6/11/2008Tennessee: Speed Trap Town May Lose Every Speeding Ticket
Every interstate speeding ticket issued since January 1 could be thrown out after a ruling in Coopertown, Tennessee.
A notorious Tennessee speed trap may find itself losing every penny collected from its major source of speeding ticket revenue. According to a city court judge's ruling last week, because Coopertown had no jurisdiction to issue tickets on Interstate 24. Now lawyers involved in the case want to file a class action lawsuit to force the town to refund every dime it has collected in violation of the law.
Coopertown achieved national fame after its mayor, Danny Crosby, was first thrown out of office only to be reinstated upon appeal. According to court testimony, Crosby instructed police officers to "ticket soldier boys" from nearby Fort Campbell in addition to focusing on out-of-town and minority drivers.
"These instances could be labeled as and could be said to range from bigotry, sexism or utter foolishness to insidious discrimination or the purposeful violation of the constitutional rights of others," Judge Laurence M. McMillan, Jr. wrote in his 2006 decision reinstating Crosby. "How much of the facts of this case can be resolved as small town politics and how much may constitute the actual misuse of power is a decision to be made by this court, but in the future may be made by the voters of the city of Coopertown." (View decision)
Crosby's latest trouble stems from the May 1 traffic stop of motorist Jeff Davis whom Coopertown police accused of tailgating. Davis insisted the charge was ridiculous and, with the help of attorney Gregory Smith, he argued that Coopertown neglected to follow a state law requiring each small town to register itself with the state police each year before setting out to patrol an interstate highway. As reported by the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle newspaper, that was enough for City Court Judge Earl Porter.
"The Coopertown Police officer and this honorable court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over traffic citations issued on any portion of the national system of interstate and defense highways as of May 1, 2008 because (Coopertown) did not give proper notification of the town's intent to issue traffic citations on the national system of interstate and defense highways for the year 2008 as required by the (state law)," Porter wrote in a June 4 ruling.
If successful, a class action lawsuit could force the refund of every ticket issued on I-24 since January 1.