Cyclists' rights on trial in LA

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by cyberlegend1994, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. cyberlegend1994

    cyberlegend1994 Moderator

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    This story was posted a while ago, but seems to have disappeared. A doctor in LA is accused of cutting off two roadies and braking hard in front of them, causing one of them to crash face-first into his rear windshield.

    Story here
     
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  2. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

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    Yeah, I remember reading about that.

    And that guy is an emergency room doctor! :eek:
     
  3. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    I don't think any cycling rights are on trial. This case is a pretty clear cut example of road rage.
     
  4. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

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    I would have to agree.

    And if the facts as reported by the media about the trial are anywhere close to accurate, I don't see how a jury wouldn't find that doctor guilty.
     
  5. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Yeah, those cyclists are lucky that it's as clear cut as it is (ie, with the motorists making incriminating statements about this intent to the police, prior offenses of the same nature, etc.) or they probably wouldn't stand a chance at a conviction.

    It takes overwhelming evidence to get 12 motorists to convict 1 motorist of malicious intent with a vehicle as opposed to simply being involved in an accident.
     
  6. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    True. The importance of the case with regards to cyclists rights is whether the legal system is equipped to handle even a very clear case of motorist assault on cyclists, or whether 12 sympathetic jurors will let a motorist walk under any and all circumstances.

    If the latter turns out to be the case, then cyclists officially have no rights on the roadways.
     
  7. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    No, that's not the case at all. If the driver isn't convicted, it'll just be another in a long line of cases (cases in general, not just cycling) wherein the jury couldn't put the facts together.

    The general trend, in this country (excepting Texas where the governor just vetoed a bill that would have ticketed drivers who passed too close to cyclists) is toward increasing laws protecting cyclists. More and more states are adopting something akin to 3 foot rule. Colorado's laws protecting cyclists are some of the best going.

    This case does resonate with cyclists as most all cyclists have had an encounter or two with road rage but that's not the same as defining some state of cycling based on a jury outcome.

    I think the case does show that verbal or symbolic retaliation toward drivers gets us nowhere and can, in fact, put us in harm's way.
     
  8. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    True it's not the same, however this is more a case of the latter, at least in the LA area where the trial is taking place. As progressive as the laws are getting in some areas, if you can't get a conviction in a case where the motorist practically convicts himself then that really does reflect cyclists' status as second-class users of the road. It's just like cases in the 50's where white criminals were allowed to walk for crimes against blacks despite the overwhelming evidence, simply because white juries wouldn't convict them for any reason.

    The outcomes of cases like this also communicate to other motorists, and other future jurors, what is and is not acceptable behavior when it comes to motorist/cyclist interactions. So... yes, it not only reflects, but will also influence the status of cyclists on the roadways going forward.

    According to the article:
    At least the assault charge is going to require a clear intent to harm, and it will be telling whether the jury sympathizes with his frustration from years of having to deal with cyclists in his neighborhood and his attempt to intimidate or run off the cyclists, or whether they see his actions as an intent to harm.
     
  9. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    The problem is that even if the driver is convicted it will not make the roads safer. I lobbied and got a 3 foot passing law in Tennessee knowing that by simply passing a law nothing would change.
    Education and understanding is the only way to make things better. Some of these "share the road" laws are being integrated into drivers training manuals now and we can only hope that the crop of new drivers may eventually evolve into better drivers.
    Old habits die hard, with no pun intended.
     
  10. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

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    I think it will depend on the Prosecution to make the point that you can't assault someone just because they are doing something you don't like or are causing you an inconvenience.

    I get sick of people blocking the aisles at the grocery store and there are times when I fantasize about running them over with my shopping cart, but if I did that it would be assault.

    I don't get to harm them just because they're getting in the way, when they could easily stay on one side of the aisle.


    No, it won't make the roads safer, but it will at least punish that doctor and give the victims some closure. And I bet a conviction will help when/if they bring a civil suit against him. I'm not in favor of "hot coffee" law suits, but in this case I'd sue that guy for sure..

    I'm sure getting that 3 foot law passed in your state didn't have any immediate effect, but it's a good step in the right direction.
     
  11. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Well, that's already inherent in the law, although provocation could be a mitigating factor (ie, Alienator's comment above about not provoking motorists). If they can prove that all the elements of assault were present then that should suffice, but intent can be tough to prove unless there is evidence of advanced preparation for the crime.

    Absolutely! At least now there's a boundary to begin to try to enforce which extends beyond the skin of the cyclist. "No contact - no foul" might be sufficient between steel vehicles, but it's taken a lot of effort to get laws which do a little more to protect cyclists. With some laws in place, it's now time for education and enforcement to begin in earnest.
     
  12. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Ol' Doc Thompson was found guilty on all counts. The judge remanded him until sentencing.

    Now it's gonna be doubly tough for the doc to defend himself in the soon to come civil cases.
     
  13. cyberlegend1994

    cyberlegend1994 Moderator

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    Yep - the news about the conviction was Tweeted by RoadID about an hour ago...

    Full Story
     
  14. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    "As much as 5 years" for 6 felonies? :confused:

    I figured assault with a deadly weapon would go a little steeper than that. He should have just accidentally shot at them as he drove by and not banged up his Infinity. :rolleyes:
     
  15. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

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    I agree that doesn't seem like much for what he did, does it? :confused:

    Wow, if you read this article the DA used a grocery store analogy, like I did above, in her closing argument.

    LA road-rage trial closing arguments wrap up - VeloNews


    I guess people blocking the aisles in grocery stores is a universal problem! :eek:
     
  16. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Well, I was trying to leave the emotion out of it, but OJ Simpson got a maximum of 33 years for armed burglary (and kidnapping), which seems pretty akin to assault with a deadly weapon. The fact that you're also gonna take the person's stuff seems like a minor difference once you've threatened their life with intent to harm. So...... yeah, 5 years max did seem kinda light for that offense (combined with 5 other felonies).

    Guess I'd better tone down my aggressive shopping a smidge before little old ladies and people who have a hard time making up their mind band together to get some decent shopping laws passed. :D
     
  17. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    The max he can get is 10 years, although the DA said given his clean record, he likely won't get that.
     
  18. David13

    David13 New Member

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    Guilty on all counts. Justice is served. So glad to hear that. This was such a severe case.
    The judge must have thought he was a flight risk, (fleeing to some other country) and also that he was a threat to public safety, so he was immediately handcuffed and taken into jail.
    Excellent. Remanded to custody forthwith. Bail revoked. Thanks to a good judge and a good district attorney.
    dc
     
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