When a federal employee gets into a fender bender, apparently it literally becomes a federal case.
Back in May, Benjamin Huff, a civilian investigative specialist with the FBI, got into a car accident early in the morning. His Dodge Caravan collided with the bumper of a Toyota 4Runner during morning rush hour in Northwest Washington, D.C.
Only the Toyota saw any damage — to its left rear bumper. Huff was cited by D.C. police Officer Jenae Ross for “changing lanes without caution” and given a $100 ticket.
Yet because Huff was on the clock when the accident occurred, either he or his bosses decided to contest the ticket.
The problem? The government doesn’t allow for federal employees to be tried before local judges, meaning that any case against a federal agent has to go to federal court.
As a result, an assistant U.S. attorney has filed case 14-cfv-01399, a “notice of removal” in U.S. District Court. The case, “District of Columbia, Office of the Attorney General v. Benjamin Huff, Federal Bureau of Investigation” has been “removed” from the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles’ Adjudication Services office and moved to federal court.
The filing states that the case was moved “to ensure that federal officers or agents shall not be forced to answer for conduct assertedly within their duty in any court except a federal court.”
“This case is a prime example of why you should have an attorney closely examine all the evidence in a case. It appears an error, clerical or otherwise, occurred in the issuance of the ticket,” says Jason H Reece, President and Senior Attorney at the Law Offices Of Jason H. Reece. “Now, a simple traffic matter has ballooned into a federal case. I advise that individuals always have an attorney closely examine all legal documents including traffic citations.”
While the case may seem banal, the issue stems from the report take at the incident. The driver of the Toyota, Mark Andrew McCoy, told the officer that Huff’s Caravan was moving from the right lane to the left lane when it struck his car.
The report had also only taken McCoy’s report into account, and although Huff was issued a ticket, the report mistakenly stated that McCoy was cited instead.
The U.S. attorney’s office plans to argue against the report, saying that it is one-sided and that the wrong person was ticketed.
Huff’s government attorney explained to the court that the FBI found no basis for the citation, which helped the U.S. Department of Justice authorize Huff’s representation.
Representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the D.C. attorney general’s office, representing the DMV, declined to comment on the case. A court date for the case has not yet been scheduled.