Paul Rolly: Dan Snarr and the case of the flawed flasher
PAUL ROLLY

By paul rolly

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: June 7, 2013 07:15AM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:33PM
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Paul Rolly

The Perry Mason-type drama swirling around the disputed speeding ticket of Murray Mayor Dan Snarr will be continued until fall season, keeping us as spellbound as the suspenseful wait to find out who shot J.R. Ewing.

In the Caper of the Mysterious Missing School-Zone Light, Snarr’s date with destiny in Salt Lake City’s Justice Court was to reach its climax Thursday. But Snarr was granted a continuance until Sept. 5 so he could attend Murray High School’s graduation ceremonies one last time as mayor.

Assuming the Sept. 5 courtroom appearance ends the matter, it will have been seven months since Snarr got a ticket for speeding in a school zone that he has contested with the zeal of Clarence Darrow’s harrowing defense in the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial.

To recap: Snarr was driving on State Street after attending a legislative committee meeting in February when he attempted to turn left onto Harvard Avenue, only to realize it was a one-way street and he couldn’t legally enter. So he sped up to get back into the ongoing lanes and was pulled over for speeding in a school zone.

He argued that the flashing light on his side of the street was not working, so he shouldn’t have been held accountable. He has gathered a pile of evidence in the case, which at most would yield a $150 fine.

He has a witness list of up to nine people, including Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, and has a six-minute video that includes testimonials from the two crossing guards that the light was broken.

Salt Lake City prosecutors, obviously wanting this saga to go away, offered Snarr a deal in which he would enter a plea in abeyance for going just 2 mph over the speed limit instead of the 12 mph listed on the ticket.

But that has motivated Snarr to gather more evidence, demanding the city provide a list of tickets issued for going 2 mph over the limit in the past five years.

He also has statements from the Utah Department of Transportation officials that the broken flashing light, which had been out for seven days, wasn’t brought to UDOT’s attention until Snarr told them, enhancing his argument that the city, not he, was derelict.

And, he will argue, the cop should have been helping the understaffed crossing guards get the kids safely across the street instead of issuing tickets.

Stay tuned for the next episode.

Speaking of justice • Rosalie Peterson shares a story of an incident some time ago in Salt Lake City that, to her, demonstrated the lack of flexibility and humanity in the court system.

Two days after her then-14-year-old daughter was released from the hospital where she had surgery on both heels, the teen began complaining of chest pains. After Peterson gave her daughter the pain medication that had been prescribed, she began shivering uncontrollably.

Peterson and her son then drove her daughter back to the LDS Hospital emergency room and parked across the street in a permit-required space because the small ER lot was full.

Peterson’s son carried his sister, who had a pink-and-purple cast on each leg and she was immediately admitted and given an oxygen mask. As soon as the situation was stable, the son moved the car about a half hour after he had parked it.

There was a ticket on the car for parking in a restricted space, but personnel at the hospital were sure that under the circumstances, it would be dismissed.

Little did they know.

After a few hours in LDS Hospital’s emergency room, the daughter was flown by helicopter to Primary Children’s Medical Center, where it was discovered she was in septic shock.

When she finally went home from the hospital after six days, the family was given notice that the parking ticket had gone up to $50.

The reasons she gave for the ticket and the tardiness in paying it garnered little sympathy from city parking officials. She still had to pay a reduced fine.

prolly@sltrib.com