Battle of the stars: Terry Meiners vs. Sam Cromity [Opinion: The Arena]

Officer Meiners

bigspd.gifBack on March 18 of this year, Officer Cromity stopped Meyers on the Watterson Expressway, and wrote him a citation for going 75mph in a 55mph zone.  Rather than just pay the ticket, Meiners hired local attorney Steven Pence, pleaded innocent, and asked for a jury trial.

Steve Pence is a pretty good defense lawyer.  But the prosecutor, Assistant County Attorney Matthew Welch, is no slouch, either.  On cross-examination, Welch asked Meiners whether he “called Cromity a liar 15 times,” on his afternoon radio program.  Meiners acknowledged he had and that he did it again “two more (times) today.”

Justice_looks_1.gifIf Matt Welch couldn’t get a guilty verdict out of a jury on a simple “20 and over” speeding case, it could only be because of insufficient evidence.  At the trial, evidence was presented showing Cromity’s dashboard arrest video revealing that the officer was talking on the phone while pulling Meiners over.  With no additional proof of Meiners’ speeding, the case boiled down to a “he said / he said” swearing match, and the jury chose to believe Mr. Meiners.

Let’s face it.  Not everyone who testifies in court tells the truth.  If folks started telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth all of the time, we wouldn’t need all those judges, juries, or lawyers (perish the thought!); but since the Garden of Eden, we’ve been a pretty duplicitous lot.

So, who to believe?  Follow the money.

Certainly, both Sam and Terry have reasons to stretch the truth.  But Terry could have simply paid a small fine or gone to traffic school.  Back in 1999, Officer Brandon Eggen wrote Terry a speeding ticket for 17-over in Frankfort, and Meiners appeared before Judge O. Reed Rhorer, pled guilty to the charge, and paid a $34 fine (along with court costs of $67.15). 

LMPD_0.jpgThis time, however, Meiners insisted upon his innocence, and hired one of Louisville’s pre-eminent trial attorneys.  We don’t know what Mr. Pence charges, but jury trials nowadays involve lawyer fees in the high hundreds to the low thousands of dollars.  Why would Terry spend that kind of dough, when he hasn’t had a traffic conviction for 12 years, and has no “points” on his license?

On the other hand, Sam Cromity is a veritable ticket writing machine, and could potentially double his yearly income with overtime and court appearance fees.

Writing in The Courier-Journal, Jason Riley reports that the jury was not out long, and when they returned with a “not guilty” verdict, Meiners went to shake Sam Cromity’s hand, but the cop brushed by him before turning back and telling Louisville Metro Police Badge.jpgMeiners that if he was going to call the officer a liar he should do it “to my face.”

Cromity, through his civil lawyer Andrew Horne, has threatened to sue Meiners for defamation.  Nobody likes to be called a liar, but the results of yesterday’s jury trial may dampen Cromity’s zeal for litigation somewhat.