Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 26, 2013

'Stunned' ticket holder learned of ticket in November 2011

BY ANNE STANTON astanton@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A woman who claimed she was never told about a Kalkaska County parking ticket until she was arrested on an outstanding warrant actually was aware of the legal matter nearly two years ago but did not resolve it, a court administrator said.

In a story that appeared in Wednesday’s Record-Eagle, Malissa Giannola claimed she was not aware of an outstanding Kalkaska County parking ticket from July 2011 until she was arrested Sept. 10 in the Detroit-area town of Rockwood, where she lives.

Kalkaska County Court Administrator Mark Holston said, however, that Giannola’s account is not correct. He said his office actually talked to Giannola about the matter in November 2011.

“She called our court staff and was informed of the bench warrant that day,” Holston said. “She was told we wouldn’t charge additional fees if she took care of the ticket immediately and there would be no further default fees. That was Nov. 17 of 2011. We never heard from her again until yesterday.”

Holston questioned why he hadn’t been contacted by the newspaper for the story. The newspaper failed to check with the court administrator to verify Giannola’s account.

Giannola, when contacted Wednesday about the discrepancy, claimed she had a traumatic brain injury in November of 2011 and doesn’t remember anything from that time.

“I don’t recall ever calling the court and speaking to them,” Giannola said. “I really do not. But with that being said, that was right around the time I had my traumatic brain injury. There were days I didn’t remember left and right. That was 2011. I don’t remember Christmas from that year.”

Todd Reardon, her husband, told the Record-Eagle he received the ticket after parking on the south side of Torch Lake.

Giannola called the court on Tuesday, the day before the Record-Eagle article ran.

“She said she didn’t want to have to come to court,” Holston said.

The court said it would apply $250 in bond money toward her ticket, fees and penalties with no further amount owed. The original ticket was $80.

Giannola said she called the court to reschedule her Oct. 2 bench warrant hearing because it conflicted with a worker’s compensation hearing involving her brain injury.

Holston said a bench warrant is the biggest tool courts have to enforce speeding tickets and violations.

“Otherwise people wouldn’t pay them,” he said. “If you can’t suspend their license or issue a bench warrant for failure to appear, people wouldn’t pay their tickets. The revenues are huge to the counties.”