If you get clocked speeding, blasting through a stop sign or committing a minor offense in the city of Golden, Ronald Miller, the hamlet's municipal court judge, is offering a far more civilized choice in lieu of paying your mandatory $25 court cost fee: the judge -- the kind we all wish would hear our case -- is asking that rule-breakers pleading no-contest or guilty in court, traipse to the grocery store and and purchase $25 worth of goods to benefit a local food bank instead of forking over the twenty five bucks to the court.
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The program, which began in 1998, has resulted in 760 boxes of food being donated to help those in need. "We're contributing a very small part to a very large problem, especially in these tough economic times," says Miller. "We can't do too much to help people this time of year." And while unyielding delinquents do have the choice to thumb their noses at the judge, opting instead to pay the court fee, Miller says that there have been "very few scrooges in the mix." In fact, the majority of people donate more than the required amount.
The judge, who will continue to offer the program through December 9, requires the guilty parties to shop for food and bring it -- and the receipt -- back to the court on the same day that their case is heard, which, for those of who anticipating a one-on-one with Miller, is always on Thursday. The food is collected by the Golden Streets Division and delivered to the Christian Action Guild, Golden's only food bank. "It's a great way to help people take responsibility for their actions and help their community at the same time," says the judge
Just in case you're worried that you can't accomplish the task because you're at a loss as to what to buy, the court provides a list of non-perishable food items and other necessities accepted by the food bank.
If there was ever a time to put the pedal to the metal in Golden, this is it. Ha. Just kidding, judge.