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  • Writer's pictureJudge Michael Donio

Ask the Judge: I was mailed a ticket, but cop did not stop me?

I was not pulled over by a police officer but yet I was mailed a ticket for not coming to a full stop at an intersection. There was a cop present, but he did not stop me. Is that legitimate?

Yes, it is legitimate, but subject to the proofs in court. Anyone can sign a ticket against anyone else as long as they witnessed it. However, even if the citizen signs the ticket that person must show up and testify in municipal court. Same thing here. The officer will have to show up and testify as to what he saw, when he saw it, and of course, why he did not stop you. I would think that if you defend this or hire a lawyer to defend it that would be a very important question. It sounds to me like it could be a case ripe for some kind of a downgrade to some type of a non-point violation or even a municipal ordinance that might be closely related in language to the charge that you were given. The bottom line is that the state has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in municipal court. So, someone is going to have to show up to testify, namely the cop who gave you the ticket even though you were not stopped on the day in question.

There is a dog who defecates on my lawn every day. His owner never cleans it up. It is gross. Can I sue him for making a mess of my property? I have no trespassing signs near my driveway.

You have some recourse here, but I am not sure you want to file a lawsuit. If you file a lawsuit, you are going to have to prove what your damages are. Is your property destroyed in any way? The answer is probably not. This is not the kind of case where I think you would run off and file a lawsuit and spend a lot of money on depending upon even if you find a lawyer to take such a case. The way I would handle it is as follows:

First, I would politely and calmly go over to my neighbor and discuss the situation. I am assuming that this person is your neighbor or someone who lives close by. If it does not then stop, I would go to the local police department and have a police officer go over and talk to the people in person to tell them that the dog is trespassing on your property where you have signs and that you want this to stop. If that does not work, then I would file something in the municipal court for trespassing and go before a judge who will then probably very sternly talk to the person about their dog and then if it is not rectified, you will be on record and the trespassing charge can be prosecuted. Good luck.

Judge Michael Donio served as a New Jersey State Superior Court Judge for 20 years before retiring on July 31, 2015. He now operates a legal consulting and mediation firm on the White Horse Pike. Donio can be reached by calling (609) 481-2919. Send your questions for his columns to

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