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03-03-06, 06:07 PM #1
Judge, who is also an Attorney, gets busted fixing client's tickets
Our exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered that some drivers have gotten out of four, five, even six speeding tickets -- all right in the middle of citywide speeding crackdown. They didn't have to pay a fine. They didn't even have to go to traffic school.
For Nashville's traffic officers, it's not your everyday speeder that worries them the most.
It's the repeat offenders who just don't seem to get the message.
Take, for example, this man: Over the previous two years, court records show that Nashville attorney Stanley A. Davis has been ticketed for speeding not just once, not twice, but six times.
And get this: Davis got out of.every single one -- thanks mainly to special judge Paul Walwyn.
"He's a friend of yours?" NewsChannel 5's chief investigative reporter Phil Williams asks Walwyn.
"Yes, he is," he replies.
Walwyn is a Nashville attorney who frequently fills in as a traffic court judge.
"Yes, I retired these tickets," he says, looking at tickets handed him by Williams. "These are my signatures."
It was Walwyn who dismissed five of Davis's six tickets.
"If a guy has this kind of problem with speeding, why would you just let him off?" Williams asks.
"Well, I'm surprised that actually I retired this many of his tickets," Walwyn answers. "I didn't see these as -- I really don't have a response."
Davis -- whom we spotted speeding 20 miles over the speed limit on Briley Parkway -- would not talk to us about his ticket secrets.
"The speeding crackdown doesn't apply to him, does it?" Williams asks.
"Well, it should apply to him," the special judge responds. "It should apply to him."
In fact, a NewsChannel 5 investigation of speeding tickets written over the past two years found more than 700 people who had multiple speeding tickets -- and got out of every single one.
Like this woman: Monique Buford runs a restaurant near the Metro police training academy.
She also racked up six speeding tickets -- tickets that were all dismissed. Notes on the tickets suggest it was at the request of a police officer.
"Is it a police officer who helps you out?" Phil Williams asks her.
"I don't want to discuss it," she answers.
"You don't want to discuss it?"
The daughter of an officer in the traffic violations bureau also got out of five speeding tickets... as did an assistant to an attorney who's close to General Sessions Presiding Judge Casey Moreland.
"That's my signature. That's my judgment," Moreland acknowledges.
Three of her five tickets were dismissed by Moreland himself, although he says he doesn't remember doing it.
"It could tell me a lot of things," he says. "She could have been lucky that day and been in court where the cases were dismissed."
For some, it's a sign of a cultural problem in Nashville's courts. For others, it's just a reflection of the volume of business.
"So many things are flying at you that mistakes can be made," Walwyn says.
"And someone could slip one ticket, two tickets, five tickets past you?" Williams asks.
"Oh, it could happen. It could happen."
Whatever the reason, Paul Walwyn says what we discovered has been an eye-opener for him.
And if his friend Stan Davis ever thought he had an "in" with this judge, Walwyn says:
"Not anymore he hasn't."
"You won't dismiss any more for him?"
The lessons we pointed out from our parking ticket investigation still apply here:
- The system encourages judge shopping. Any judge can dismiss any ticket.
- Attorneys substituting as special judges have just as much authority to dismiss anybody's ticket as any elected judge.
- And judges don't keep any record of officers' names when they grant officers' request to dismiss tickets.
Nashville's General Sessions judges say they say they're talking about the issues, but they haven't done anything.
The police department's Office of Professional Accountability is investigating whether any officers might have been involved in ticket fixing
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