Marvin Thorpe makes his point, gets a win 2011.05.11

Written by David Green.


Marvin Thorpe of Fayette says that he didn’t really expect to have his traffic ticket nullified. He just wanted to make a point.


Not only did he win the contested case, but he ended up in a front page story in the Norwalk (Ohio) Reflector newspaper.

Thorp was returning from a visit with his parents in Middleburg Heights March 20 when he was pulled over for speeding in the town of Wakeman.

Thorp doesn’t deny that he failed to slow down soon enough as he entered the town—he said he was heading west late in the day and didn’t see the warning sign soon enough due to the sun—but he does tire of seeing so many people pulled over for speeding. It’s simply a speed trap, he says.

Thorp succeeded in court by contesting the marking of the Wakeman police cruiser.

State law specifies that a police car must be marked “in some distinctive manner or color.” The Wakeman car is white, which is neutral, not a distinctive color, Thorp told the judge.

The car has a light bar that looks like a car-top carrier, he said, and although there are some markings on the car, the typical door panel painting is absent.

If a judge agrees that a car is not properly marked, the law states that the officer driving the vehicle is “incompetent to testify.”

That’s what happened in Norwalk Municipal Court. The judge agreed with Thorp and ruled him not guilty.

That gave Thorp satisfaction in a couple ways. He made his point about the speed trap and he succeeded after his wife said it was idiotic to fight it.

“I really didn’t go in there thinking I’d win,” he said.

Now he can sit back and read the amusing comments on the Reflector’s website—both the supporters (“I think you should moving or run for public office so you can show us the correct way to run a small town) and the detractors (“The more I see your picture, the more you sicken me.”)

And no doubt about it, the next time he’s returning from Middleburg Heights, he’ll be looking for a newly marked police cruiser.

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