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post #1 of 24 Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 12:39 pm Thread Starter
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Thumbs down Coming to your state soon?

Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Speeding Ticket By Visual Guess

Police officers in Ohio can issue speeding tickets based on sight, state supreme court rules.

Ohio Supreme Court in a 5-1 decision yesterday, Ohio's Supreme Court upheld a speeding ticket based solely on how fast a driver appeared to be moving. The court considered the case of motorist Mark Jenney who drove through a State Route 21 radar speed trap operated by Copley police officer Christopher R Santimarino on July 3, 2008. Santimarino guessed based on the appearance of Jenney's black SUV that it was traveling at 79 MPH in a 60 zone.

Santimarino claimed that his thirteen years as a traffic cop and his certification in speed estimation by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy qualified him to make expert visual determinations of how fast vehicles are moving within 4 MPH. In court, Santimarino testified that his radar showed Jenney was traveling at 82 MPH on direct examination and 83 MPH on cross-examination.

Based on this, a district court convicted Jenney. On appeal, Jenney succeeded in having the radar evidence thrown out because the officer failed to produce the required certification documents at trial. The appeals court then ruled that the visual guess as to Jenney's speed was sufficient evidence for a conviction. Jenney appealed to the supreme court, which agreed with the lower court rulings that an officer's educated guess is sufficient to overcome that state's burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

"A majority of the appellate districts that have considered the issue have held that an officer's testimony that in his opinion, a defendant was traveling in excess of the speed limit is sufficient to sustain a conviction for speeding," Justice Maureen O'Connor wrote for the majority. "Given Santimarino's training, OPOTA certification, and experience in visually estimating vehicle speed, his estimation that Jenney was traveling 70 miles per hour was sufficient to support Jenney's conviction... We hold that a police officer's unaided visual estimation of a vehicle's speed is sufficient evidence to support a conviction for speeding in violation of R.C. 4511.21(D) without independent verification of the vehicle's speed if the officer is trained, is certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy or a similar organization that develops and implements training programs to meet the needs of law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve, and is experienced in visually estimating vehicle speed."

Justice Terrence O'Donnell filed a dissent that argued the majority essentially created a standard that the police officer is always right.

"Like any other witness, a police officer's credibility is to be determined by the jury or other fact-finder," O'Donnell wrote. "In fact, jury instructions given regularly by trial judges advise that a jury is privileged to believe all, part, or none of the testimony of any witness. Thus, I would assert that a broad standard as postulated by the majority that a trained, certified, and experienced officer's estimate of speed is sufficient evidence to support a conviction for speeding eclipses the role of the fact-finder to reject such testimony and thus such testimony, if found not to be credible, could, in some instances, be insufficient to support a conviction."

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post #2 of 24 Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 6:19 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Yep, heard that on NPR news this morning. No disrespect towards LEOs and their training - and I have no doubt I'm showing my ignorance of such things here - but I thought all speeding tickets had to be backed up by a measuring device of some kind.

I'm betting a good lawer could still beat that ticket and yes, it would be worth it. Well, maybe not THAT ticket (since it went to the state Supreme Court and the guy lost), but the next one.

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post #3 of 24 Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 6:31 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

That's just not right, at least use a stop watch and a known distance.

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post #4 of 24 Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 6:42 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Jack Cafferty has weighed in on this topic, with some interesting comments and a little bit of humor from his readers.

http://caffertyfile.blogs.cnn.com/20...eeding/?hpt=T3

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post #5 of 24 Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 7:09 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Un-freakin-believable!
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post #6 of 24 Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 9:26 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Hmmm... He had her on radar for 83/82 then could not show some paper to certify the radar (she is beating the ticket on a technicallity) and everyone gets upset when the judge then rules on the "estimate" and she is nailed.

She got what she had coming. Just my 2 cents.

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post #7 of 24 Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 9:56 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzeiler
Hmmm... He had her on radar for 83/82 then could not show some paper to certify the radar (she is beating the ticket on a technicallity) and everyone gets upset ...
In my job, I have to certify performance of various equipment and I'd be laughed/kicked out (or sued) if I could not produce the documentation certifying calibration of my test gear. The police do exactly the same: they are performing legal measurements and their equipment better be traceable. This is what they are paid for. Period. It may sound like a trifle, but it is not a mere technicality. If the cop cannot perform his job, he should get out of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzeiler
She got what she had coming. Just my 2 cents.
With due respect, this is not the point. It does not matter at all whether the particular defendant did or did not commit the violation. What matters is that this ruling sets a legal standard for all of us: now, no police officer needs to produce any measurements to issue a ticket. An "educated guess" is enough.

I am sure you met your share of honest LEO's, but I met my share of dishonest ones as well. One incident that stands out in my mind is when I got stopped for supposedly breaking a limit that my car at the time was not technically capable of. After my protests - and giving up the PBA card - the officer let me go. While I was still there, he then stopped next car down the road, without even bothering to go back to his vehicle to check his radar. Of course, he could not - it was not running, according to my detector - (and not, it was not a LIDAR). He simply locked in some previous reading and was stopping all of us on that.

I see speed enforcement as one of the worst things to happen to our motoring environment - for many reasons, I could go on and on... - and this Ohio ruling (if it is true, I did not bother checking) is a real low point.

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post #8 of 24 Old Jun 4th, 2010, 10:42 am
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

another pile of crap, just put it on top of the disappearing Miranda rights...

Is it me, or is this f'ing country going BACKWARDS???

All I can think about is all the innocent people in jail right now, due to someone's "credibility"......rrriiiggghhttt...

not saying they are always wrong but hey, do you want to be the one in jail if they happen to be wrong in your case?

I just keep clickin' em off....won't spend a penny in VA or OH now I guess. I wonder how many more communist states we'll have to ride around in the next 10 years.
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post #9 of 24 Old Jun 4th, 2010, 11:00 am
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Just another case of taxation without representation...

Isn't that what we started this country to get away from ?

Time to revolt....
Stock up on your guns and ammo....They might ultimately kill me but I'll take a few of em on my way out....

Time to Re-Free America !

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post #10 of 24 Old Jun 4th, 2010, 11:28 am Thread Starter
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Here's the solution . . . demand a jury trial!

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post #11 of 24 Old Jun 4th, 2010, 1:58 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Just happening now? Been that way in NY forever. Had a Sgt. in the local sheriff's office tell me that his men are trained to estimate speed accurately to within 1 mph. Have a neighbor and a niece who are LEOs tell me that it's a bunch of bull****. Whatever, usually the LEO wins in court.

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post #12 of 24 Old Jun 4th, 2010, 6:24 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

This (farce of a) ruling is simply a reflection of state budget woes and joe citizen gets to pick up the tab.
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post #13 of 24 Old Jun 5th, 2010, 12:00 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

As a retired state trooper, I have to say that this ruling is pure horses***. Yes, as part of our training we did do visual speed estimations and most of us got pretty good at it, but it was used strictly as a tool to initially identify speeders and to use it to visually confirm radar readings.

If you can't produce the certification for the equipment you used, be it the radar, breathalyzer, portable truck scales, speedometer, etc (and proof that you're certified to use said equipment) then, in all fairness, the case should be thrown out.

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post #14 of 24 Old Jun 6th, 2010, 9:11 am
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Policemen are the new tax collectors. They are used for revenue. They take your money because they have a gun and an organization to back them up. Welcome to Amerika............

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post #15 of 24 Old Jun 6th, 2010, 9:31 am
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

I think it's time once again to start a new country..

John

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post #16 of 24 Old Jun 6th, 2010, 9:36 am
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

If you were wearing a turban instead of a helmet you could get away with it easy or do anything else you wanted to.
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post #17 of 24 Old Jun 6th, 2010, 10:18 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batdriver51
If you were wearing a turban instead of a helmet you could get away with it easy or do anything else you wanted to.
Well actually here in Ontario a Toronto judge ruled that a guy (rag head) that got a ticket for not wearing his helmet was up held in court and the judge said. I donít care what you think about your religion you will were a helmet!
As far as the radar goes( you are guilty until proven other wise


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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by XTrooper
As a retired state trooper, I have to say that this ruling is pure horses***. Yes, as part of our training we did do visual speed estimations and most of us got pretty good at it, but it was used strictly as a tool to initially identify speeders and to use it to visually confirm radar readings.

If you can't produce the certification for the equipment you used, be it the radar, breathalyzer, portable truck scales, speedometer, etc (and proof that you're certified to use said equipment) then, in all fairness, the case should be thrown out.
Why are police officers so eager to be the state's tax collecting bitches? Is that REALLY what we were hired to do?

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post #19 of 24 Old Jun 6th, 2010, 6:43 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPSpen
I think it's time once again to start a new country..

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We don't need a new country. We just need the courage to turn this one back to its roots. Tragically, I don't think our founding fathers would recognize the place as things stand today.

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post #20 of 24 Old Jun 6th, 2010, 7:49 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

You got that right X Trooper.
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post #21 of 24 Old Jun 9th, 2010, 3:51 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Coming to your state soon? UPDATE

Court ruling on speeding tickets prompts outrage from Ohioans, action by lawmakers
Published: Tuesday, June 08, 2010, 7:10 PM Updated: Wednesday, June 09, 2010, 4:22 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ė Ohioans are outraged over last week's Ohio Supreme Court decision that said a police officer could write speeding tickets just by looking at a vehicle and estimating how fast it is moving.

And state lawmakers plan to do something about it.

The justices' ruling said that no radar detector is needed for a speeding citation to stick, just a certificate showing the officer has been trained to make educated guesses on what a speedometer is reading.

"Opening this Pandora's box will create an environment where there will be substantial abuse by law enforcement officials, not just over speeding, but from illegal searches, racial profiling and just police officers wanting to stop people for reasons legal and illegal," said ACLU Ohio legal director James Hardiman.

"We think it is a giant step backwards," he said.
Two of the most outspoken state lawmakers -- one a Democrat, the other Republican -- plan to introduce bills this fall aimed at overruling the court.

"The first thing we thought was to address the inability of an individual to ascertain how fast someone is going simply by looking," said state Rep. Robert Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat. "And the second concern -- it is just another way to stop someone for no particular reason."

Hagan's bill in the Ohio House will be similar to one state Sen. Tim Grendell, a Chester Township Republican, said he plans to introduce. The bills would require officers to use radar detectors or other technology to verify a vehicle's speed before issuing a ticket.
Such is already the policy of the Ohio Highway Patrol, whose primary duty is traffic enforcement.

It's a matter of assuring "better public confidence in this area of law enforcement," Grendell said.

It would be the right thing to do, according to scores of Plain Dealer readers who have filled the comment section of cleveland.com, a website affiliated with the newspaper, and logged phone calls and filed letters to the editor to complain about the court's ruling and demand that something be done about it.
They expressed worries about being profiled and having little chance to mount a defense against a speeding ticket.

Justice Maureen O'Connor, who wrote the 5-to-1 decision, stated: "We hold that a police officer's unaided visual estimation of a vehicle's speed is sufficient evidence to support a conviction for speeding," assuming the officer is trained and certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy or similar organization.

O'Connor is running for chief justice in the November election, and two other justices -- Judith Ann Lanzinger and Paul Pfeifer -- are running for re-election. Pfeifer is unopposed.

Readers responded with their concerns.
On profiling:
"So now an officer can stop you any time they want and just say you looked like you were speeding."

"Really? I mean, really? What is next -- 'well, he sure LOOKED like the suspect.'"

On the number of tickets that could be written:
"We all know that speeding tickets are written by municipalities strictly for the cash. The courts also get their cut with the court costs. Just another tax."

"This will make Linndale's income soar!"

On the power the ruling gives police officers:
"I wonder if, as a trained educator with a master's degree, the Ohio Supreme Court would rule that I can just decide a kid is stupid on first glance and fail him/her."

"They can't tell a deer from a dead body and we are supposed to believe they can accurately estimate our speed?"

On the court justices:
"PLEASE, PLEASE remember you voted for these people and you can vote them out."
O'Connor was joined in the majority by justices Pfeifer, Lanzinger, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton and Robert Cupp.

The ruling was also praised by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.
Justice Terrence O'Donnell dissented, saying the majority's position leaves too little room to challenge a police officer's credibility in these types of cases.

Chief Justice Eric Brown, who was appointed to the court in May and is running for election against O'Connor, did not participate in this case, Barberton v. Jenney.
The case involved a Summit County man, Mark Jenney, who challenged a ticket he received in 2008 from a Copley Township police officer.

Officer Christopher Santimarino stopped Jenney on Ohio 21 and estimated the motorist was going 73 mph in a 60 mph zone. Santimarino's radar detector clocked the vehicle at 82 or 83. The officer decided to write the ticket for 79 mph, closer to what the radar gun had and not his own estimate.

But when Jenney challenged the ticket in court, Jenney's attorney John Kim was able to get the radar evidence tossed because the officer was unable to prove he had been trained to use the device.

With no radar evidence, the court reverted to Santimarino's visual estimate and eventually elected to reduce the speeding citation to 70 mph.

Jenney contends he was not speeding and that Santimarino stopped the wrong vehicle. The Supreme Court's decision upholds a state appeals and lower court decisions.
Kim called the court's decision "ridiculous."

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post #22 of 24 Old Jun 9th, 2010, 9:41 pm
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

And then to throw more gas on your fire, Paul, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday that you don't have to actually have any drugs to be convicted of being a "major drug dealer".

Huh?

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content...n.html?sid=101

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post #23 of 24 Old Jun 10th, 2010, 10:44 am
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hschisler
And then to throw more gas on your fire, Paul, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday that you don't have to actually have any drugs to be convicted of being a "major drug dealer".

Huh?

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content...n.html?sid=101
Yup! Amazing how stupid this "drug war" makes us. Meanwhile the cartels just keep getting richer and more powerful.

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post #24 of 24 Old Jun 10th, 2010, 11:57 am
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Re: Coming to your state soon?

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Originally Posted by XTrooper
As a retired state trooper, I have to say that this ruling is pure horses***. Yes, as part of our training we did do visual speed estimations and most of us got pretty good at it, but it was used strictly as a tool to initially identify speeders and to use it to visually confirm radar readings.

If you can't produce the certification for the equipment you used, be it the radar, breathalyzer, portable truck scales, speedometer, etc (and proof that you're certified to use said equipment) then, in all fairness, the case should be thrown out.
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