Man fights the law and the law ... lost

Marvin Thorp just wanted to make a point. Little did he think he would get out of his speeding ticket. Thorp, 61, of Fayette, got a speeding ticket in Wakeman on his way home from visiting his in-laws in Middleburg Heights on March 20.
bigjoe
May 6, 2011

 

Marvin Thorp just wanted to make a point. Little did he think he would get out of his speeding ticket.

Thorp, 61, of Fayette, got a speeding ticket in Wakeman on his way home from visiting his in-laws in Middleburg Heights on March 20.

He went to Norwalk Municipal Court April 14, contesting he was pulled over in an unmarked car. Judge John Ridge continued the case until Thursday, when he agreed with Thorp, saying the "officer is not competent to testify."

So just like that, faster than Thorp was driving through Wakeman, Ridge ruled him not guilty.

Thorp explained why he pursued the case instead of just paying the fine.

"I am trying to make a point and I don't think it is right the people who are hired to 'protect and serve' should do this," Thorp said before the he went to court Thursday. "Three times since then I have been back through Wakeman and each time the police have had people pulled over.

"Why don't they have better signs put up. Protect me. Serve me. I swear I am profiled because I have a nice car. When they pulled me over I was civil. They know they won't have trouble from me. That's all my speculation and there is no way I can prove that."

Thorp had pictures of the police car, which were included in Wakeman Solicitor Randal Strickler's briefings.

It is white with a light bar and no markings on the doors. It says "police" on the trunk and the department's Web site on the back bumper. "It's (the police markings on the trunk) not distinctive and he had it parked so you couldn't read it anyway," Thorp said. "The light bar looks like a car-top carrier until it is lit."

There is a Wakeman police shield on the front quarter panels and Emergency 911 stickers on the back quarter panels.

Thorp, a retired teacher, makes the trip often.

"My mother- and father-in-law who are in their 80s live in Middleburg Heights and they are in failing health," he said. "I refuse to use the turnpike if I can help it because they cut a corner of my grandfather's farm, took it, eminent domain, and told him one day your grandchildren will drive on this free. In 1991 they did pay off the loan but they put in on the ballot and the people voted to keep it a paid road.

"The people who put the wear and tear on it, the ones who drive coast to coast, should pay but the ones like us (from Ohio) who paid for it (originally) should drive it for free."

Thorp talked about the day he got his ticket.

"Driving home, I'm heading west on 20 and as soon as I get to the town limits it changes from 55 to 35," he said. "There is a warning sign but I am heading into the sun and could not see. Coming from the west to the east it goes from 55 to 45 to 35.

"He took the speed as soon as I got into the town limits. A speedtrap is a speedtrap is a speedtrap. The car is not marked properly."

Thorp cited Revised Code 4549.13, which states a police car shall be marked "in some distinctive manner or color."

"White is not a color -- it is a neutral. I am an art teacher," Thorp said. "Because of that, the next section of the revised code says if there is an officer driving that car he is "incompetent to testify if the judge rules that car is not marked properly."

Thorp defended himself, and, according to the old saying, "I am an idiot," he said with a laugh.

(He also said his wife called him an idiot for fighting the ticket).

"I was going a safe and reasonable speed," he said. "They don't set up speed limits to catch people, but to protect people."

Does he have any law experience?

"I love Judge Judy," he said. "I didn't go to law school. My little brief I sent in was one page. The brief I got from him (Strickler) has seven pictures taken by the chief of police and six pages. He also has an affidavit from the chief of police."

Wakeman Police Chief Tim Hunker said Wakeman has been writing tickets from the same car for two years.

"We marked the vehicle, we thought, in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code," Hunker said. "Ours is a minimum marked car. According to the court we are not competent, so we are going to make changes. We write more tickets with the car with full details.

"We will do what it takes to be in compliance with the court. We are going to make it right with the court tomorrow morning."

Thorp contended Wakeman is a speedtrap. Is it?

"Define a speedtrap," Hunker said. "Do we make you speed when you come through town? No. We have dropped considerably the number of tickets we have written since the late 90s and early 2000s. This minimal marked car has not changed anything.

"We only write tickets on about half of our stops," he added. "I think that is a pretty good percentage."

Comments

joedirt

Protect and Serve??? they sure serve....tickets that is.....protect??? kind of hard to protect when they mainly do traffic and write tickets. Need a cop? dont call... just go to bp or the church... really though, this man was speeding and deserved a ticket..

Richard Russell

Plymouth had a reputation for years as a "speed trap." I never agreed with that definition: the signs were clearly visible at the corporation limits and most of the tickets were for people going more than 5 MPH over the speed limit (I think the highest I ever say was 55 in a 25, which would have been downtown). I was an elected township official near there and chose to obey the speed limits instead of suffering the public wrath of being a scofflaw. But think of the outcry from the public if one speeder had been going thru town and hit a child in the street -- the police would have been accused of NOT doing their job. . I knew one person that was ticketed for speeding in Plymouth and decided to drive 10 MPH thru town the next time -- then got stopped for driving excessively slow. It was a game to them, but you can bet the cops were watching for their car every time they drove thru town from then on. . If Mr. Thorpe was speeding (and it sounds like he knows he was), I don't care if the cops were peddling after him on an unmarked tricycle, he's guilty. I think they let this guy off on the technicality just to get rid of him -- he was obviously a pain in the neck that wasn't going to let it rest. Letting him off saved everyone alot of consternation -- and the taxpayers alot of money. But the NEXT time they see his car going thru town, well ... . Having said all that, I'll probably get pulled over in Monroeville on the way home tonight for doing 36 in a 35 zone ... or for "weaving".

Thumper

First off, Good for Judge Ridge for following the law. That is the correct way a job is done.
Second, As stated, the police chief is getting their car up to correct standards. Getting it correct is how it should be done.
Third, Good for Mr. Thorpe that he actually knows the law.
Many other tickets should be contested too but, most people do not take or have the time to do this. Just because a police officer give's you a ticket does not mean he is correct in doing so. The officer is not the law, he is an enforcer of law. Sometimes the officer just gets it wrong.

DieselSmoke

I have been in a lot of States that have UNMARKED cruisers sitting along side the road waiting to catch a speeding vehicle. Some even hide behind bridge pillars so they can not be seen until you are right beside or past them and see them in your mirror. I think if everyone stood up like Mr. Thorp did there might not be any UNMARKED cruisers aloud to be SPEED TRAPS! WTG Mr. Thorp! I can understand if it was for a drug bust or something in that area. But as a speed trap......... NO

KURTje

Attn. RAISED by NFC. Me-thinks bigwinner's prose is what not matters not his spelling. "Little tongue in cheek." Savvy? Me-thinks also pdb= poor dumb *******. (The spelling is moot)

RAISEDbyNFC

Gawd, you've got to be his brother! I see you both went to the same school. (Or dropped out of the same school -Hahahhaha) "is what not matters not his spelling". Savvy? More like Sorry.

har75ly1

Yep ur right Waketucky is a speed trap, they get all these newbies who want to make a name for themselves....They sit in the dark and wait for you to get half way up the road then chase after you like you just robbed the bank....What a joke.....

firelands1969

? how fast was he going? 5 over, I do that. 10+ over well I deserve a ticket. And so does anyone else! BOTTOM LINE!

Thumper

It really does not matter how fast he was going in this case. He would have recieved a ticket if the police car was of correct marking. The car was illegal.
All laws are supposed to work together. Many factors have to be in place to make sure everybody, including law enforcement, follow the laws. If any of these laws are not correct or followed, how can the courts find him guilty?
Many guilty offenders have been let off the hook on some of the smallest legal technicalities, even for murder.

Thank God that is the way laws and courts are supposed to work. Otherwise, the police state we would live in would be pure he#%.

firelands1969

Yes we should all break the law then find technicalities to get us all off, what a country. If it's so bad try another,
orc 4549.13 Marking and equipment for motor vehicle used by traffic enforcement officers. Any motor vehicle used by a member of the state highway patrol or by any other peace officer, while said officer is on duty for the exclusive or main purpose of enforcing the motor vehicle or traffic laws of this state.
Last I knew police officers weren't exclusive to traffic enforement? So next time you need a police officer for anything other than a traffic infraction don't call them cause there car is not properly marked.

Thumper

WOW.... Who said this country was so bad? I just happen to appreciate this country. You must have something against this country and the laws we live by. Nobody said we should try to find legal technicalities and try to beat the system...Just so happens there are a few in law enforcement that break laws too. Judge Ridge is making sure Wakeman P.D. follows it. You better count your blessings that the courts have to follow ALL laws, not just half because it does not go your way.

Thumper

By the way...Here is the other half of law you missed that needs to be in compliance.

Any motor vehicle used by a member of the state highway patrol or by any other peace officer, while said officer is on duty for the exclusive or main purpose of enforcing the motor vehicle or traffic laws of this state, provided the offense is punishable as a misdemeanor, shall be marked in some distinctive manner or color and shall be equipped with, but need not necessarily have in operation at all times, at least one flashing, oscillating, or rotating colored light mounted outside on top of the vehicle. The superintendent of the state highway patrol shall specify what constitutes such a distinctive marking or color for the state highway patrol.

firelands1969

So your saying they only use that car for traffic violations? I'm sure they do more than that with this car! Show me that traffic is all they use this vehicle for and I could agree. But the fact is it is used for more than traffic, there for per this orc it is legal. But we are not the judge so if he wants to let people off who break the law thats up to him. The police can only try and do there job and we should applaud them.

RUMRDD

Your a GD hero! Next time save us the speech and just tell Joe your going to Disney World.

buzzard

why does the wakeman p.d. want to issue so many speeding tickets when on an almost DAILY basis one can and does observe their finest in uniform traveling at an alarming high rate of speed on his way back from narcwalk in the very same almost unmarked car in question... when not in pursuit or going to an emergency do they have the right to speed? what hypocrites many of our crooked cops are. And why in the day of high tech communication do they have to travel to narcwalk for anyhow? Can the info that is being delivered or received be done on a less costly measure with gas at todays prices?come on tim ... do the right thing... save money and keep your happy butt in wakeman... maybe in the time your in narcwalk you could have pulled 3 or 4 speeders over ... sayin

buzzard

why does the wakeman p.d. want to issue so many speeding tickets when on an almost DAILY basis one can and does observe their finest in uniform traveling at an alarming high rate of speed on his way back from narcwalk in the very same almost unmarked car in question... when not in pursuit or going to an emergency do they have the right to speed? what hypocrites many of our crooked cops are. And why in the day of high tech communication do they have to travel to narcwalk for anyhow? Can the info that is being delivered or received be done on a less costly measure with gas at todays prices?come on tim ... do the right thing... save money and keep your happy butt in wakeman... maybe in the time your in narcwalk you could have pulled 3 or 4 speeders over ... sayin

goldie4me

You are profiled because you have a nice car? This is an example of how far some will reach for a reason to be a victim. Get over yourself.

Sneekypete

I hope everyone who has received a citation in the last two years from a Wakemsn Police Officer who was driving this illegally marked car demands their money back and their driving record cleared of the points. As for the officers in the late 1990's and early 2000's they enforced the speed limits in a properly marked police car. They didn't need to resort to a "minimumly marked" police car. Maybe they were better trained...just saying...

Opleeze

That era was before ODOT's revision of their speed limits and signage through the village. When ODOT increased the limits and implemented the graduated reductions from 55 to 45 to 35 (instead of 25), they lost their money making zones.

Snoozer

Good job teacher! Many people in this country (county) get violated by our justice system. If the "LAW" breaks the "LAW" then where is the LAW? I recently read a story about a man who served 21 yrs of his life behind bars for a crime he didn"t commit. He was awarded millions of dollars but money won"t buy back the life he lost!
What needs to be done is, if a person gets sent to prison for a crime they didn"t commit and released the the judge and prosecutor should have to serve the same time the innocent person did.
now that would be justice for all!

FST

Come on now Snoozer.....if that happened there wouldn`t be anybody wanting to be a judge or lawyer because they would most likely get sent to prison for wrongly convicting somebody or for NOT convicting anybody at all. LOL I do believe some of our laws are backwards though and many don`t even make sense at all. Like having alcohol legal and marijuana not legal. Everybody knows that alcohol does more damage to our society in just one year than marijuana ever has.They say ignorance of the law is no excuse,but a person has to go to collage for many years just to understand what many of our laws mean.

RUMRDD

@Snoozer : Funny how you fail to add the Jury into the equation. The government cannot take the liberty from any citizen for the length of time you speak of without the permission of a jury of that person's peers. Our current system was born from tyrany, when a judge imprissioned a jury for a verdict he did not like. The jury system is the last proof the average person is stronger than the government itself. I am sure you mean well, but it appears you just type the first thing that comes to mind. The jury would bear the same responsibility as the judge and prosecutor. Wanna sit on a jury then? What about the defense attorney who was so inept, he couldn't get an innocent man off on a charge for a crime he didn't commit? Law enforcement for having the audacity to accuse the subject in the first place? The list can go on and on until the only safe perople are those who cower in their homes and take no responsibility for anything.....We'll call it Snoozerville.

bet u would lik...

good wakeman cops pull every one over an im just plan sick of it they hide where u cant see them and if u r a new car they never seen before u better bet you r going to get pulled over..wakeman has nothing better to do with there time then pull people over i don't remember witch officer it was but i was in the gas station on 4 20 and the officer asked the attended do u know what today is ? She said no he then replied " its 4 20, time to pull over the smokers" just goes to show they r out to pull over every one they suck.....

pillowpants

So basically he's saying he learned nothing and will continue to drive at a speed he thinks is reasonable and safe. He said nothing about traveling within the confins of the posted speed limit like everyone else. One thing he needs to remember is, like we tell our teens, driving is a privilege in this state. When you sign for your license to drive on the roadways you sign an agreement that you'll obey the traffic laws and law enforcement, etc. And he keeps talking about ODOT stating safe and reasonable....so with his theory when ODOT has a crew working out on RT 71 he can drive 65-75mph by them in a construction zone? He isn't hurting anyone and that is usually the normal speed for that route. Riiiight. He also stated they should do what they're supposed to do "which is to serve and protect". Law enforcement's main purpose is just that. Law Enforcement. That's what "taxpaying" citizens pay them to do. And doing that they are serving and protecting. He is one of these guys who want them to enforce the law as long as it's not enforced on him. He also states they don't have to ticket him everytime. If he does something wrong "let me know" but if "I continue to do something wrong, then pinch me" He already said he has received tickets in the past when he was a teacher but he didn't have time to fight them. So obviously he is continuing to do "something wrong" and not learning from it. So by his own admission he needs "pinched".

WakemanFam

I think its great the WPD monitors traffic while in between reports/calls, better than them playing solitare in the office. I think WPD does a fine job, would like to see blotter info though. If you dont like speeding tickets, dont speed. If you get one and you dont feel you deserve it, fight it. The system is working as inteded it seems.

lauren21

Good for him, he was very brave to make such a statement but perhaps this will make the other drivers falling in this speed trap to do the same and protect their rights. I was given a wrongful parking ticket in New York just because the police officer noticed my car wasn't local thought he could get me. I talked to a New York traffic attorney right after the incident and won without much hassle.

Pages