The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Senator Tim Grendell and Rep. Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown) plan on introducing legislation to overturn a recent Supreme Court decision written by the GOP’s candidate for chief justice, Maureen O’Connor, which held that a person could be convicted of speeding (ordinarily a minor misdemeanor subjecting a person to a fine and points on their license) based on a law enforcement officer’s testimony without the aid of a radar gun if the officer has been specifically trained, certified, and experienced in visually determining if a vehicle is speeding.
Senator Tim Grendell, who lampooned against confirming Cathy Collins-Taylor because her supporters questioned the veracity of law enforcement officers who clearly perjured themselves, now is supporting overturning Ohio Supreme Court precedent in order to assure “better public confidence in this area of law enforcement.” Because law enforcement officers can be trusted when they’re attacking the Governor before an election, but not when issuing a speeding ticket. Hypocrite.
And the sad reality is that I feel bad for the Ohio Supreme Court. Because while the public perception is that they expanded police powers to prosecute speeders, they really didn’t do that at all. All they did was point out something that was a legal truism for years.
Speeding and DUI laws predate radar guns and breathalyzers. Guess how those cases were prosecuted? Guess how DUI laws are prosecuted like when a person refused to submit to a breathalyzer? Yep… those cases almost always break down to cruiser cams and officer credibility.
BTW, did you know that the police officer in the Ohio Supreme Court case actually had and used a doppler radar gun as well? His visual estimate of the vehicles speed was actually 12 mph slower than the radar gun. The officer wrote the ticket for a slightly lower speed than the radar gun so that the Defendant wouldn’t be compelled to make a court appearance to deal with the ticket. Did you know that the police officer was certified after being tested that required him to correctly determine the speed of another vehicle to within three to four miles per hour of the actual speed (which is about the margin of error on the electronic speed devices)?
The Supreme Court’s decision merely affirmed what the trial court, intermediate appellate court, and a majority of other Ohio appellate courts have found. In fact, the General Assembly has even passed a statute that allows a trooper that didn’t even observe you speeding to pull you over for speeding if a trooper using a radar gun radios the second officer immediately and says they saw you speeding!
In fact, the speeding statute specifically provides that a person could be charge with speeding without law enforcement necessarily using a radar gun:
“When a speed limit is established and posted in accordance with division (A) of this section, any law enforcement officer may apprehend a person violating the speed limit of the residential area by utilizing any of the means described in section 4511.091 of the Revised Code or by any other accepted method of determining the speed of a motor vehicle and may stop and charge the person with exceeding the speed limit. (emphasis added.)
All the Ohio Supreme Court did was legally recognized what the General Assembly commanded it to recognize, that there are other accepted methods of determining the speed of a motor vehicle besides a radar or laser device.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that the state legislature is thinking about prohibiting law enforcement from issuing speeding tickets that aren’t based on radar devices as it takes away officer discretion that could be abused.
However, I did feel it was necessary to point out just how horribly the media has presented this decision to the public that now the Ohio General Assembly is blasting the Ohio Supreme Court for enforcing the law as enacted by the General Assembly.
BTW, isn’t Grendell’s grandstanding particularly ironic?