Ticketed for Taking the Lane on Perrysville Ave.

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jonawebb
Participant
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Great news. Congrats, I think your best bet is to fight it at the DM level without a lawyer. Contacting the chief was a good idea.


jonawebb
Participant
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One other thing I thought of on my ride in this morning–you might want to talk with a lawyer before your hearing, just to run through what you want to present. I would expect to pay for this.


Mick
Participant
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@jim She reassured me that from her perspective, I was abiding by the law. However, once a citation is issued, they can’t un-issue it.

She urged me to see this through to court so I could explain the situation

If you got something to that effect in writing or email from her, you could show the magistrate.

If you chose to go the lawyer route, please take the time to set something up so people here can help pay.

No question that pursuing something like this is taking one for the team. The time an money spent avoiding paying a fine will far exceed the level of the fine.

DO IT FOR GIPPER!


Jim
Member
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Sorry for not keeping everyone updated here. The court date for this is tomorrow (Wednesday) at 8:30am. I’ll be representing myself for the first-go-round. Hopefully, it won’t go any further than this.

I’ll let you all know how it goes. Thanks again for everyone’s feedback and advice!


RustyRed
Member
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Good luck. :)


Mikhail
Member
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Will hold fingers crossed.


J Z
Participant
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bon chance.


Jim
Member
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Thanks for the well wishes, unfortunately things didn’t go my way.

After presenting my case, the judge (Jeffrey Manning) basically said I “shouldn’t have been in the road at night anyway” and found me guilty. I don’t even know where to start with his statement, which blatantly disregards the laws put in place to give cyclists equal rights to the roads.

It all happened so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to put in a second word or question the ruling.

I also screwed up a little. I printed out Chapter 35 of Title 75, and section 3301 C, as well as the relevant sections of the PA DOT Driver’s Manual and Bicycle Driver’s Manual, and even the a screen shot of my Strava ride details from that night showing that I was traveling 25.9 mph. I even had 3 copies of everything!

But that doesn’t help when you leave it on the kitchen table :(

Honestly, I don’t think even having all that documentation would have made even a slight difference. It seemed like Judge Manning’s mind was made up before I even got in front of him.

Maybe if I had hired an attorney at this first stage it would have gone differently, but I was taking a calculated risk and figured I had better chances of success.

I’m still thinking about whether or not I will appeal. It’s not so much an issue of the costs. I’ve really just lost faith in this justice system. If I appeal and hire an attorney, then the officer doesn’t show up and the case gets thrown out, then I’m out the money and there’s no case to be used as precedence for future cases. It seems that this is the game all along, and that law enforcement and the judicial system is built to stifle justice in cases like this. Even if you have the funds and time to fight, at best you get your case dismissed and the police get to continue pulling cyclists over regardless of the law.

But maybe I’m just being dramatic. Fresh wounds and all.


paulheckbert
Participant
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Jeffrey Manning’s judgment in your case sucks. If you need some money for a legal defense fund, share a paypal account or something and I would contribute.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I guess I’m next, then. I go through there three or four times a week, including in the dark.


Vannevar
Participant
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I wonder if you might consider asking Bike Pgh to work this. It could be, that if the Mayor’s Bike-Ped coordinator had a word with the PoliceChief, there might be a greater likelihood of a good outcome upon appeal.

To be dramatic: Otherwise, nobody’s allowed to ride in the street at night?

I feel for you. and I appreciate your going to court over this.


jonawebb
Participant
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I think it would be good if Bike Pittsburgh had someone who could go with a cyclist at the DM level so at least there would be one person in the courtroom familiar with the law and legal procedures. The Pennsylvania District Magistrate system is a travesty and a farce. What happened to you is almost exactly what happened to me. There is no requirement that the DMs have any experience with the law; they are only required to take a one week training course.
At the Court of Common Pleas level, I would hire a lawyer. Yes, it is an expense, but people here will be happy to help with that. The important thing is that the case will be decided on the law, if the cop shows up.
And, BTW, I have never been bothered again by the cop who ticketed me on Greensburg Ave.


dfiler
Member
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Wow. It must be maddening for you that the judge disregarded the law and made such a quick and factually incorrect ruling.

If putting further more effort into this, it’s likely a principle thing rather than the money. If that’s the case, maybe contacting the city might be more beneficial than fighting a legal battle. The mayor’s office and the bike/ped coordinator might be able to help. They should care that a judge has decreed it unlawful to ride a bike on the street at night in Pittsburgh.


jonawebb
Participant
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Wow, after some research, you were not at the DM level. Jeffrey Manning is an Allegheny County District Judge, and has a legal background. He’s also the president judge of the Court of Common Pleas. So you should definitely hire a lawyer if you appeal.
He’s also the guy who, this week, let a DUI driver who killed a little girl in her yard go free (electronic monitoring) without bail while awaiting trial.
This is the sort of thing an organized group of people who were concerned about cyclist and pedestrian safety could do something about in the next election, which for Judge Manning will be 2018. Not many people will be voting then.


Jacob McCrea
Participant
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“Wow, after some research, you were not at the DM level.”

Jon, I looked at the docket and he was at traffic court before a magistrate judge, at the Pittsburgh Municipal Court building, not Judge Manning. Judge Manning’s name only appears on paperwork for these offenses because he is the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

Jim: get a real criminal lawyer to advise you; many of the comments above reflect a misunderstanding of how the system works.


jonawebb
Participant
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Thanks, Jake. It’s a relief to know that the system isn’t completely screwed up. Who was the DM, and when is he running for re-election?


Jacob McCrea
Participant
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The docket doesn’t say.

The “system” isn’t a bad one, you just need to know how it works to successfully navigate it. Not long ago I represented a cyclist who was quite rightly charged with a petty traffic offense; the case was at the Pittsburgh Municipal Court. Our defense was basically, “aw, come on, this is bullshit” – not a defense formally recognized in the annals of law, but one that will nevertheless prevail in court from time to time. The case proceeded to a hearing. The magistrate judge said he felt the client was guilty (which he undoubtedly was), told us we should have our heads examined for riding on the road, but nevertheless acquitted the defendant and dismissed the case because he felt it was too trivial and petty a matter to warrant even a traffic citation. Sometimes the system works that way; sometimes it doesn’t.


jonawebb
Participant
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BTW, does anybody living in the east want to be a District Magistrate? The term of Thomas Caulfield, the guy who ruled that I had no right to take the lane on Greensburg Ave, has a term that’s up in 2018. If you’re interested, you might want to start thinking about running.
(I’m not sure of the exact area you’d have to live in to qualify, but the office is at Ardmore and Yost, and he’s getting cases from Swissvale to Churchill, at least.)


JaySherman5000
Member
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Here’s another Jeffrey Manning special (spoiler: Port Authority drivers are bulletproof):

http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/10345907-74/bus-maier-manning

Based on the body of work cited ITT, he sounds incompetent. How do we get him fired?


jonawebb
Participant
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He’s elected, and up for re-election in 2018. So that would be the way. But he doesn’t seem to be connected to Jim’s case — that’s an unknown District Magistrate. I’d like to know who.


Ahlir
Participant
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If you’re researching career options, I found the following:
“The annual salary of a magisterial district judge shall be $88,290.”

Not clear whether this is inclusive of benefits.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Uh, given (among other things) that Jim specifically credited the statement to Manning, I’m unclear why we’d assume he merely signed the paperwork rather than actively sitting the case….


jonawebb
Participant
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B/c of Jake’s review of the docket sheet.


Mick
Participant
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There really should be a mechanism to prevent those PAT drivers from ever operating any motor vehicle in any public areas.


Pierce
Participant
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FWIW, as the article states, only three of those buses are on the road anymore. Maybe they were screwing around, but still shouldn’t lead to a catastrophic failure


Jim
Member
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I apologize for assuming the judge was was Jeffrey Manning – I was wrong.

After a little bit of digging through judge photos, I found the judge who presided over my case – Anthony M. Ceoffe.

FWIW


jonawebb
Participant
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He was elected in 2015, to a 6 year term. He’s an attorney, should be able to read the law.

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