4/8/2007Red Light Camera Endangers Rare Viola
Ticket for a hair-splitting technical violation more important than preserving rare musical instrument, Germantown, Tennessee judge rules.
A Germantown, Tennessee municipal judge on Thursday refused to consider evidence that a red light camera had endangered a rare musical instrument. Marshall Fine, a member of the Memphis Symphony, argued that a sudden stop at an intersection under slick conditions would have damaged a delicate, $60,000 viola that he was carrying. As a result, Fine crossed the stop bar at Poplar and West streets a split-second after the light turned red.
That 0.53 seconds was all Judge Robert Brannon cared about. Since Fine had no legal training, Judge Brannon was able to reject Fine's evidence as improperly introduced. Judge Brannon fined Fine $50 and collected an extra $92.50 in fees for his court.
"My dissatisfaction with Judge Brannon's ruling can be summed up in three words: procedure over substance," Fine told the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper. "This is not honorable."
Fine was driving under the speed limit at the time of the incident. He is considering an appeal.