Written by Gregory Monte.
“No state law requires an officer to show you his radar gun.”
“… I would find that Owens’s due process rights were violated when the trooper refused the appellant’s request to view the radar reading when he was stopped.”
Judge Cirillo, dissenting, Com. v. Owens, 629 A. 2d 150 – Pa: Superior Court 1993
Challenging the Accepted View About Viewing Radar Readings
Violation of your rights or accepted law – which is it?
A quick search using Google will support the “universally accepted truth” that a motorist is not allowed to ask a police officer to see his radar reading.
So why am I even wasting my time discussing this issue?
Because I found a Pennsylvania Superior Court case which leads me to believe that this “universally accepted truth” could possibly be challenged.
Due Process and the Case That Could Change Everything
In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Paul B. Owens (1993), the appellant specifically asked the police officer if he could see the radar reading:
“The parties also stipulated that appellant asked Trooper Long to view the radar reading at the time he was stopped, and the trooper refused his request.”
The majority in this court case decided that the defendant did not have a right to see the radar. This makes sense, because it supports the “universally accepted truth” that I discovered in my Google search.
Appellant contends that … [he] had a right to see the radar reading when the trooper stopped him for speeding. We disagree.”
But here is where it gets interesting …
Appellant Paul B. Owens cited a US Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, in his appeal. While the majority of the Pennsylvania judges said that this case didn’t apply to Owen’s circumstances, there was one dissenting opinion by Judge Cirillo.
“Under Brady, I would find that Owens’s due process rights were violated when the trooper refused the appellant’s request to view the radar reading when he was stopped. Therefore, I respectfully dissent.”
Using the Law to Beat the Law – Due Process Matters
You know, the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Your right not to …
“… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law …”
Well, some of us still think that this is important, and Judge Cirillo’s dissenting opinion supports this notion. I actually think that his words could be a launchpad for challenging the “universally accepted truth” that a defendant is not allowed to see a police officer’s radar reading.
I say this for two reasons:
- Over the course of many hours reading court opinions, I have come to realize that dissenting opinions can sometimes be used to overrule established precedent.
- No one has appealed the right to see a police officer’s radar gun to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (at least as far as I can tell).
Using the Law to Beat the Law – Challenging the Status Quo
Where on earth do I get off thinking that I can possibly challenge the status quo in court to win such an important case?
After my son received an unfair stop sign ticket, I spent three months researching how to beat it. What I discovered was that he needed to use the law to fight the law. My hard work was rewarded. I found a technicality that enabled him to be found not guilty.
If I ever get a speeding ticket in Pennsylvania in the future, I will take the information I discovered in this particular court decision all the way to the Supreme Court.
Based on my research, I am confident that I have a decent chance to win. But if I eventually lose, I will still enjoy the ride. I will pit my research against the state – just for the fun of it.
The bottom line is that, the more you know about the law, the easier it is to fight your traffic tickets and win. That is why I started this blog and my website Stop-Sign-Ticket.Com. You can find a list of my free resources here, but don’t forget to keep reading my blog posts. As I continue my research, I will post when I find out more interesting and helpful information about traffic tickets.