by: Tony Thomas Updated:
WALTON COUNTY, Ga. - A metro Atlanta man said he's trying to figure out how he went in to court to try and get a traffic ticket fine reduced, and wound up being banned from a local county.
The trouble all started for Ricardo Riley when he got a ticket in Loganville last October. The police officer says Riley was going 40 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.
Riley went to court to try and get the fine reduced, but the only way he could talk to the judge, who is the only one who could reduce the fine, was to go to trial. Otherwise he could only plead guilty and pay fine as set. He did, and now regrets it.
There was no recording made of the courtroom proceeding, but records showed Riley received a much stiffer sentence than just a $250 fine.
"I asked him to lower it, but instead he give me a $1,000 fine, 12-month probation, driving school and he banished me from the county,” Riley said.
Riley can never enter Walton County again without facing the possibility of being sent to jail.
"I didn't commit no murder, I'm not a sex offender, I'm not a criminal. I just got a speeding ticket, so I think that’s not fair," Riley said.
Georgia law allows judges to banish people from their area, but the rarely used law is mainly reserved for more serious offenses.
Loganville Municipal Judge Brad Brownlow allowed Channel 2 Action news to record one of his court sessions Thursday, but told Gwinnett Bureau Chief Tony Thomas the Judicial Code of Ethics prevented him from commenting about the case. Other courtroom personnel said they don't even remember the case.
Riley insisted he didn't talk back to the judge. He said besides the banishment, the probation really irks him, as well.
"I can't leave the country because I'm on probation," Riley said.
That means the Jamaican native, who is a permanent U.S. resident, can't go back to the island to visit his family during his probation period.
The banishment he said means he can't visit friends who live in Walton County or drop off his kids at a co-workers house. Riley lives in neighboring Gwinnett County.
Thomas asked Riley if he would think again before speeding -- Riley replied with a laugh and said "Uh, no."