Lead foot? Justice of the peace got 5 speeding tickets in 6 years

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A Maricopa County justice of the peace seems to have a lead foot. We have uncovered five speeding tickets that have been issued to Judge Cody Williams since 2011.

Williams is the justice of the peace for the South Mountain Precinct. He is also the husband of Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.

In April 2011, a photo radar camera clocked Williams doing 48 mph in a 35 mph zone, 13 mph over the posted limit. In April 2012, photo radar also caught Williams in a 35 mph zone, this time going 49 mph, 14 mph over the limit.

Two months later, Williams was stopped for speeding and written a ticket for going 50 mph in a 35 zone.

In 2013, Williams received another speeding ticket while driving on S. 16th Street in south Phoenix. That time he was given a citation for driving 57 mph in a 40 mph zone, that’s 17 miles over the limit.

The most recent citation was issued on May 9, 2017. A Phoenix police motorcycle officer was running radar along 16th Street in far south Phoenix. That officer clocked and wrote Williams a speeding ticket for going 71 mph in a 35 mph zone. That is 36 miles faster than the posted limit.

Local attorney Aaron Black defends traffic violations in Phoenix courts all the time. He said the frequency of Williams’ tickets makes him a serial speeder.

“It's interesting that a justice of the peace is violating the law like this. Whether it's criminal or civil, they have a duty to uphold the law. A justice of the peace is someone who is handling speeding tickets every day. They're handling traffic violations every day. They're sentencing people to fines and on criminal speeding tickets they might be sentencing them to jail,” said Black. 

According to Arizona traffic laws, if a person exceeds the posted speed limit by more than 20 miles per hour, that is considered criminal speeding, a class 3 misdemeanor. The penalties could be up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Even though Williams' ticket in May was for 36 miles per hour over the speed limit, the officer issued him a civil traffic ticket.

A spokesman for the Phoenix Police said officers in the field have discretion on traffic stops and how they see best to cite individuals for alleged violations. The same spokesman said Williams did not receive special treatment because of his job or the fact that his wife is the chief of police.

“They cited him civilly. That's somewhat suspicious. Especially if it was a Phoenix officer. I've never seen that type of discretion. I've seen judges hand out jail time on criminal speeding tickets. It happens,” said Black.

All three of the tickets issued to Williams that were not photo radar were given to him by Phoenix officers. So, it appears, they are holding him accountable to some extent.

All of Williams’ tickets have been taken care of either by paying the fine or attending traffic school.

Scott Davis, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Justice Courts, said that because the issue is not related to conduct on the bench, the Court takes no position on the issue.

Williams, however, did respond in an email with the following written statement:

I did receive a speeding ticket on May 9. I acknowledged driving above the posted limit, signed for the ticket and subsequently attended Defensive Driving School. As far as I know, this matter is settled.

 My very brief conversation with the officer was limited to the usual process of providing registration and proof of insurance, and discussion over the speed- both posted and alleged.

 I am not aware if the officer knew anything about me other than my name. I certainly made no attempts to be anything other than a citizen stopped for excessive speed.

 As I said, I have resolved this issue to the best of my ability and I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to publicly apologize for this.

Cody Williams
Justice of the Peace
South Mountain Precinct

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