Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Motorist Gets His Day in Court, Three Days in Jail

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Motorist Gets His Day in Court, Three Days in Jail

Article excerpt

LIKE MANY St. Louisans, Scott C. Miller got nabbed in the Rock Hill speed trap.

Unlike many St. Louisans, Scott did not wimp out and pay the ticket.

Scott told the judge exactly what he thought. He called Rock Hill corrupt. He said the little city was full of bloodsucking thieves.

Then he was fined. And went to jail.

This is the story of Scott Miller. Admire his guts, if not his brains. Here's what Scott said happened:

Scott admits he was going 45 in a 30 miles-per-hour zone in the 9200 block of Manchester when the Rock Hill officer stopped him.

"Manchester looks like a six-lane highway there," he said. "To do the speed limit, you have to ride your brakes."

Scott decided to fight the ticket in court.

"I told the judge I couldn't afford a lawyer. He said it wasn't his problem. This wasn't a criminal case. If I'm not qualified, I should get a lawyer. The judge said the case was continued."

Scott says he couldn't afford a lawyer, so he prepared his own case.

"I was the last one in court. The prosecutor offered to amend my ticket to a lesser violation, but I said no. I was afraid it would cost more. I had a trial. The judge was Mark Levitt.

"There was only one witness, the arresting officer. The officer gave his testimony that he caught me on radar. The court asked if I wanted to question him.

"That's where I blew it. After the officer wrote the ticket, he said he went back to his posted position. He really had coffee and doughnuts at Dynasty Doughnuts. I saw him. If I was any good, I would have said that."

Instead, Scott read this statement to the court:

"I'm a member of the working poor," he said. "I live frugally in a spartan apartment with cardboard boxes for furniture, drive a rusty old car with more than 212,000 miles. . . . I live from paycheck to paycheck as a delivery boy. . . .

"No matter what happens here tonight, I lose. If I get fined, I lose. If this case is dismissed, I've still lost hours and hours of time . . . and suffered considerable aggravation. So either way, I lose.

"You said I could only have an attorney appointed to represent me if this was a criminal matter. I think it is, on four counts:

"First, this court discriminates unfairly against the working poor, and I think this discrimination is a crime."

The rich, he said, could afford to send their lawyers. The poor have to miss work. Worse, the rich attorneys get to go first.

"Second, the city of Rock Hill operates an entrapment scheme in the guise of a speed trap, and I think entrapment is a crime. . . .

"Third, the city of Rock Hill operates this entrapment scheme as a revenue generating machine, that extorts money out of hapless motorists unjustly, and I think that is a crime.

"Fourth, this court practices the corrupt legal ploy of fixing a ticket in exchange for points, and I think that corruption of the court is a crime. …

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