I requested audio tapes of two recent Buckeye Lake Mayor’s Court sessions: March 15 and April 5, 2016..
The March 15 session started out with Magistrate Berryhill saying, “We about had a riot in here last night and we were expecting a whole bunch of people to come in here and start raising hell!” Someone asked if it was about the water. Berryhill said, “No…this wasn’t water. This was about me because I’m too much of a jerk!” A little bantering ensued between Berryhill and the people in the room and then the first of two cases was heard.
The defendant had been issued a speeding ticket. He (defendant) entered a not guilty plea and claimed the paperwork was improper because the officer used the wrong address. Magistrate Berryhill told him that “may lend some doubt as far as the officer being on top of things but would not be sufficient to dismiss the case.”
The second case was a trial in which a woman, who had been issued a ticket for running a stop sign, was trying to defend herself. The woman seemed distraught and said she has since learned that she is supposed to stop at the sign for three seconds. Magistrate Berryhill told her there is no law that says you have to stop for three seconds but he did find her guilty.
The April 5 session revealed a story…a sad story. This story started with a farmer (I’ll call him Farmer Brown) submitting pictures to Magistrate Berryhill whose responded by saying, “Good Lord!”
Farmer Brown and his nine year old son (who was out of school for spring break) were on their farm checking on their cattle when they came across a calf that had been seriously injured by coyotes. Farmer Brown put the calf, and his distraught son who loved the calf, in his truck and headed for a local veterinarian hoping to save the calf’s life. The veterinarian tells him to be there within 30 minutes.
When Farmer Brown came to Buckeye Lake he debated whether to go through town or avoid it. He decided going through town was a quicker way to get to the veterinarian. Farmer Brown stated that he did not believe he was speeding through town but admitted that he may have been pushing it by the time he came to the west end of town and could see the 55 mph speed limit sign ahead.
The police officer (I’ll call him Barfinger) pulls out of the Village of Buckeye Lake pump station and pulls Farmer Brown over and asks for his driver’s license, insurance and registration. Farmer Brown explains he’s trying to get to the vet and asks Officer Barfinger to come with him and write him a ticket at the vet. Farmer Brown says Officer Barfinger wouldn’t even look at the calf and shouts, “I SAID DRIVER’S LICENSE, INSURANCE AND REGISTRATION!”
Officer Barfinger writes him a ticket and then tells Farmer Brown, “You went through a bus stop. There’s a place back there where kids get on the bus.” Farmer Brown tells him it’s 9:45 in the morning and there is no sign and he probably passes LOTS of places where kids get on the bus. Farmer Brown tells him “I’ll see you in court!” Officer Barfinger responds, “I go every day.”
Farmer Brown explains to Magistrate Berryhill that the vet couldn’t do anything for the calf. “I had a reason for what I was doing. It was about a little boy with his calf trying to give it a chance. To me, showing a little compassion and consideration would have gone a long way.”
Buckeye Lake Police Chief Jimmy Hanzey tells the magistrate and Farmer Brown that he wouldn’t have had a problem dismissing the ticket that day but when Farmer Brown made the comment that this was all about the revenue…”you crossed the line.” Farmer Brown says the officer could have followed him to the vet. Chief Hanzey says he couldn’t. The magistrate then talks a little more about the calf dying and the son and how Farmer Brown has one of the most compelling reasons to dismiss a case. The magistrate then takes a little of the sting out of this black eye for Buckeye Lake by questioning how many “s’s” there are in dismiss.
Magistrate Berryhill dismisses the ticket, tells a story about himself getting a ticket, uses a little foul language, and after Farmer Brown leaves the magistrate says, “He (Farmer Brown) might have been a jerk to everybody else but he was very nice to me.” Chief Hanzey then says how he felt sorry for him and the little boy (who was very upset) and the calf. But when he looked at me and said, “This ain’t nothing but revenue for you…” end of tape.
Incidentally, Farmer Brown is a State Representative! He sounds like a very nice man who was trying to show compassion for an animal in need and a broken hearted little boy. Too bad our police couldn’t have done the same 🙁