Why don't we just rely on police testimony all the time?

No evidence? No problem. As long as a cop says you did it, you did it. At least, that’s how they do it in Ohio.



So as long as the officer has a photocopied “certificate of completion”, his word cannot be doubted. :rolleyes:

Not that I have much reason to go to Ohio, but I think now I’d rather drive around it than thru it to get someplace else.

This seems so counter- to my notions of justice and law enforcement that I really don’t know where to start.

We don’t just trust the word of arson investigators (anymore), even tho they are trained in arson detection. We don’t just trust anyone’s word, or we shouldn’t, no matter who they are or how much training they’ve received. It doesn’t just open the door for abuses, it practically invites them in.

So, my US$.02: this decision sucks. If the SCOTUS can’t or won’t overturn it, the Ohio legislature should pass a new law that says a cop’s say-so isn’t enough evidence to convict for speeding and any other offenses. If they won’t do that, I’ll make sure that I don’t drive in Ohio and if I hear of similar cases like the one I linked to, I’ll prolly do what I can to stop buying things from Ohio (like Devo albums, rolled steel and US Presidents) until they change.

What say you, Dopers? Outrageous? The right call? Business as usual? Or something completely different?

Apparently, no conviction for speeding could constitutionally be had until the invention of the police radar gun, eh?

I can imagine all those folks standing around in 1953, saying, “Damn, those cars are sure going fast! But HOW fast? Sigh I guess we’ll never know.”

I don’t see the issue here.

The police officer was providing eye witness testimony, presumably under oath, which the court was free to either accept or reject depending upon how they judged his credibility as a witness.

I can easily tell the difference between a car doing 80mph and 60mph at a reasonable distance.

In Philly, the cops always had to trail you surreptitiously to gauge your speed. At least that’s how I always got nabbed. They always had an exact MPH you were doing, no radar guns. Nobody guesstimated (or they didn’t admit it) as far as I knew. FWIW.

One method, still employed, is to “pace” the car suspected of speeding. Thus, follow behind at a constant distance and see how fast you’re going. That’s probably more accurate than watching a car drive by.

You’re basing this on how you always got nabbed? Or was there a department policy, or city/state law that required this?

I believe that prior to the advent of the radar gun, speed was generally estimated using road markings that were a known distance apart, or two officers that were a set distance from each other. As opposed to the officer just standing there and saying, “Yep, that looks like about 75 mph to me.”

I mean, the “painted speed trap on the road” method is pretty error-prone, but it’s not like the “eyeball it and guess” method was the only thing we had prior to radar guns.

And on preview, yeah, the other option was to tail you and match your speed to find out how fast you were going.

Almost certainly more accurate.

But I’m not a trained officer, and I can easily tell if a car passes me on the street doing 20 mph or 40 mph.

And if the speed limit on the street is 25, I may not be able to say he’s doing 43… but I certainly testify he’s doing OVER 35. How much over isn’t relevant to sustain a charge of 10-19 miles over.

If anyone is interested in UK road traffic law go to www.pepipoo.com - I take a great amateur interest in the subject as having a good idea what I can and can’t get away with is essential.

“Generally,” huh?

Yes, i will need to ask for a cite on that claim. Undoubtedly those were available methods, but prior to the 1950s, wwere they the generally used methods?

I don’t believe so, but I’m willing to learn.

In any event, the “eyeball” method is not constitutionally infirm.

Who said that? Was it in this thread?

Right, because things like corroborating testimony, pacing a car to gauge it’s speed, and witnesses didn’t exist until after 1953, plus they weren’t admissible in court. :rolleyes:

Is that concern clear? The Ohio courts have removed jurors (and judgement) from the process: a cop’s word is good enough. Case closed. NEXT!

That’s not how I was taught that justice worked in our country.

Sorry, all I have is an unsourced Wikipedia reference and my recollection of a conversation I had with my police officer uncle a few years ago.

If a policeman sees someone murder someone else, can that testimony on its own be enough to convict?
Can a trained eye tell the difference between 5mph and 150mph?

Those are the only two answers you need to think about. Then the shades get greyer, but this isn’t difficult stuff.

The far greater injustice, of course, is that you will note this person somehow avoided killing widows, orphans, and kittens by his breakneck speed of 80mph.

Speed limits are a tyrannical injustice and should be abolished forthwith.

If eyeballin’ was good enough to issue speeding tickets before the advent of the radar gun, why do cops use radar guns nowadays?

Absent any other evidence that a murder occurred? I doubt it.

Can a trained eye tell the difference between a canary and the USS Nimitz?

Did you have a point about color hues or something in this post? I’m not sure what you thought you were getting at here.


This phrase suggests that the Supreme Court should, if they can, step in.

That’s not what your cite says.

The cop in this case testified that he had been employed as an officer for 13 years, and that as part of his certification in speed estimation he was required to show that he could visually estimate a vehicle’s speed to within three to four miles per hour of the vehicle’s actual speed.

The court said:

The trier of facts is the judge, in a bench trial, or the jury in a jury trial. So when you say that the Ohio court has “removed jurors” from the process, what are you referring to? The court’s opinion clearly says that the officer’s credibility is for the jury to determine.

Just an anecdote, though I believed it was department policy. That was the ancient past, though. I believe now they use an apparatus called VASCAR, but I’m not sure. It is my belief, perhaps mistaken, that in Philadelphia they use some “mechanical” way to gauge your speed (as opposed to eyeballing it), and that has been the practice since I’ve been driving (and accumulating points). Troopers use radar guns.

I guess I’m saying I was surprised by your implication that cops routinely give speeding tickets based on what they eyeball (as opposed to measure), but I’m not disputing it. Just hasn’t been my experience.

It’s not routine, and it probably won’t ever be routine, but it’s been allowed. I know people who got nabbed by estimation a decade ago (Ohio resident here), so it’s always been allowed AFAIK, just not preferred.

Since speeding tickets are just a revenue stream, the main idea is to put people in a position where it’s easier to pay the $150 than take a day off work and go fight the ticket. Radar makes this much more plausible… are you really gonna try and fight the radar, or are you just gonna nut up and pay? So radar, airplanes, and other methods are still going to be preferred. All that happened here is that the Ohio supreme court upheld the last line of evidence.

And is this any different than a cop saying he saw you run a stop sign or not use your blinker or swerve over the center line or any of the other hundreds of traffic infractions they don’t collect physical evidence for? Even then, those are rarely enforced because it’s not as effective as slapping a radar gun on someone and getting a free paycheck.

Heaven forbid the fact that cops never lie.