City of Cleveland v. Barker, No.: 2018 TRD 003339

CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Ohio
Writing for the CourtJUDGE EMANUELLA GROVES
Citation108 N.E.3d 769
Parties CITY OF CLEVELAND, Plaintiff v. James P. BARKER, Jr., Defendant
Decision Date21 March 2018
Docket NumberNo.: 2018 TRD 003339

108 N.E.3d 769

CITY OF CLEVELAND, Plaintiff
v.
James P. BARKER, Jr., Defendant

No.: 2018 TRD 003339

Ohio Municipal Court, Cleveland.

Date: March 21, 2018


Attorney Lorraine Coyne, Assistant Prosecutor, appeared for Plaintiff and Defendant James P. Barker, Jr., appeared pro se.

JUDGMENT ENTRY

JUDGE EMANUELLA GROVES

108 N.E.3d 770

Facts

On January 27, 2018, James P. Barker, Jr., Defendant, was traveling southbound on West 130th Street in Cleveland, Ohio and made a U-turn at the front opening of the grassy island to enter onto Interstate 480. Ohio Highway Trooper Michael Hounsel was stationed in the parking lot of Cabinets Granite and observed the Defendant make a U-turn in front of the "No U-turn" sign. The trooper pulled the Defendant over and cited him for disobeying a traffic control device in violation of O.R.C.4511.12, which states:

§ 4511.12 Obeying traffic control devices.

(A) No pedestrian, driver of a vehicle, or operator of a streetcar or trackless trolley shall disobey the instructions of any traffic control device placed in accordance with this chapter, unless at the time otherwise directed by a police officer.

No provision of this chapter for which signs are required shall be enforced against an alleged violator if at the time and place of the alleged violation an official sign is not in proper position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. Whenever a particular section of this chapter does not state that signs are required, that section shall be effective even though no signs are erected or in place.

Defendant testified and admitted he made the U-turn. Defendant described the area in which he made the U-turn. He stated West 130th Street is a divided street with a grassy green island which separates the north and southbound lanes. He further described the island has an opening at the front and back. However, there is only one "No U-turn" sign erected at the top of the grassy island. He presented a drawing of the area which showed a median strip in front of the island with no sign. The Defendant stated that there is not a "No U-turn" sign in front of the opening where he turned. The sign is behind the opening. The Defendant argued that the "No U-turn" sign was intended for the back opening of the island.

The Defendant stated, "according to the Ohio Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (OMUTCD) Section 2B.18, signage for left turns and U-turns are supposed to be before the intersection." The trooper further explained Defendant's position and stated, "He turned at the intersection prior to the sign. Because it's a double intersection area, so he turned prior to the sign and there is a second section." The trooper further stated, "We've had people lose trials because they say the sign is for the first one (intersection)."

In short, drivers who make U-turns at both intersections have been cited and convicted for violating the one "No U-turn" sign. The issue is whether the Defendant can avoid conviction of the U-turn violation by his affirmative defense that the sign was not properly erected. Consequently, before the Defendant can be convicted, the court must find the sign was properly erected.

Prior to addressing Defendant's affirmative defense of violating 4511.12, it is helpful to state the statutory requirements in the erection of traffic control devices. Traffic laws and regulations are

108 N.E.3d 771

created to promote highway safety.1 The Department of Transportation has the responsibility to adopt a manual and specifications for a uniform traffic control devices system.2 All traffic control devices erected on a public road, street or alley shall conform to the state...

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