurance at the time she was stopped.

Luby said he was barred by state law from lowering the fine for speeding in a school zone and told her, "This is going to be an expensive birthday."

The 12th person to appear, charged with no insurance and talking on a cell phone, said, "I'm guilty. I let my insurance lapse, but I have it now."

Luby fined him $106.50 on the cell phone charge and $212.50 on the insurance charge.

"Can I make payments," the man asked, and Luby answered, "Yes."

The 14th person had been cited for defective lighting in both brake lights, and Luby asked her, "Have you had them fixed?"

The woman replied "Yes, it was an electrical problem," and Luby said, "I'm going to make it a fix-it ticket. It was probably expensive to fix."

The 15th person was cited for failure to obey a traffic control device and for not wearing a seatbelt.

"Was it the Arco station?" Luby asked, and the man said, "No, I'm aware I rolled through a stop sign."

For the seat belt infraction, the man said he had taken a class, and Luby reduced his fine from $287 to $225.

Finally, the last person was cited for driving 39 mph in a 25-mph zone and pled guilty, getting a reduced fine.

Following the session, there was a long line of people in the hallway outside the courtroom waiting to either pay their fines or make arrangements to pay them; meanwhile, Luby presided over three trials of people who had asked for them during earlier municipal court sessions.

"The main charges fought are for speeding tickets," Luby noted.

King City Municipal Court is held on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 2:30 p.m., and Luby was appointed by the King City City Council on May 4 to serve as municipal court judge.

He first practiced law in Portland in 1984 before coming to Tigard in 1990; he opened Luby Law Firm in Tigard in 1996, where his practice includes civil litigation, commercial transactions and business-related litigation, arbitration and other issues.

Luby said he became interested in becoming a judge in part because his grandfather was a judge outside Boston.

"I just enjoy it," he said. "The people are nice, and the city cops are great. It's a nice, enjoyable sideline.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people who come through municipal court recognize that they screwed up. Municipal courts provide a service, and it's more convenient for the cops instead of having to drive to Hillsboro. The court doesn't make money for the city, but it saves the city money."

Luby was a Washington County Circuit Court judge pro tem from 2002 to 2008 and has served as a Tigard Youth Peer Court judge since 1999; in addition, Luby is involved with many city, community, charitable and youth sports organizations.