Tuesday, January 15, 2008
JUST PAY THE TICKET!!
In a continuing series of incidents in which celebrities are set apart from the rest of the populace: basketball star LeBron James is caught speeding.
The story itself is unremarkable. James left some party or watering hole the night of his 23rd birthday (December 30) and drove his “Benz” too fast down a highway in suburban Medina, OH (Cleveland suburb) at 3 a.m. A state trooper clocked him at 101 MPH (in a 65 MPH zone), pulled him over, and issued a citation. Kudos to the state trooper for not being in anyway lenient with the media darling and cult hero of the greater Cleveland area. The trooper treated James as she would treat any other driver who violated the speeding law: a ticket and a fine.
Weeks later, on January 14th, the story breaks nationally. Again, this is somewhat unremarkable. Everything LeBron James does or says is news. Millions of people adore this newly turned 23-year-old and gobble up every little story about him like candy the night of Halloween. But James is such a magnet for attention that even people who don’t like him are drawn to a story like this for the opportunity to laugh at him or deride him for being as careless and reckless as the rest of us.
But what galls me is that James’ lawyer, Colin Jennings, has filed a “not guilty” plea for James in Medina Municipal Court. A hearing is scheduled for February 11th.
WHY? When CAUGHT speeding, most people simply pay the fine and move on with their lives. Sometimes people fight a violation, but usually no a speeding violation. In this case, James even admits he was speeding.
"I'm not going to jail or nothing like that," he said. "I wasn't drunk. I was just speeding. That's it."
And also, this..."You've just got to abide by the rules that's all. I made a mistake and I'll live with it."
So, why has Colin Jennings filed a “not guilty” plea? Why is a HEARING scheduled? Why hasn’t James paid his fine, so we can all move on with our lives?
This does not strike me as good publicity for James. So the intent here cannot be to drag out the story for more media exposure, keeping James’ name at the top of my Yahoo! news sorter.
And James has admitted his guilt! How is a “not guilty” plea in any way believable when he’s telling people that he was speeding?
Furthermore, most of us cannot afford lawyers to file useless pleas when we violate the law. Most of us would be embarrassed to waste the time of the court system without a legitimate reason. I have challenged several traffic violations in my life, but only when I felt I had a valid reason for doing so. I have won exactly zero of those challenges.
Both James and his lawyer should have to pay additional fines for wasting the time of the Medina Municipal Court and by extension the American people. James should face additional fines since he cannot attend the hearing as the Cavaliers are in Orlando that day for a game. Surely, the Medina Municipal Court must find James guilty if only because he will fail to appear in court, but also since he has publically admitted that he was guilty of speeding.
In fact, the Medina Municipal Court should be concerned that at no time has James indicated that he would obey all posted speed limit laws in the future. In fact, when asked if he would obey speed limits in the future, he said “I don't know, maybe at times. It's not a big deal to me.”
Not a big deal??
I have actually been stopped for speeding in the greater Cleveland area, and since I was from out-of-state not only was the fine larger (over $200 for 10 over) but the state trooper had to take my money on the spot. We ran my credit card twice and drove to two ATMs before I could pay her the money.
In my life, with my meager income, it was a VERY BIG DEAL.
I recommend that these incidents become a little bigger deal to LeBron James.
Here’s how: the state police in Medina should wait for James along the routes he often drives. Now that they know he’s going to be speeding down their highways, maybe they can instruct him on what a big deal it is when someone, anyone, breaks the law.