Their Lying Eyes

I don’t see any potential problems here:

Attention lead foots: Police don’t need radar to cite you for speeding.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this morning that an officer trained to estimate speed by sight doesn’t need an electronic gauge to catch speeders.

The 5-1 ruling was a defeat for 27-year-old Akron-area motorist Mark W. Jenney and speeders across the state. Jenney had challenged a visual speed estimate by a Copley police officer, but a trial court and the 9th District Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.

The 8th District Court of Appeals, based in Cleveland, has ruled that police need more than sight alone to meet the standard needed to convict someone of speeding.

“The Eighth District stands alone in holding that an officer’s visual estimation of the speed of a vehicle is insufficient to support a finding of guilt, and we agree with the courts that have found the opposite,” Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote for the majority. “Rational triers of fact could find a police officer’s testimony regarding his unaided visual estimation of a vehicle’s speed, when supported by evidence that the officer is trained, certified by (the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy) or a similar organization, and experienced in making such estimations, sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant’s speed. Independent verification of the vehicle’s speed is not necessary to support a conviction for speeding.”

First off, let’s just point out how hopeless our press is these days- “Attention lead foots.” This ruling doesn’t affect just speeders, it affects everyone, because you are now a de jure speeder so long as a cop says so. It doesn’t matter if if you were actually going ten miles under the speed limit, it is now legal to ticket you anyway, on the obviously firm legal position of “THE COP SAID SO.”

Second, I can not imagine this will be allowed to stand an additional challenge, but this just opens up the door for all sorts of mayhem. Aside from the various ways this can be abused by cops wanting revenge on a neighbor or an ex, or the ways this will complicate driving while black, this also will become the newest way to detain and end up searching anyone who drives on the road. The pretext will be speeding, and then they’ll just lie about you looking suspicious. Drug warriors are very happy, as the police will now have the right to pull you over whenever they want and can just claim that you were speeding.






187 replies
  1. 1
    YellowJournalism says:

    Are you sure this law wasn’t put into place in Arizona? Because it’s Arizona stupid.

  2. 2
    wobbly says:

    http://wonkette.com/415759/jan.....r-what-she

    And this person is a freely elected governor?

  3. 3
    Death Panel Truck says:

    The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this morning that an officer trained to estimate speed by sight doesn’t need an electronic gauge to catch speeders.

    So how were speeders ticketed before the advent of radar?

  4. 4
    A Guest says:

    @Death Panel Truck: capriciously, per the post.

    ETA: And sometimes by a cop driving a Chevy Caprice, to boot.

  5. 5
    JBerardi says:

    Come on, John, these are Law Enforcement Professionals. They’re trained to make these kind of judgment calls! George Will told me so.

  6. 6
    Michael says:

    “Ah’m proud to be ‘Murkan, where at least Ah know Ah’m freeeeeeee…..”

  7. 7
    mantis says:

    They did issue speeding tickets before radar guns. In fact, radar guns are not used by police in some states. Those states still issue speeding tickets. There are ways to get a reasonably accurate visual assessment of a vehicles speed. The officers are trained in this.

    Just sayin…

  8. 8
    Nick says:

    @wobbly: Actually, no, she’s not. She’s a freely elected Secretary of State who became governor because the previous one got promoted to the US Cabinet.

  9. 9
    Chyron HR says:

    @wobbly:

    Brewer was appointed, not elected.

  10. 10
    pls says:

    Also a great way to raise revenue (instead of actually taxing people who demand governmental services that they think come free).

  11. 11
    Halteclere says:

    @Death Panel Truck:

    So how were speeders ticketed before the advent of radar?

    Before RADAR, police used a stopwatch to time someone from a set Point A to Point B. The time to travel the distance at various speeds was already determined, so the officer only had to compare the travel time with a chart to determine the speed. Until recently (and this may still be in use) it wasn’t uncommon to find white marks in the middle of the road a 1/4 mile apart to provide visuals for an officer in an airplane.

  12. 12
    donnah says:

    Every day it gets more and more embarrassing to admit I’m from Ohio. I live here. Good lord.

    I read that article in our paper today and I could NOT believe it. So now the cops can just eyeball you and tell if you’re speeding. They can write a citation and fine you based on their estimation of your speed.

    It’s one more way to raise revenue, plain and simple. Plus they won’t have to buy any more of those expensive laser radar guns!

  13. 13
    smedley says:

    Missing from our media about this and the Arizona law is any discussion of the Fourth Amendment, which both clearly violate. Have the Bill of Rights been overturned and I missed it?

  14. 14
    CanadaGoose says:

    “This ruling doesn’t effect just speeders, it effects everyone”

    It doesn’t affect just speeders, it affects everyone.

    Affect is a verb. Effect is a noun.

    But the sentiments are correct in all respects.

  15. 15
    Sheila says:

    And as I have learned from my many friends who are Public Defenders (and my husband, who was once a member of that fine group), police officers are as likely to lie as criminal suspects, which isn’t surprising, because once one buys into a “thug” mentality, one is prey to it oneself.

  16. 16
    feebog says:

    OK, I can top this. In California, speed limits are reviewed every 7 years. In order for cops to use radar, state law says the speed limit must conform to the average speed in the study, REGARDLESS of the posted speed limit in the area. In other words, the speed limit can be 35, but if motorists are doing an average of 45, the speed limit will be raised at least 5 mph, maybe 10. So, we see speed limits on narrow, two lane streets pumped up, and speed limits varying wildly. We have one street in our area that goes from 30 to 25 (school zone) to 35, to 25 (another school zone) to 40, back to 25 (another school zone) back to 40, and then down again to 30. Insanity.

  17. 17
    Perry Como says:

    They did issue speeding tickets before radar guns. In fact, radar guns are not used by police in some states. Those states still issue speeding tickets. There are ways to get a reasonably accurate visual assessment of a vehicles speed. The officers are trained in this.

    Then I’m sure an officer would not mind submitting to a double blind test in order to gauge his accuracy for the court.

  18. 18
    John Cole says:

    @mantis: That was before a four decade assault on every amendment but the 2nd and before everyone American was presumed to be a terrorist or a drug dealer until they proved themselves to be innocent and before every police station in the country found a way to get rich quick by impounding property and money and then making you prove it was yours and not being used for bad purposes.

  19. 19
    El Cid says:

    Here in Atlanta local budgets are extremely tight, so checkpoints and patrols have vastly increased as a form of revenue.

    I’m sure that giving cops magic authority to tell you’re speeding just by lookin’ at ya will help with that.

    Also, they ought to be authorized to shoot anyone that they feel like was speeding, and then have the relatives repay the police for fuel and bullets.

  20. 20
    LGRooney says:

    Are the damned environmentalists guilty because abuse of this will lead to more people abandoning their cars and riding bicycles or walking and, therefore, a massive loss of revenue for the oil companies? Or is it the environmentalists in cahoots with Grover Norquist since the less automobiles on the road the more constrained become local government budgets? Or is it Obamamama and her anti-fat crusade? Or, perhaps they’re all in bed together and all we need is to throw in some loudmouthed South Carolinian to finally spill the beans?

  21. 21
    ChicagoTom says:

    @Halteclere:

    Before RADAR, police used a stopwatch to time someone from a set Point A to Point B. The time to travel the distance at various speeds was already determined, so the officer only had to compare the travel time with a chart to determine the speed. Until recently (and this may still be in use) it wasn’t uncommon to find white marks in the middle of the road a 1/4 mile apart to provide visuals for an officer in an airplane.

    Another method used is pacing…where a cop will follow you for a period of time and mirror your speed.

    But I don’t recall there ever being a time when a cop could ticket you because it looked like you were going too fast. How does one defend against that? That isn’t “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”

  22. 22
    Shygetz says:

    @CanadaGoose:

    Affect is a verb. Effect is a noun.

    Maybe that madness works in Canada, buddy, but in the rest of the English-speaking world effect is both a noun and a verb meaning “to bring about” (e.g. effect an escape).

    But yeah, John used it wrong. Bad John.

  23. 23
    Scuffletuffle says:

    Where, oh where, has my presumption of innocence gone? Did it fall out of my car?

    Dammit…I broke the thread. Sorry.

  24. 24
    cleek says:

    @mantis:

    The officers are trained in this.

    and first-base umpires are trained to call runners safe or out.

    i’d prefer a bit more precision.

  25. 25
    El Cid says:

    @John Cole:

    That was before a four decade assault on every amendment but the 2nd

    Don’t forget the 10th! States’ rights!

  26. 26
    LGRooney says:

    @feebog: I was stopped in Orange County on one of the toll roads for doing the speed limit. Why? Because everyone else was doing 10-15 over the posted making me suspicious!

  27. 27
    Rosalita says:

    This is BS, and terrifying. Abuse will be rampant. I don’t trust the cops as it is.

  28. 28
    ChicagoTom says:

    @Perry Como:

    Then I’m sure an officer would not mind submitting to a double blind test in order to gauge his accuracy for the court.

    That’s actually a pretty good idea.

    I also wonder if more speeders will request a trial by jury if the cop’s estimate is the only evidence. I cant imagine most Ohio residents in a jury pool would consider a cops visual estimate beyond a reasonable doubt.

  29. 29
    salacious crumb says:

    hey this nation is going bankrupt, what with all of us having to pay Goldman Sachs and AIG and fund settlement constructions and occupations etc etc…we gotta make money somehow….

  30. 30
    Steve says:

    “The Eighth District stands alone in holding that an officer’s visual estimation of the speed of a vehicle is insufficient to support a finding of guilt, and we agree with the courts that have found the opposite,” Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote for the majority.

    Let’s focus on that language for a moment. The court is saying that this is nothing new. In fact, the court is saying that ALL THE OTHER COURTS have already recognized this to be the law, and this court is the last one to go along.

    We can all still disagree, of course. But the whole parade of horribles, the epidemic of cops getting revenge on an ex, speeding being used as an excuse to search every car for drugs, all of those things would have been happening already if they were going to happen, because every other court (there are 11 districts in Ohio aside from the Eighth District) already made this ruling long ago.

  31. 31
    John Cole says:

    @CanadaGoose: Thanks. That was horrible.

  32. 32
    mantis says:

    @Perry Como:

    Then I’m sure an officer would not mind submitting to a double blind test in order to gauge his accuracy for the court.

    Court docs:

    At trial, Santimarino testified that he had been employed as a patrolman with the Copley Police Department for 13 years. He testified that he was certified by OPOTA and had been working in traffic enforcement since 1995. Santimarino testified that as part of his OPOTA training, he was trained to visually estimate the speed of a vehicle. In order to be certified by OPOTA, Santimarino was required to show that he could visually estimate a vehicle’s speed to within three to four miles per hour of the vehicle’s actual speed, which he did. Further, Santimarino testified that since becoming a police officer in 1995, he had performed hundreds of visual estimations. Santimarino testified that based on his training and experience, he had estimated that Jenney’s vehicle was traveling 70 miles per hour on July 3, 2008.

    Should every trained officer be required to perform “double blind tests” for the court when tickets are challenged?

    @John Cole:

    That was before a four decade assault on every amendment but the 2nd and before everyone American was presumed to be a terrorist or a drug dealer until they proved themselves to be innocent and before every police station in the country found a way to get rich quick by impounding property and money and then making you prove it was yours and not being used for bad purposes.

    Ok, but what does any of that have to do with a person’s ability to gauge the speed of a vehicle?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying cops are perfect or anything, nor am I saying this is a good thing. I’m just saying it’s not like this is some crazy new thing they came up with. Speeding was illegal before radar guns.

  33. 33
    some fool says:

    I don’t want to defend the cops or anything, but the first question that popped into my mind when I read the excerpt was “what was the speed limit where the alleged violation happened?”

    I mean, if the guy was driving 45 in 20 MPH zone, that would be reasonably easy to eyeball, I would think.

    The news story doesn’t address that question though.

  34. 34
    MattMinus says:

    Nothing like a completely non-falsifiable charge that you cannot defend yourself against. I can just imagine the problems this will cause from what I’ve seen with parking tickets in my neighborhood.

    The fact that you’ve received a parking ticket is prima facie evidence of your guilt. So, if someone has to meet quota, they just write you a ticket for, say, parking in front of a driveway, whether you have or not. The ticket has an address on it, and there is a driveway at that address, so you have no fact to challenge. Annoying as this is, at least it doesn’t grant the pre-text for hauling you in.

    If I was a black Ohioan, I’d be looking for a device that kept timestamped logs of my speed.

  35. 35
    hilzoy fangirl says:

    Second, I can not imagine this will be allowed to stand an additional challenge, but this just opens up the door for all sorts of mayhem.

    Unfortunately, there will be no additional challenge. The Ohio Supreme Court is the highest court in Ohio; the only court that can overrule it is the U.S. Supreme Court, which literally cannot review this decision because there is no federal law or constitutional issues involved. (Regardless, the Court would be unlikely to grant review even if there were, and would probably side with Ohio if it did review the case anyway.) The only way this decision gets fixed is if the Ohio Supreme Court later changes its mind or the Ohio legislature decides to change the law.

    So the lesson is, don’t drive in Ohio.

  36. 36
    Hiram Taine says:

    @LGRooney: I had a friend who was pulled over because he came to a complete stop at a stop sign.. Yep, you guessed it, everyone else was doing a “rolling stop” so actually stopping is suspicious.

  37. 37
    bkny says:

    let me point out how useless our press is … via time magazine’s pool reporter earlier today:

    POTUS does not have a jacket. FLOTUS is wearing a white sweater and a red and white skirt. She is carrying a big, white purse.

    http://thepage.time.com/june-3-2010-pool-report-2/

  38. 38
    MTiffany says:

    So long as I get to be in charge, I’m all in favor of doing away with the Constitution and the rule of law. It’s other people I don’t trust to be as magnanimous as I.

  39. 39
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Don’t drive in Ohio is the best advice.

    And if I am forced to visit Ohio, can I submit the evidence from my GPS then charge the local Ohio court for all of my associated costs when I win? I’ll be staying at the 4 Seasons, you can reach me there.

    Saw a cafe sign near the Indiana/Ohio border once. It said: Coffee and chocolate to ease the pain of Ohio.

    @LGRooney: I’ve heard more stories like this. What they have now in Cali are guns that tell how close you are following the car ahead of you, and they ticket you for that. Which, frankly, is a bigger safety concern on a crowded expressway.

  40. 40
    MRK says:

    @ChicagoTom: If the judge instructs them that an officer’s visual estimation is sufficient to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which the court just said they should, then most juries will follow the judge’s instructions. Regardless of its merits, jury nullification is extremely rare in this country.

  41. 41
    Eric S. says:

    Of course you know certain sceptics note that perhaps 10,000 of the nations’s most elite highway patrolmen are out there waiting for us after we start, but let’s stay positively: Think of the fact that there’s not one state in the 50 that has the death penalty for speeding… although I’m not so sure about Ohio.

    – Organizer (Brock Yates), Cannonball Run.

  42. 42
    MattMinus says:

    @ChicagoTom

    I’m a bit of a legal do-it-yourselfer, and, from my experience, you can’t get a jury trial for a speeding ticket.

  43. 43
    MRK says:

    @hilzoy fangirl: That’s not entirely true. Younger abstention only applies if there’s an “adequate and independent state law ground” for the decision. I haven’t read the opinion yet, but I’m not sure how they get around a potential due process issue.

    I will say that a facial challenge is extremely unlikely to succeed, but that it is extremely likely that lots of tickets and/or convictions will be thrown out if the defendant can prove sufficiently to create reasonable doubt that the officer was acting in good faith. And we’ll probably see significant litigation on the standard of proof required to do that.

  44. 44
    Perry Como says:

    Should every trained officer be required to perform “double blind tests” for the court when tickets are challenged?

    Not sure why you put double blind tests in scare quotes; it’s an actual testing methodology. I would question the OPOTA certification. Did the officer take a single certification test 15 years ago? Are officers required to get re-certified yearly?

    I would also question the validity of eye balling someone travelling at high speeds. What’s the visual difference between 65, 70 and 75 MPH? 90, 95 and 100? Can an officer really tell the difference between 58 MPH and 62 MPH? Or does he just round off?

    Does the officer count in seconds and judge based on distance between landmarks? If so, I would love to see a demonstration of that. Even easier, I’ll drop a ball and ask the officer how fast that ball is travelling. Next I’ll throw the ball and ask the same question. Easy!

  45. 45
    mithaler says:

    Are the results from the radar guns even stored by any authority other than the cop’s say-so? Because I don’t see why it’s any harder to falsify that than the cop’s trained eyesight. At the very least, the radar guns certainly don’t catch license plates, so we’re already following the cop’s word that the result from the radar gun came from the car in question.

    So basically, I don’t really see how this is any worse in terms of falsifiability.

  46. 46
    superking says:

    Remember, the easiest way for a cop to search your car is for you to consent to the search. This can be very innocuous:

    If a police officer ever says, “I’m going to take a look in your car, ok?” the appropriate response is “No.”

    If you say, ok, you’ve consented to the search.

  47. 47
    Martin says:

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Many years ago I dated the daughter of the CT state police chief and he said that the police can pull over pretty much anyone they want and cite them under ‘too fast for conditions’ – even if you are under the speed limit. Almost every state has a statute like this.

    The only condition that you break is the officers estimation that your speed is too fast. He can cite weather, traffic, wildlife, leaves blowing across the highway, pretty much anything he wants. He told me that generally it’s not abused, but it serves as a convenient catch-all when you find that jackass swerving through traffic during rush hour because he wants to do the speed limit + 20 but all you yahoos decided to go to work and harsh his morning and now he can only go the speed limit – 5.

    As he told me, the speed limit is just that – a limit. You can’t go over it and sometimes you shouldn’t even go close to it.

  48. 48
    gnomedad says:

    Aside from the various ways this can be abused by cops wanting revenge on a neighbor or an ex, or the ways this will complicate driving while black, this also will become the newest way to detain and end up searching anyone who drives on the road. The pretext will be speeding, and then they’ll just lie about you looking suspicious. Drug warriors are very happy, as the police will now have the right to pull you over whenever they want and can just claim that you were speeding.

    I agree in spirit, but if a cop is willing to lie, there are all sorts of things to lie about besides speed. If someone blows by me at 90 mph, I’d hope a cop could stop said individual with or without radar. I’d rather prohibit cops from searching my car for drugs just because I get stopped for a traffic violation. Or better, just call off the damn drug wars.

  49. 49
    Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac says:

    As a young punk kid with long hair, I’ve been pulled over more times than I care to count, always for weird things. One time I even asked to see the Radar reading in the cop car because I wasn’t speeding when the cop pulled me over, and the cop said he had accidentally “cleared it” and gave me a warning instead.

    So happy that now i’ll just get a ticket instead.

    Offtopic-
    Balloon-Juice margins are under assault by an ad by Laura Winzeler Designs, it’s the ad that says “mixed media mosaics” with “yes we can” at the top of it. Please kill this ad.

  50. 50
    MattMinus says:

    @superking:

    And if you say “no”, you’ve requested that he detain you while he brings in the drug sniffing dogs.

  51. 51
    edmund dantes says:

    LOL… you people still live in states that treat speeding as a criminal matter?

    All the smart states have turned it into a civil matter where preponderance of evidence rules the day. It’s sad, but the reality is unless you get a judge (or a magistrate in even more watered down jurisdictions) willing to stick his neck out and not believe the Cop, you are shit out of luck.

  52. 52
    Randy P says:

    OT, but is anyone following today’s oil-leak headlines? (Mostly they fill me with despair but when there’s one of those tiny glimmers of hope I read for awhile).

    BP says they “successfully” cut off the pipe with a “giant pair of shears”, in preparation to attempting to put another cap on the pipe. I’m not sure why this cap is different from the Top Hat or the Baseball Cap or the Stylish Beret or whatever other caps they’ve tried and failed. But anyway that’s what they’re saying.

    However, my main reaction is… GIANT PAIR OF SHEARS? Aren’t we talking about a pipe which is 10 feet in diameter or something? Who was holding these shears? Who makes shears like that?

  53. 53
    Quiddity says:

    How many courts are involved?

    I get the “trial court” (upheld conviction)

    But then we hear of

    9th District Court of Appeals (upheld conviction)
    8th District Court of Appeals (visual estimation is insufficient)
    Supreme Court of Ohio (upheld conviction)

    What’s the 8th District Court of Appeals doing here?

  54. 54
    MRK says:

    @Quiddity: The 8th District’s holding was being presented as the better alternative rule of law. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected it in favor of the 9th District’s holding affirming the conviction.

  55. 55
    Rosalita says:

    but it serves as a convenient catch-all when you find that jackass swerving through traffic during rush hour because he wants to do the speed limit + 20 but all you yahoos decided to go to work and harsh his morning and now he can only go the speed limit – 5.

    seems like there is never a statey around when that happens

  56. 56
    John says:

    And if you say “no”, you’ve requested that he detain you while he brings in the drug sniffing dogs.

    Indeed. Jay-Z explains this dilemma well in “99 Problems”:

    “Do you mind if I look round the car a little bit?”
    Well my glove compartment is locked so is the trunk and the back
    And I know my rights so you gonna need a warrant for that
    “Aren’t you sharp as a tack? You some type of lawyer or something?”
    “Or somebody important or something?”
    Nah I ain’t pass the bar but I know a little bit
    Enough that you won’t illegally search my shit
    “Well see how smart you are when the K-9’s come”

  57. 57
    geg6 says:

    OT, but this made me LOL:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.....hp?ref=fpc

    The Randian rock gods of Rush (or Shittiest Band EVAH, as I like to call them) don’t like Rand stealing their productivitah!

  58. 58
    jeffreyw says:

    Way OT:

    Some exciting news this morning: We have reached agreement in principle to incorporate FiveThirtyEight’s content into NYTimes.com.

  59. 59
    JasonF says:

    @Quiddity: This presumably isn’t the first case to challenge the use of visual estimation. So in one case, the 8th District ruled one way and in this case, the 9th District ruled the other. The Supreme Court heard the appeal in the 9th District case, but looked at what was going on in the other districts as well. This is pretty common for reviewing courts to do — most reviewing court shave more than one lower court that feeds into them, and it’s pretty common to compare what’s going on across all of those lower courts before coming to a decision in a specific case.

    As for this specific case, I really can’t get too outraged over the fact that the Ohio Supreme Court held that eyewitness testimony by a professional trained in estimating speeds is sufficient to convict someone of speeding. There is a bigger problem — courts are too quick to believe cops, no matter what they testify to — but I don’t think taking a radar gun out of the picture changes anything. The best advice I read is that if you want to challenge a ticket based on visual estimation, get the cop to testify as to how long he estimated you, where you were when he started estimating you, where you were when he finished, then use the old “r * t = d” to demonstrate that you weren’t speeding. Easier said than done, but that’s the trick to it.

  60. 60
    hilzoy fangirl says:

    @MRK:

    From the opinion, it doesn’t appear as though any due process claim was raised.

  61. 61
    Randy P says:

    @jeffreyw:

    Way OT:

    Some exciting news…

    @geg6:

    OT, but this made me LOL…

    @(me):

    OT, but is anyone…

    Methinks we may be hungry for an open thread.

    And in answer to my own question, apparently the pipe is 20 inches.

  62. 62
    Mary G says:

    @Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac: Laura W is one of us, though I haven’t seen her lately, and her ad has been on BJ forever, and it’s pretty to look at, so I for one don’t want it killed.

  63. 63
    Comrade Dread says:

    @ChicagoTom:

    I cant imagine most Ohio residents in a jury pool would consider a cops visual estimate beyond a reasonable doubt.

    I think you underestimate the deference most people give to cops.

    I imagine more than a few people would be willing to take the cop’s word for it, because he wears a uniform.

    This is, in fact, one of my biggest complaints with modern conservatism: they rail against agents of the State as inefficient, bloated, untrustworthy, wasteful, corrupt bureaucrats, unless that agent happens to be dressed up in a uniform and carries a gun, then they’re superhuman saints whose word and intentions are pure as the driven snow.

  64. 64
    Corner Stone says:

    I think it’s pretty clear that the only logical outcome from this ruling is for us to start locking people up *before* they get a chance to speed anywhere.

  65. 65
    Rosalita says:

    @Mary G:

    It has to do with the browser being used…. IE8 has issues, Chrome is fine

  66. 66
    JohnR says:

    @mantis:
    1. Who certifies the certifiers? Are there records showing accuracy of these estimations? How many traffic cops get certified annually, and what are the minimum requirements for certification? In other words, how accurate do the estimations have to be to be certified? How does this compare to accuracy records of radar guns?
    2. The question really isn’t about this particular cop and this particular case – it’s the general decision. Now any ‘trained and certified’ officer can legally ticket you for speeding. This seems to be not so much about speeding as about giving the cops official cover for their ticketing/stop-and-look decisions.

    And as an aside, I’m using IE7 and still have the margin spillover effect. I thought I’d fixed it a while back, but it started up again recently.

  67. 67
    pharniel says:

    MIchigan did something interesting….State Police issuing speeding tickets have the fine go to the State for the Schools.

    Same thing with any other Law Officer issuing a traffic citation on a state road.

    Does wonders for reducing the amount of speed trapping and increasing the amout of actual law enforcement going on.

    Personally I think that the law should be further amended that any property siezures by the police and any ticket or civil fine go to the schools.

    You’d see a radical decrease in the amount of tickets written.

  68. 68
    soonergrunt says:

    @YellowJournalism:
    You beat me to that. If it’s not an Arizona law, it soon will be as a way to bootstrap the “law enforcement encounter” of the breathing while brown law.

    “Look, the guy was speeding. Trust me on this. So then I busted him because he didn’t have his birth certificate on him.” –Arpaio

  69. 69
    Citizen Alan says:

    @JasonF:

    There is a bigger problem—courts are too quick to believe cops, no matter what they testify to—but I don’t think taking a radar gun out of the picture changes anything.

    Agreed. I understand John’s outrage, but I see little difference between a copy who testifies that he estimated you to be speeding and a cop who determined that you were speeding according to the radar gun for which he is not required to keep a log.

  70. 70
    Chinn Romney says:

    @some fool:

    The Court document in post 32 had it. Estimated 79 in a 60 zone, in moderately heavy traffic.

  71. 71
    inkadu says:

    @Shygetz: While we’re on the subject, “affect” is also a noun meaning someone’s emotional state.

    Also, Canada geese spend plenty of time in the lower 48.

  72. 72
    scav says:

    @Randy P: You didn’t see the giant pair of shears descend out of the darkness? ! oh. oh. sound tracks were needed. you really really really want one of these giant pairs of tinsnips.

  73. 73
    debbie says:

    I’d bet people in Columbus are far more upset by the increasing use of red-light cameras than they are by this guess-timating.

  74. 74
    Citizen Alan says:

    Also, just to clarify something that casual readers may have misunderstood. The opinion does not say that the mere fact that a cop testifies that you were speeding automatically establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It says that the trier of fact may conclude that you were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based solely on that officer’s testimony. It’s still possible to impeach the cop’s testimony by other means, but if the trier of fact believes the cop, that is sufficient evidence to establish guilt.

  75. 75
    Quiddity says:

    @JasonF & MRK: Thanks for clarifying.

  76. 76
    Bill Section 147 says:

    Does anyone else feel like this is going to end liek a bad 60’s movie. Your know, the caricature of the big-bellied sheriff totally in control of a small town. Except now the small town is Ohio.

  77. 77
    Punchy says:

    Anyone good enough to discern speed by eye well enough to do this accurately sure as hell isn’t a cop….he/she’s a pitching scout for a MLB team.

  78. 78
    Corner Stone says:

    @debbie:

    I’d bet people in Columbus are far more upset by the increasing use of red-light cameras than they are by this guess-timating.

    Well if they aren’t, I sure as hell am. I can’t stand to see those cameras every frickin where. Just boggles me mind.

  79. 79
    MTiffany says:

    @Rosalita: Who do you think that jackass is?

  80. 80
    ruemara says:

    Not to go There, but I do wonder how often these ‘eyeball’ speed tickets’ will be going to persons of the browner persuasion. Because those brown dudes are kinda speedy.

  81. 81
    Nerull says:

    The well pipe is something like 8 inches, not 10 ft. They’re drilling for oil, not the chunnel.

  82. 82
    Nerull says:

    Also, I’m pretty sure officer estimation is SOP in several states. As someone said, a few states don’t use radar guns, and several that do only consider it a tool available to officers, but their judgement is still considered the most important.

  83. 83
    Rosalita says:

    @MTiffany:

    LOLZ, true, or following you too close when you are obeying the speed limit, that’s another sadistic cop trick

  84. 84
    Joey Maloney says:

    @superking: If a police officer ever says, “I’m going to take a look in your car, ok?” the appropriate response is “No.”

    “I do not consent to any search.”

    “Am I being detained?”

    “Am I free to go?”

    “I am exercising my right to remain silent. I request an attorney.”

    That should be pretty much all you ever say to a police officer, unless the question is “Will you accept this cash award of ONE MILLION DOLLARS for good citizenship?”

    http://flexyourrights.org/

  85. 85
    Don says:

    And if you say “no”, you’ve requested that he detain you while he brings in the drug sniffing dogs.

    So who told you that asserting your rights was always going to be easy? Yes, sometimes refusing a search will result in the officer going the extra mile to justify doing one anyway. So what? You want magic, rent Harry Potter.

    The reality is, though, that most times when a cop says they’re going to have to go get a warrant then they’re just bluffing. If you don’t care enough to sweat it out for a few minutes then knock yourself out, consent. Personally I’d rather wait a minute for the officer to figure out that I’m not going to fold than have them make a tremendous mess out of my crap (much less risk outright shenanigans).

  86. 86
    MattR says:

    @Rosalita:

    following you too close when you are obeying the speed limit, that’s another sadistic cop trick

    This one is 50-50. I would actually guess that more often than not the tailgating cop is not trying to bait you, but is actually in a hurry and is trying to get you to go faster.

    (FWIW I have a friend who installs the electronics on police cars so he sometimes drives a “display model” to conventions and such. He gets very annoyed when he is driving in the left lane of the highway and the cars in front of him see the lightbar on the display car and slow down to the speed limit, or less)

    (EDIT: I may not be the best person to ask about on this, though. I generally go 75 in a 65 and will only slow down to 72 or so if I see a cop in a speed trap on the side of the road)

  87. 87
    EcoNerd says:

    @Shygetz:
    It’s also the case that ‘affect’ is a noun, meaning the outward expression of emotional response. Useful in distinguishing external expression vs. internal experience of feeling: Although her affect was one of serenity, she was in fact quite upset.

    But John still did it wrong

  88. 88
    artem1s says:

    @Halteclere:

    Barney was only allowed one bullet in HIS RADAR gun.

  89. 89
    mantis says:

    @Perry Como:

    Not sure why you put double blind tests in scare quotes; it’s an actual testing methodology.

    I’m quite familiar with double-blind testing. The reason I put it in quotes was that I don’t see any way that method would be used to test a person’s ability to gauge the speed of a vehicle. Double blind testing is where neither the participants nor the observers are aware of which participants are in the control group or the experimental group. How that could be applicable here I have no idea, so I doubted your familiarity with this method of research.

    Does the officer count in seconds and judge based on distance between landmarks?

    That’s the way they used to do it. That, and pacing.

  90. 90
    mantis says:

    @JohnR:

    1. Who certifies the certifiers? Are there records showing accuracy of these estimations? How many traffic cops get certified annually, and what are the minimum requirements for certification? In other words, how accurate do the estimations have to be to be certified? How does this compare to accuracy records of radar guns?

    I’m not actually an expert in Ohio’s police training. Sorry.

    2. The question really isn’t about this particular cop and this particular case – it’s the general decision. Now any ‘trained and certified’ officer can legally ticket you for speeding. This seems to be not so much about speeding as about giving the cops official cover for their ticketing/stop-and-look decisions.

    This isn’t new. All of the “now they can do this” comments are misguided. They already could do it. That’s why they’re trained in it. It just so happens that someone tried to challenge it in court, and, ultimately, failed. Nothing has really changed as a result of this ruling.

  91. 91
    Brandon says:

    @mantis: Here’s the thing that’s funny, if the cops use a radar or laser, they have to prove that the machine was calibrated at thetime it was used. However, if a cop uses their eyeball, all they have to do is say that they were trained at the academy, no matter how long ago it was. No need to calibrate the officers ability, because they are somehow better and more reliable than a machine. And tell me exactly how it is possible for anyone to accurately judge the speed of a vehicle/object travelling directly towards or away from them.

    @hilzoy fangirl: There are no possible Constitutional claims? I don’t know much about ConLaw, but how about Due Process?

  92. 92
    Joey Maloney says:

    @mantis:

    I don’t understand your confusion. Neither the officer being tested nor the person recording his responses is aware of the actual speed of the test vehicle.

    Viola, double-blind.

  93. 93
    Jager says:

    @Death Panel Truck:

    With certified speedometers, they had to follow you for a certain distance to gauge your speed. If you were hauling ass down a city street and they didn’t get a speed on you, they cited you for careless or reckless driving.

    This ruling is so stupid on so many levels; just how close can a “trained cop” guess your speed, 40 in a 35? How about the difference between 15 and 20 mph in a school zone? 62 in a 55?

  94. 94
    Brandon says:

    @mantis: Can you explain how it is possible, training or not, that a person can accurately judge the speed of an object moving directly towards or away from them? I call bullshit.

  95. 95
    baldheadeddork says:

    Couple of points –

    This has been practice across the country for decades. (Including the past four, John.) The only news in this story is that someone spent a lot of money to chase it up to the state supreme court and get a ruling. From a legal perspective allowing a cop to testify based on his training and practical experience is no different than allowing any other expert witness to testify. You can challenge that testimony if you have evidence that the witness is wrong, but if you don’t it’s your word against his, and he has experience and training on his side.

    This wasn’t a case of using an estimated speed for a stop and look. The defendant in this case was estimated to be going 79 mph in a 60 zone and he was driving notably faster than the surrounding traffic. If he was actually going 76 or 82 is irrelevant. Either one was breaking the law. If Ohio’s speed laws are structured like most states that I know of, writing him up for 19 over instead of 20 was erring on the side of a less severe penalty.

    An experienced traffic cop can be spooky accurate in calling speeds visually. Years ago I rode with a veteran patrol cop who was able to consistently call the speed within 2 mph of the radar reading. Watch several hundred cars a day and it doesn’t take long to pick up the skill.

  96. 96
    artem1s says:

    @Randy P:

    they have ROVs from more than one source on the website now but I missed the giant shears, alas.

  97. 97
    Lavocat says:

    This is nothing new, up here in New York. NYS Troopers have been allowed to do this for the past 20 years at least. Any other cop needs a radar gun.

    Radar gun? We don’t need no steenkin’ radar gun!

  98. 98
    mantis says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    I don’t understand your confusion. Neither the officer being tested nor the person recording his responses is aware of the actual speed of the test vehicle.

    Viola, double-blind.

    Ha. Ok, fine. I didn’t really consider the possibility of the person recording the responses being aware of the speed of the vehicle at a given point beforehand, and having some bias influence on the results. Still seems a stretch to me, but whatever.

  99. 99
    baldheadeddork says:

    @Brandon:

    Can you explain how it is possible, training or not, that a person can accurately judge the speed of an object moving directly towards or away from them? I call bullshit.

    The same way someone who watches a lot of baseball can tell the difference between a 93mph and a 98mph fastball without a radar gun. You learn how to judge speed of what you’re watching relative to a fixed object.

    It doesn’t matter, but the viewing angle is very rarely directly towards or away from them. There’s usually at least a little angle on what you’re seeing.

  100. 100
    Rosalita says:

    @MattR:

    I’ve had it happen in places where I can’t pull over… ! If I had a lane to change into, I would, to allow them to get out of my rear view mirror.

  101. 101
    Tonal Crow says:

    In addition to what John said, this decision will encourage other courts similarly to lower the threshold for what constitutes proof “beyond a reasonable doubt”. That imperils everyone.

    Please contribute to the ACLU to fight this and other attempts to gut our liberty.

  102. 102
    Fred Fnord says:

    I don’t understand what everyone is so up in arms about. The police radar devices I’ve seen (which admittedly are probably pretty old) don’t make any recording of their results. (Even if there were a hard copy, it’s easy enough to point it at some other car, and then pull you over instead, unless it takes a picture of the car at the same time it records its speed. And since they tend to keep a few tuning forks with them, which allow them to calibrate the radar detector, they can just use a tuning fork to get the desired speed, too.)

    This changes the status quo not at all: it only ever required the assertion of a police officer to say you were speeding. Now it just requires them to assert that they saw you speeding, as opposed to before, when they had to say that their radar saw you speeding.

    Not particularly good, I admit, but certainly not significantly different.

    —fred

  103. 103
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Brandon:

    There are no possible Constitutional claims? I don’t know much about ConLaw, but how about Due Process?

    The speeder has Due Process. It’s called a trial. The Ohio Supreme Court’s position is simply that the observations of a trained police officer, if believed, are sufficiently reliable to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That doesn’t violated Due Process. It’s stupid and betrays an authoritarian mindset, but it doesn’t violate Due Process.

    Theoretically, if someone could show that Ohio cops were abusing this to target minorities it would violate the Equal Protection clause, but that’s a whole other issue.

  104. 104
    Tonal Crow says:

    @baldheadeddork:

    The same way someone who watches a lot of baseball can tell the difference between a 93mph and a 98mph fastball without a radar gun.

    Please cite a peer-reviewed study that supports this assertion.

  105. 105
    rickstersherpa says:

    I will probably be called a facist for this, but before radar guns started to be common in the seventies, this was how speeding laws were enforced, by the individual police officer’s eye balling and pacing the car he believed to be speeding. The finder of fact then had to make a credibility decision between the officer and the citizen in a contested case, although of course for a variety of reasons, most cases were not contested.

    You have to give police officers discretion to enforce the laws. The problem is we now have to many laws that most people break at least one a day, especially our nutty drug laws. Regarding the problems with policing and police abuse I would start with demilitarizing the police, screening to keep certain people from becoming a police officers, improved trainining and professionalization, and recruiting police from a wide variety of racial, sexual, and ethnic backgrounds.

    And there will still be abuse and problems. But I have been endangered by excessive speeders that do want them to have some fear of getting caught.

  106. 106
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Please contribute to the ACLU to fight this and other attempts to gut our liberty.

    While I am a dues paying member of the ACLU, I would be astonished if it considered this case to be something it should get involved in. For the reasons I mentioned earlier, it’s not a constitutional issue. That’s why it can’t be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  107. 107
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Citizen Alan: Not quite. One due process argument is that such uncorroborated expert testimony cannot constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Ideally, this argument would hinge upon peer-reviewed studies of trained officers’ ability to evaluate speed under a variety of realistic conditions.

  108. 108
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Citizen Alan: What constitutes proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a core (federal) due process issue, and therefore this case can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  109. 109
    Citizen Alan says:

    @rickstersherpa:

    The problem is we now have to many laws that most people break at least one a day, especially our nutty drug laws.

    This. The real issue is not that it will be easier for cops to get traffic court convictions, but that cops will have wider latitude in pulling over “suspicious persons” and getting a pretext to violate their Fourth Amendment rights. That’s where the constitutional problems are.

  110. 110
    Steve says:

    @mantis:

    This isn’t new. All of the “now they can do this” comments are misguided. They already could do it. That’s why they’re trained in it. It just so happens that someone tried to challenge it in court, and, ultimately, failed. Nothing has really changed as a result of this ruling.

    Not enough people are getting this, so I’m going to repeat it. This was already the law in 11 of Ohio’s 12 judicial districts, and this decision from the Ohio Supreme Court simply says the holdout district was wrong. As others have pointed out, it’s also the law in many other states.

    Bear in mind, folks, real life is not like CSI, and you can be convicted of crimes a lot more serious than speeding without any forensic evidence whatsoever. In theory, you can be convicted of murder because the crazy druggie across the street says they saw you do it. A cop who’s been trained to estimate speeds isn’t infallible, but frankly he’s more reliable than most of the eyewitnesses who testify in criminal cases.

    Generally speaking, if a cop says they saw you commit a crime, you’re going to have some trouble dealing with it unless you can produce ironclad evidence to the contrary. We might feel more comfortable if you could never be convicted of murder or rape without DNA evidence, or if you could never be convicted of speeding without a radar gun printout, but that’s not how it typically works.

    Considering this “unprecedented decision” does nothing more than affirm the way things have worked for a long time, I think the people (including John Cole) who looked at this and immediately declared it would be the end of the world should think about whether they have a tendency to overreact.

  111. 111
    mnpundit says:

    Uh, Ohio SCOTUS.

    Only in Ohio.

  112. 112
    jonas says:

    There’s way more government tyranny at the state and local level than at the federal level. The fact that all those up-in-arms patriot teabagger types out there aren’t organizing rallies against this stuff makes it pretty clear which demographic groups benefit from the order imposed by the petty authoritarianism of your local sheriff and DAs. (*cough* well off, educated white people *cough*)

    If you’re not guilty, you have nothing to fear.

  113. 113
    Joel says:

    I’m not as concerned about this as you are, John.

    For one, police officers can pull people over for all sorts of reasons. During times where revenue generation is needed, they’re constantly running plates and looking for registration deficiencies, broken mirrors, and expired inspections. It’s been that way for a long time.

    I remember sitting next to a friend who got pulled over for DWB (driving while brown) in San Diego. The RMV had entered the wrong color for his vehicle and so the cop pulled us over. Eventually we pulled the VIN and the cop had nothing. He issued a warning for having an object hanging from the rearview. A lot of people don’t think about this, because they don’t live in areas where cops are ordered to do this shit (yet). With budget shortfalls hitting virtually every state, county, and municipality in America, that’s about to change.

    I always wondered why we can’t just make speeding regulations automatic. Just put the RF on vehicles and have moveable stations assess speed and issue tickets, like the traffic light cameras, only a bit more complicated. Of course, the political will just isn’t there.

    I also want to say that I hate fee-based revenue generation, the bread-and-butter of libertarian tax policy. It’s a load of shit.

  114. 114
    Tsulagi says:

    Damn glad that was Ohio and not my state. If our state supremes ruled similarly, the mayor and council in my little incorporated city (under 20k) where our house is would be in a starburst coma.

    Over the last three years or so as business tax and now property tax revenues have declined, our little slice of paradise has become one bigass speed trap. We don’t have many traffic lights as really no need, but we’re sprouting photo traffic cams on towers to tag those bastards doing 27 in a 25. Zero tolerance, bitch. Where there aren’t photo cams, you can expect our finest to be armed with radar guns.

    25 is now the top speed in our city. Anywhere near a school or public building it’s 20 with raised traffic fines doubled in those areas. It’s to protect the children, asshole. Yeah. Now, especially given the hills, you spend more time watching your speedometer than looking out the windshield.

  115. 115
    licensed to kill time says:

    Just got here and haven’t read comments yet, but have a funny story:

    Driving the Jersey Turnpike in a borrowed car, and the radar detector kept making odd noises (I had no experience w/those things). As I was leaning over the box and fiddling with it, trying to get it to shut up, a voice boomed out of a loudspeaker behind me “Why the hell do you got one a’ those if ya don’t know how to use it?”

    Looked in rearview mirror to see a couple of Jersey cops laughing their asses off as they pulled around us and sped away. Why they took pity on a couple of dweebs, I don’t know, but I was grateful.

  116. 116
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    One due process argument is that such uncorroborated expert testimony cannot constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Well, it’s an argument, but not one the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to entertain. Expert testimony is admissible in federal courts if it satisfies the requirements of Rule 702 and the Daubert standard:

    1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data

    2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and

    3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

    As long as the cop can recite the facts or data upon which he based his opinions, he can describe methods taught to him at the police academy (which I assume have sufficient reliability to satisfy Ohio courts at least), and that he reliably applied those methods to the facts of the case, his assessment that the suspect was speeding will be held admissible. There is no requirement that an expert be disinterested or that he personally have any specialized training or education beyond knowledge of the principles and methods about which he is testifying.

  117. 117
    Pooh says:

    not to get in the way of the daily two minutes here, but “you are de jure speeding” is a laughable reading of this holding.

    see the part about the “rational trier of fact?” That ain’t the cop, he still needs to convince someone, in a court of law. And my guess is that the chucklehead caught here was doing like 80 in a 55 and went by the cop so fast he didn’t have time to get the radar gun on him.

  118. 118
    Brandon says:

    @baldheadeddork: Thats a nice attempt, but it is totally contrary to the science. I suggest you read this. There is a ton more studies on depth, stereoscopic vision and motion that are very technical, that you can find through Google.

  119. 119
    goatchowder says:

    I’ve been convicted of speeding in California on a visual estimate from a cop. I fought the ticket and lost. It sucked.

    Then again, I also fought another ticket where the cop had paced me, and I *WON* that case, because the cop hadn’t had his speedometer calibrated in a while before the ticket.

    Also, because I gave no testimony, just cross-examined the cop. And his testimony contradicted what was written on the ticket. And I showed up in a suit and well-prepared, but the cop was a kid who showed up in kakhi’s and a golf shirt and a smart-ass sneer. And because the cop said “FUCK” in open court. That didn’t help the City of San Carlos’s case very well, I guess.

  120. 120
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    What constitutes proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a core (federal) due process issue, and therefore this case can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    What constitutes “beyond a reasonable doubt” is well-established:

    The proposition being presented by the prosecution must be proven to the extent that there is no “reasonable doubt” in the mind of a reasonable person that the defendant is guilty. There can still be a doubt, but only to the extent that it would not affect a “reasonable person’s” belief regarding whether or not the defendant is guilty.

    What you’re really complaining about is the fact that in most courts the fact-finder tends to give greater credence to the testimony of a police officer over that of a suspect. Which, IMO, represents a problem with human nature and mankind’s natural tendency to defer to authority figures, not a violation of constitutional rights. In any event, I’m pretty confident that the current U.S. Supreme Court is not going to interpret the Due Process Clause to mean that the testimony of a police officer is per se insufficient to support a guilty verdict.

  121. 121
    mantis says:

    @Brandon:

    Can you explain how it is possible, training or not, that a person can accurately judge the speed of an object moving directly towards or away from them? I call bullshit.

    Sure. You pick two points of reference, and know the distance between the two. You record the time it takes for the object to pass between the two points. Distance/Time = Speed

  122. 122
    hilzoy fangirl says:

    @Brandon:

    There definitely are possible constitutional objections to this decision, but from my reading of the court’s opinion the constitutional issues were not raised by the defendant’s lawyer. Usually if you don’t make an argument in a lower court, the higher court (i.e., the U.S. Supreme Court) will not consider that argument later.

  123. 123
    gex says:

    @scav: This whole thing just took so long because everyone knows you don’t run with scissors.

  124. 124
    ericblair says:

    I can’t get really worked up about this: it’s the same problem of (at least the widespread perception that) traffic policing is revenue generation governed by kangaroo courts with safety as a side issue. As someone suggested above, removing the revenue incentive by using fine income for the state university system would probably improve things considerably. Even if you tried to do this and failed, the howling and rending of garments would be something to behold.

  125. 125
    mr. whipple says:

    I got pulled over a few weeks ago coming into this little NY town. I was doing about 50 just after just entering a 35 mph residential/business zone.

    As soon as I saw the cop on the side of the road I pulled over, and he turned out to be the nicest one I ever encountered. He said, ‘thank you for stopping’ and I just laughed and said I didn’t think I could outrun him. After he checked out my papers he let me off with a warning, and when I passed him the next evening at the same spot we exchanged waves.

  126. 126
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Citizen Alan: The due process question is not whether the testimony is admissible. It is whether it can, of itself, constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

  127. 127
    MikeJ says:

    OT, but the chicken lady ain’t the worst candidate in NV, and isn’t even leading anymore:

    A Suffolk University poll has Tea Partier Sharron Angle leading Sue Lowden by 8 points in the Nevada Senate primary race. Lowden, the establishment GOP candidate, is now polling in third place.

    http://www.salon.com/news/poli.....index.html

    And Reid leads them all, but it’s still a long way to November.

  128. 128
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    In any event, I’m pretty confident that the current U.S. Supreme Court is not going to interpret the Due Process Clause to mean that the testimony of a police officer is per se insufficient to support a guilty verdict.

    That would indeed be a surprising outcome, and would be a far broader holding than is necessary to decide this case. The USSC could interpret the due process clause to mean that the expert testimony of a single police officer, on this issue and given the state of the science, is insufficient to constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t know whether this is likely. But it is a real federal question, contrary to what you said earlier.

  129. 129
    gex says:

    @Joel: Awesome. Not only can the future Bush-like presidents use their unitary executive powers to wiretap you, with an RF system they’ll be able to track the movements of your car over time.

    Automating these things means 1) Collecting the data necessary to know which vehicle was speeding at what time and where. 2) The data will be stored as evidence. 3) The data will be mined for some other unrelated reason. Who knows what it will be?

  130. 130
    mattt says:

    Sorry, but I don’t see the problem. I’ve worked with a couple of ex-cops, and they’ve told me they were trained to judge speed by things like how long it takes a vehicle to cover the distance between two freeway markers, and etc. It’s how they gave tickets before radar….and how they still estimate speed if they spot someone who’s obviously speeding (I’m passed by people doing 100mph on CA freeways every day) when not using the radar.

    Sure there’s a problem with bad cops using “estimated speed” to justify stops that are really driven by other factors, such as Driving While Black. Not a risk, a problem – you know it’s going to happen. But the basic problem there is bad cops lying, and cops can lie about anything. If you take away speed estimation, they’ll say dude changed lanes without signaling.

    For all their faults we do need cops to do their jobs, and when we restrict their ability to do their jobs it should be because fundamental rights are at stake. No-knock raids put innocent lives at risk, and other abuses of police power deprive people of liberty. Nobody dies or loses their liberty over a speeding ticket, only.

    Maybe my opinion is colored by my experience as a fireman/EMT. Even as a regular reader of Radley Balko and opponent of the creeping police state – after stepping on too many human brains scattered across the highway by reckless driving, my opinions on traffic enforcement have evolved.

  131. 131
    geg6 says:

    I can’t very excited about this. My state cop friends tell me that the stop watch/lines on the road method is the most reliable method to catch speeders (as long as the cop is well-trained in it) in the vast majority of cases because the technology of the radar guns is beyond most cops and they tend to fuck it up badly. There have been multiple lawsuits here in PA over the accuracy of the radar guns and the technological ability of local cops to use them and read them correctly. Current law here only allows the PA State Police to use them.

  132. 132
    Randy P says:

    @gex: It would be a hell of a revenue generator. Imagine a speeding citation being auto-generated for every single person on the New Jersey Turnpike every single day. Because I don’t think anybody has driven under the speed limit on that thing since the day it opened, except maybe for people entering and leaving rest stops.

  133. 133
    KG says:

    This isn’t much of a surprise. And it fits with the Basic Speed Law that most states have. Did you know you can be speeding while under the speed limit? Seriously, the basic speed limit says that if you are driving faster than what a reasonable person would believe to be a safe speed given the conditions, you can be cited for speeding. So, going 65 on the freeway in the rain, at night? Probably speeding. In fact, most of the posted speed limits are for “ideal conditions” think, noon, clear day, no or light traffic.

  134. 134
    mattt says:

    @KG: Good catch. And IMO, a perfectly valid exception. Posted speed limtis assume ideal conditions. If I’m trying to crawl home through a winter storm at night, over a road coverd in wet ice, and somebody comes around the curve in front of me doing the posted limit….well I’d hope a cop would have stopped him a mile up the road.

    Reminds me of a guy I worked with doing pizza delivery 25 years ago. He claimed that the exception to speed limits for “maximum speed allowed by conditions” meant that he could do 70 in a 35 late at night, in clear weather on empty roads. Various judges disagreed. Wonder whatever happened to him, after losing that job? He’s probably in the tea party now.

  135. 135
    Steve R. says:

    Sorry, but I don’t see the problem. I’ve worked with a couple of ex-cops, and they’ve told me they were trained to judge speed by things like how long it takes a vehicle to cover the distance between two freeway markers, and etc. It’s how they gave tickets before radar….and how they still estimate speed if they spot someone who’s obviously speeding (I’m passed by people doing 100mph on CA freeways every day) when not using the radar.

    I agree. I just don’t think this is a big deal and probably Mr. Jenney got what was coming to him.

  136. 136
    gnomedad says:

    @inkadu:

    Also, Canada geese spend plenty of time live in the lower 48.

    Fixed.
    /neighborhood-with-retention-pond resident

  137. 137
    Joel says:

    @gex: Here’s my thought:

    Own a cellphone?

    That battle’s already over.

  138. 138
    John B. says:

    @mantis:

    Ha. Ok, fine. I didn’t really consider the possibility of the person recording the responses being aware of the speed of the vehicle at a given point beforehand, and having some bias influence on the results. Still seems a stretch to me, but whatever.

    Oh, that’s easy. It doesn’t have to be intentional, but I’d say it’s almost inevitable for bias to creep in. If the recorder is, say, standing next to the test subject, and knows the correct response, it’s likely that they will react differently to incorrect answers. A little frown when the answer is wrong, a subconscious nod when the answer is right, or a sigh after a long string of errors, will give feedback to the subject. The subject will then adjust their estimates, probably just as subconsciously.

    Really, the recorder shouldn’t be able to make the same observations as the test subject, as they’ll also probably react to estimates that differ from their own internal estimates. You’ll wind up testing the abilities of the recorder, not the subject.

  139. 139
    mantis says:

    @John B.:

    Oh, I get it. I just wasn’t considering the possibility that the observer/recorder could know what speed the car was going beforehand. They would have to predetermine the speed of the car before the test, a possibility I hadn’t considered, or he would have to be holding a radar gun, which would obviously be a problem for testing accuracy if he’s standing next to the person being tested.

    In any case I didn’t really think bias would be a problem for a test that would take all of a few seconds to conduct.

  140. 140
    geg6 says:

    OT, but who would have guessed a year ago that ol’ Harry might be able to pull it off:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.....hp?ref=fpa

  141. 141
    JD Rhoades says:

    @mantis:

    I did a ride-along one time with a sheriff’s deputy who pulled over, turned the speed readout of his RADAR so only I could see it, and did “visual estimates” of passing traffic for about 15 minutes. The most he was ever off was 4 MPH. It was pretty uncanny. He told me there was a trick to it, but wouldn’t tell me what the trick was. He also said that at some law enforcement academies, like the Highway Patrol’s, you’re required to pass that test to graduate. So it can be done.

    All that said, if an officer ever came into court in my county and tried to rely on “visual estimates”, first question out of the judge’s mouth would be “I know you all have RADAR, why didn’t you use that?”

  142. 142
    twiffer says:

    @Joel: MD installed speeding cameras on I95. in addition to having them all over the fucking place. when i lived in the DC metro area, i typically walked or took the metro; still, whenever i actually drove it seemed like i wound up gettting mailed a ticket. took 3 before i learned to spot the warning lines on the road.

    i hate speeding tickets, but i hate automated ones even more. cameras don’t have discretion and don’t care about traffic speed. typically, a cop isn’t going to pull you over for going 72 in a 65. a camera will ticket you. you can’t talk your way out of a ticket from a camera either (such as the 80 in a 65 that a nice NY trooper knocked down to “no seatbelt” for me).

    cops can and often are assholes. hell, i’ve had my car searched cause my eyes “looked bloodshot”. but cops are also human and can sometimes be convinced you just need a warning. machines, not so much.

  143. 143
    soonergrunt says:

    @inkadu:

    Also, Canada geese spend plenty of time in the lower 48

    Just ask Chesley Sullenberger.

  144. 144
    JD Rhoades says:

    @pharniel:

    MIchigan did something interesting….State Police issuing speeding tickets have the fine go to the State for the Schools.

    Been that way in North Carolina for years and they’re handing out a shitload of tickets here.

  145. 145
    mr. whipple says:

    @geg6:

    OT, but who would have guessed a year ago that ol’ Harry might be able to pull it off:

    Well, not to be immodest, but…

    These early generic polls that showed the Dems getting clobbered are meaningless insofar as they say nothing about who the challenger will be. The GOP is being run by nuts right now that have no answers and don’t want to govern. Chicken woman being a prime example.

  146. 146
    Barry says:

    “but it serves as a convenient catch-all when you find that jackass swerving through traffic during rush hour because he wants to do the speed limit + 20 but all you yahoos decided to go to work and harsh his morning and now he can only go the speed limit – 5.”

    Reckless driving, or the local equivalent. Which I’ve been in a car pulled over for, twice (once it was a new driver’s fault; once my father was driving, and was simply coping with a turbulent traffic flow).

  147. 147
    James says:

    Strictly speaking (as a lawyer), the Cop’s testimony is merely “evidence” that can be accepted or dismissed by the “trier of fact” (Jury, or Judge if no jury). So all this means is that the eyeball speed estimate is “evidence” that’s acceptable at law “for whatever it’s worth.” If the judge believes it, it’s on him, not the statute.

    I don’t see any “here” here…

  148. 148
    fucen tarmal says:

    i worked in a bar that served food for two years, i am trained to spot hungry people, your honor, when i told officer friendly to “go have another donut” i was merely pointing out that he seemed hungry in my professional opinion. i meant no offense.

    further, my passenger is a yoga instructor, she trains people to become more flexible than they ever thought possible, it was because she saw nearly limitless potential in the officer that she mentioned an act of self-fornication, just her professional opinion, as well.

  149. 149
    burnspbesq says:

    And their smile is a thin disguise.

  150. 150
    licensed to kill time says:

    Thought by now you’d realize.

  151. 151
    Tonal Crow says:

    @James: The question is not whether the cop’s testimony of estimated speed is evidence (I think everyone agrees that it is), nor whether it’s admissible (which wasn’t an issue in the case), but whether it, alone, can constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt. http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/.....o-2420.pdf at 2. The Ohio Supreme Court held that it can. Absent a scientific consensus supporting the idea that an officer can accurately estimate speed in this manner (which the Court did not cite), I think this holding is insupportable.

    Our criminal justice system is filled with crackpot “expert” testimony. We need badly to clean it out, not to add more.

  152. 152
    kay says:

    This is off topic, but interesting:

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Supreme Court today struck down part of the Adam Walsh Act, saying it violated the separation-of-powers doctrine of the Ohio Constitution.

    The ruling means that sex offenders convicted before Jan. 1, 2008 who were put into more restrictive classifications after the new law took effect will go back to their court-ordered classifications under the old law.

    Under the previous law, called Megan’s Law, sex offenders were put into certain classifications by the judges who handled their cases. The Adam Walsh Act imposed new categories — Tier I, Tier II and Tier III — based only on the crimes for which the offenders were convicted. The new classifications called for stricter post-release registration and community notification requirements.

    The new law required the attorney general to notify offenders classified under the old law that they would be reclassified as of Jan. 1, 2008.

    The Supreme Court’s 5-1 decision, written by Justice Maureen O’Connor, said the Constitution prohibits the legislative and executive branches from passing or enforcing laws that encroach on the powers of the judicial branch. The reclassification, therefore, interfered with judicial powers, the ruling said.

  153. 153
    Steve says:

    @Tonal Crow: It’s not expert testimony. It’s fact testimony. He’s an eyewitness.

    Evidence concerning visual estimates of how fast someone was driving is admitted all the time, for whatever probative value it may hold. “Your Honor, it looked like the red car was going about 60 miles per hour when it caused the accident.” The Daubert test has nothing to do with such testimony.

    The reason the officer’s factual testimony is credible enough to sustain a conviction is because he has special training, but it’s still factual testimony.

    Honestly, considering there is no rule of law preventing you from being convicted of murder or rape based solely upon eyewitness testimony, I don’t know how anyone can seriously expect the Supreme Court would apply a stricter rule to speeding tickets.

  154. 154
    mantis says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Absent a scientific consensus supporting the idea that an officer can accurately estimate speed in this manner (which the Court did not cite), I think this holding is insupportable.

    Seriously? You want a scientific consensus around our ability to gauge the speed of a moving object on a flat surface? I’m pretty sure they figured that out in ancient Greece, if not earlier.

  155. 155
    fucen tarmal says:

    @kay:

    anything that strikes down “tougher” laws is a career killer. interesting.

    also they managed to stay away from the ex post facto element, so no points for bravery.

  156. 156
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    @mantis:

    Should every trained officer be required to perform “double blind tests” for the court when tickets are challenged?

    In a word, yes.

    SATSQ

  157. 157
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    @Steve:

    A cop who’s been trained to estimate speeds isn’t infallible, but frankly he’s more reliable than most of the eyewitnesses who testify in criminal cases.

    Really? Can you prove this?

    That’s all we’re asking for, that the arresting/ticketing officer be able to prove the ability s/he is claiming to have.

    Because even “trained” people make mistakes or have a bad day or claim more ability than they actually possess.

  158. 158
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Steve:

    @Tonal Crow: It’s not expert testimony. It’s fact testimony. He’s an eyewitness. Evidence concerning visual estimates of how fast someone was driving is admitted all the time….The Daubert test [requiring the judge to assess the scientific basis for expert testimony] has nothing to do with such testimony. The reason the officer’s factual testimony is credible enough to sustain a conviction is because he has special training, but it’s still factual testimony.

    This argument permits the officer to don an expert’s aura of competence for the purpose of persuading the trier of fact, then to slip on a nonexpert’s T-shirt when the defendant challenges his testimony’s scientific basis. I’d also note that the court repeatedly bolsters its opinion by referring to officers’ “training and experience” in this and similar cited cases, and that the dissenting justice (at 10) even directly calls the officer an “expert witness”.

    In my view, the officer is either a nonexpert (in which case his testimony on the technical topic of speed, while admissible, should not be allowed to constitute the *sole* basis of conviction) or he’s an expert (in which case his testimony should be inadmissible unless it is supported by peer-reviewed science).

    Honestly, considering there is no rule of law preventing you from being convicted of murder or rape based solely upon eyewitness testimony, I don’t know how anyone can seriously expect the Supreme Court would apply a stricter rule to speeding tickets.

    The question is more subtle than this. See above.

  159. 159
    Tonal Crow says:

    @mantis: Humbug. This is not a question about geometry on ideal surfaces, but of the accuracy of human perception under the huge variety of conditions under which police officers operate.

    It’s about time we injected some real science into criminal forensics, and this is as a good a place to start as any.

  160. 160
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    @KG:

    This isn’t much of a surprise. And it fits with the Basic Speed Law that most states have. Did you know you can be speeding while under the speed limit? Seriously, the basic speed limit says that if you are driving faster than what a reasonable person would believe to be a safe speed given the conditions, you can be cited for speeding. So, going 65 on the freeway in the rain, at night? Probably speeding. In fact, most of the posted speed limits are for “ideal conditions” think, noon, clear day, no or light traffic.

    Which makes the “reasonable speed” completely arbitrary.

    I was traveling in a blizzard going 15 mph when I tapped the brakes.

    The car ended up off the side of the road because the snow and ice.

    While a tow truck was pulling my car back onto the road a cop stopped by.

    She was going to give me a ticket for “going too fast for conditions” when I asked her, “O.K., tell me what the ‘reasonable’ speed for travel is that won’t get me a ticket.”

    She fumed for a minute or so and just stomped off.

    The law has specific conditions that constitute what is or is not legal because arbitrary standards are both impossible to enforce and tyrannical.

  161. 161
    Joel says:

    @twiffer: here’s the thing, if people know that discretion isn’t allowed, they’re going to obey the posted speed limit. if that’s the purpose of limits, then why not use them?

  162. 162
    JL says:

    No one is fit to be a judge in this country who hasn’t been rousted by a King Shit cop.

  163. 163
    Steve says:

    @Dr. Morpheus: You’re allowed to cross-examine the cop to your heart’s content regarding his powers of observation and his ability to correctly estimate vehicle speed. If he claims he passed some certification where he has to correctly predict the speed of moving vehicles within 5 mph, you can ask him all the questions you want about that.

    At the end of the day, the judge decides whether you’ve refuted his testimony or not with all that cross-examination. No one is stopping you from raising all these points, but that doesn’t mean the judge has to agree with you, any more than the judge has to credit the cop’s testimony. This is the normal way the process works.

  164. 164
  165. 165
    Steve says:

    @Tonal Crow: Speed is not a “technical topic” no matter how badly you want it to be. Laypersons testify regarding the speed of vehicles every single day.

    Whenever an eyewitness testifies, both sides get to argue and cross-examine on the question of whether the witness’ powers of observation are generally accurate or inaccurate. I’m not aware of any case law holding that Daubert applies to eyewitness testimony. Just as you can cross-examine an eyewitness by demonstrating that they can’t read an eye chart at 20 paces, the party presenting the eyewitness is allowed to demonstrate that the witness has a particular aptitude for accurate observation. If you know of case law to the contrary, I’d love to see it, but otherwise I think you’re just presenting the law as you feel it ought to be.

  166. 166
    mantis says:

    @Dr. Morpheus:

    In a word, yes.

    Care to justify your stance? Or is that too stupid a question?

    @Tonal Crow:

    Humbug. This is not a question about geometry on ideal surfaces, but of the accuracy of human perception under the huge variety of conditions under which police officers operate.

    I’m pretty sure all speeding tickets are issued on roads. You know, the things with speed limits.

    It’s about time we injected some real science into criminal forensics, and this is as a good a place to start as any.

    I can think of some better places to start.

  167. 167
    mantis says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    In my view, the officer is either a nonexpert (in which case his testimony on the technical topic of speed, while admissible, should not be allowed to constitute the sole basis of conviction)

    Technical topic of speed? Let’s take this a bit further, shall we?

    A homicide occurs on the street in front of your house. You are awakened by the gunshot. You look out the window to see a man standing over a body, holding a gun. You are called to give eyewitness testimony at trial.

    How can your testimony be trusted? How did you know you were “awake” and not asleep and dreaming at the time? Are you an expert on sleep, consciousness, and other neurological functions? If not, how can the judge or jury know that you were in fact awake at the time if you aren’t such an expert?

    Could it be because sleep in this example is not a technical topic requiring special expertise, supported by peer-reviewed science, because you are asleep and awake every damned day?

    Could it be that the speed of moving vehicles on public roadways is not a technical topic requiring special expertise, supported by peer-reviewed science, because traffic cops watch speeding cars every damned day?

  168. 168
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Steve: I am, of course, arguing about what I think the law should be, not necessarily what it is.

    Speed is a topic about which courts allow both lay and expert witnesses to testify. When an lay witness testifies about it, no scientific basis is required. When an expert witness testifies about it in that capacity, I argue that she should be required to provide a scientific basis for her opinion. The reason is that expert witnesses come with a patina of authority. That authority’s influence should not be allowed to extend beyond her area of special competence, lest the trier of fact give her lay testimony excessive weight.

    BTW, you didn’t address the point about the dissenter referring to the officer as an “expert witness”.

  169. 169
    Pooh says:

    @James:

    this was the point I was trying to make.

  170. 170
    Tonal Crow says:

    @mantis: We cannot function if we don’t accept some axioms, like that a lay witness of ordinary abilities is competent to testify about what she directly perceives.

    The problem with the officer’s testimony on speed is that it’s being given a dual nature: as lay testimony for purposes of scientific foundation, but as expert testimony for purposes of credibility. That makes it more difficult for the defendant to challenge by shifting the burden from the officer (to affirmatively show that the ability to *accurately estimate speeds down to a few percent* he claims actually exists, and that he possesses it) to the defendant (to show that the officer doesn’t possess that ability). Since the claimed ability bears on the only fact in question (whether the driver was speeding), it is really an element of the case, and must thus, I argue, be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s for the state to prove, not for the defendant to disprove.

    This burden-shifting underlies a host of criminal forensics fiascos.

  171. 171
    Pooh says:

    Also, the “outrage” over this opinion illustrates the problem many laypeople have in interpreting legal holdings.

    Given the legal question at issue, here’s what the court found – credible testimony from a trained officer can be sufficient to support a finding that the defendant was speeding. They DID NOT rule that you are guilty of speeding just because the officer said so.

    The appellate court is NOT ruling on the facts of the case (beyond finding that the testimony of the officer in question met some minimum standards of credibility), only saying that the ultimate arbiter of fact (generally speaking, the trial court, whether judge or jury) was within its discretion in crediting the testimony of the cop over that of the defendant.

    These may seem like splitting hairs, but the devil is wholly within the details.

  172. 172
    Pooh says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    you may have a point regarding forensic evidence. This is not “forensic evidence”. Basing the speed estimate on a skid mark left on the road, that would be forensic evidence. This is a simple combination of observation and algebra.

  173. 173
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Pooh: Whether the evidence is observational or forensic is irrelevant to its dual lay/expert nature, and to the issue that the decision transforms the state’s burden of proof (of the officer’s accuracy) into the defendant’s burden of disproof.

    I have to ask: why all the objections to having officers prove that they have the abilities they claim?

  174. 174
    Steve says:

    @Tonal Crow: I don’t think any of us are objecting to letting you cross-examine the officer all you like, if you think you can establish that this certification isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I just don’t think you have to satisfy Daubert.

    I looked at the dissent as you requested, and the reference to the officer as an “expert witness” doesn’t have any context and frankly it doesn’t make much sense to me. Obviously you don’t have to be an expert to testify as to how fast you thought a car was going since lay witnesses do it all the time. But I don’t know of any authority that an eyewitness who claims to be a particularly savvy observer is thereby converted into an expert witness who has to satisfy the Daubert standard.

  175. 175
    Bob says:

    @hilzoy fangirl: People with Michigan plates have known for a long time that it’s risky to drive through Ohio.

  176. 176
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Steve: Some cursory research reveals an FRE 701 case holding that “a person may testify as a lay witness only if his opinions or inferences do not require any specialized knowledge and could be reached by any ordinary person.” Doddy, 101 F.3d 448 (5th Cir. 1996). But the Ohio Supreme Court repeatedly refers to the officer’s special training and expertise at speed estimation, which surely implies that his accuracy is considerably beyond that of an ordinary person.

    What I’m objecting to here is the armadillo that insists on wandering down the center of the road, claiming on the one hand that the officer is a lay witness for Daubert purposes because lay witnesses testify about speed all the time, and on the other hand that he’s specially qualified to estimate speed, and thus so specially credible on this issue that his testimony can, of itself, prove speeding beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Here’s a interesting question: as a matter of law, can a bare estimate of speed (e.g., “He was going 70”) by an undisputed lay witness, of itself and without additional testimony, prove speeding beyond a reasonable doubt? If not, the cop is surely an expert.

  177. 177
    Bill Murray says:

    @mantis: of course that does not work when the object is moving directly toward or away from you. You need probably 10 or 20 degrees of angle in the view to accurately estimate speed in that fashion and you need to know the angle and the distance away from you at least one of the markers is.

  178. 178
    Honus says:

    @pharniel: and I wouldn’t mind paying the fines at all in that case.

  179. 179
    JohnR says:

    @mantis:
    1. I wasn’t asking if you were. sorry. just wondering if any of those points are addressed anywhere. I presume that some, at least, of the officers are quite competent at estimating speed by eye, certainly using the various tricks of the trade. Are all of them? It’s not clear – it appears to say that any officer who meets those stated conditions may be treated as accurate, whether he estimates using stationary objects or simply has a gut feeling. Is there a range of abilities and skills? Are some officers less accurate? How inaccurate can you be and still be treated as accurate? Is this acceptable? (well, obviously it is now). Does it matter? As to the “it’s been this way for ever and ever” comments, has it been appealed to a state SC before now? Probably not important, but that does seem to be an added legal touch. I wouldn’t assume that an officer has an ulterior motive to be arbitrary in his assessments; it’s very likely that most aren’t. This formalizes a situation where the officer has even more discretion and authority. He may have had it in practice before, but now he has it with no apparent wiggle room for anyone to challenge unless he’s prepared to go to the very top (assuming that they would take the case). I suppose in one sense it’s a good thing that the matter has now been settled, but it seems to me that the weight of the law has again swung strongly towards those who already have the advantage, and against the people who are subject to the laws (which seem to be enforced increasingly arbitrarily and enthusiastically). I’m not anti-cop; where I live, we could use more, since most of us seem unwilling to do the right thing except in fear of punishment. Still, there seems more and more to be a formal rule, rather than a tacit understanding, that the cop is always correct. That doesn’t seem to leave much room for judgement and restraint, while giving the Arpaios of this world plenty more of the tent to move into. Oh, well; only a few people every year die from being tasered, and the children who get tasered undoubtedly deserve it. As long as it isn’t me, I suppose it’s all right.

  180. 180
    Dan says:

    really not that troubled by this. Cops testimony alone is enough to convict on things much much more serious than speeding every single day. Every drunk driving case where no breathalyzer is taken is built entirely on police testimony.

    For eons we have lived with a criminal justice system that declares that testimony is evidence, and if that testimony is found to be credible and sufficient the government can meet its burden by testimony alone.

    Although I love that John regularly decries the erosion of Miranda in our country I really think he is missing the ball on this one……

  181. 181
    Dan says:

    really not that troubled by this. Cops testimony alone is enough to convict on things much much more serious than speeding every single day. Every drunk driving case where no breathalyzer is taken is built entirely on police testimony.

    For eons we have lived with a criminal justice system that declares that testimony is evidence, and if that testimony is found to be credible and sufficient the government can meet its burden by testimony alone.

    Although I love that John regularly decries the erosion of Miranda in our country I really think he is missing the ball on this one……

  182. 182
    John Bird says:

    It’s not like checkpoints should have been ruled Constitutional either.

    We have a weird way of viewing police in America. We don’t give them respect; we give them a privileged position when it comes to the truth. As cliched as it is, it’s not like that in most other democratic countries.

    I’m actually tempted to mention that I have a “good cop” in my family to justify the observation that individual members of police forces, as well as entire law enforcement departments, are capable of being vindictive, corrupt, or wrong, like all other public servants and private actors, and that they need to be kept in check by a citizenry informed of the rights that police won’t tell you about.

    I guess that’s how I know I’m in America.

  183. 183
    John Bird says:

    And for all the legal eagles above who complain that the untrained don’t understand holdings, I’d like to point out that legal training includes years of suspension of disbelief regarding the way that decisions are actually interpreted by lower courts and how they affect the practice of our bloated enforcement agencies.

    Do you really think this WON’T translate into a wrongheaded deference to untrained testimony by cops? That’s ALREADY how the system works, and this will bolster it until it’s overturned.

    Can’t get enough CLS, I think. If you didn’t get it in school, get it now.

  184. 184
    Tungsten Man says:

    I’m struck by how often lawyers behave exactly like derivatives traders when it comes to these decisions. “Welp, this is more of the same. That’s How Things Are. I’m not worried.”

    The law is politics, and we always catch up to that fact eventually. How shocking! we said when it was revealed that marijuana possession charges disproportionately punish racial minorities at all points of the criminal justice system. But, of course, that’s not shocking at all, and it shocked no one with a brain in their head, least of all any attorney anywhere.

    However, black “laypeople” could talk confidently about the racism of the War on Drugs years ago while keeping an eye out for unmarked cars. Lawyers who weren’t “unhinged radicals” had to look at their classmates and amphetamine-scan some briefs by the professor before they tentatively began to speak out about a problem that was evident from the get-go.

    Same with this: strict Daubert standard or not in the holding, the effect will be Tonal Crow’s observation about double standards. Cops will be allowed to slide all over the rules of evidence like a day-old California roll with this decision (as though they couldn’t before). Should that be the way it’s read? No. But it will be, and you’re deluded if you substitute your academic reading for the political climate of America.

    A few lawyers here could probably stand to listen to the mouths of babes, if they can hear the voice of the citizenry over the sound of their hands contacting their own backs at supersonic speed.

  185. 185
    Older says:

    @Joel: Oh, I dunno. A lot of cell phones are on “family” plans. I know all of the phones on our plan show my name on caller ID systems. If someone is tracking one of us, our habit of using and/or answering each other’s phones is going to confuse the issue. And I’m pretty sure we are under no obligation to say (for instance in court) who was using which phone when. It could easily be construed as self-incrimination.

  186. 186
    George says:

    They trailed behind you and paced you at the same speed you were going, some police will still do that but they will usually give you a 5 mph break when they write the ticket

  187. 187

    […] reports that this is bad news for “speeders across the state.” Wrong. As John Cole observes at Balloon Juice, “This ruling doesn’t effect just speeders, it effects everyone, because […]

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