When a defendant does not pay all fines and fees, the court can (and often does) refer the remaining balance to a collection agency. And the court will often (not always) refuse to set aside the conviction under 1203.4 until all the balance is paid off. It's ass-backward to insist that the petitioner pay the money first, when he can't pay because he's unemployed. And he's unemployed because of his conviction, which he needs to set aside so he can find a job. And round and round we go. But that's not (the only reason) why I was in a foul, foul mood today.
I have a client who is willing to pay--despite the fact that he's been homeless for more than a decade. The court previously denied his petition because he didn't pay all fines. The problem here is that the collection agency, GC Services, cannot locate his account. The court record shows that the fines were referred to GC Services, and the court previously denied his 1203.4 petition because of it. But GC Services can't find his account, so round and round we go. I talked to 5 different individuals at GCS and got dropped from the call twice--before finally talking to one of their "supervisors" with a different phone number.
But then it hit me. These are good facts to challenge (some) courts' absolute refusal to exercise their discretion to grant a 1203.4 petition with or without the full payment of all fines and fees. In fact, the facts don't get much better than this. So is this an opportunity for strategic appeal?
UPDATE (9/5/2013): The court granted the petition after being told what was going on. No appeal.