Man uses viola, weather reports to prove reason for running light

Associated Press • Apr 7, 2007 at 9:54 AM

GERMANTOWN, Tenn. - Marshall Fine showed up to municipal court with weather reports, documents, legal notations and his primary exhibit - his prized viola - to prove his running of a red light was warranted.

Germantown Municipal Judge Robert Brannon didn't see it that way, finding him guilty of running the light and adding $92.50 in court costs to the $50 fine that Fine already owed.

Fine was caught in January by one of this Memphis suburb's red light cameras. Fine, a member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, vowed to fight the violation, contending that he was driving defensively as he tried to protect his viola and bow, which were most recently appraised at $60,000.

Fine obtained a certified copy of a National Climatic Data Center report to show there was slight rain in the area at the time, making the roads dangerous to stop for the light.

"It was worse than wet and slick," he said of the pavement. "It was moist and oily."

He questioned the length of the yellow light. He recited calculations about distance to the light and how that showed his speed was under the posted 40 mph. He cited laws where drivers were to protect life, limb and property, adding that a sudden stop could possibly have damaged his viola.

Brannon said the photograph generated by the red light camera clearly showed Fine's car continuing through the intersection after the light had changed. "I'm really shocked," Fine said after the ruling, later adding: "My dissatisfaction with Judge Brannon's ruling can be summed up in three words: procedure over substance. This is not honorable." (AP) Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com AP-CS-04-07-07 1630EDT

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