You Can Fight City Hall

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STATE — Lorraine M. Selecky proved that you can fight City Hall, as she won an appeal of her conviction for parking in a handicapped parking spot.

The appellate court ruled that a police officer was not entitled to greater credibility than the accused citizen, and returned the case to the municipal level for a new trial.

According to court documents:

On Sept. 19, 2009, at about 9:40 p.m., Selecky drove with her 13-year-old daughter to a 7-Eleven store in Roselle Park to rent a video from an automated Redbox video vending machine located outside the store.

As they approached the Redbox, Selecky and the daughter were engaged in an intense argument.

Once there, they encountered off-duty police officer James Cantrell, who was renting a video with his children. At this point, a heated argument occurred between defendant and Cantrell, either because defendant thought Cantrell’s children were taking too long in making their choice or because Cantrell interjected himself in defendant’s mother-daughter dispute. In any case, the exchange escalated to the point that defendant threatened to call the police, but she did not do so, nor did Cantrell disclose that he was a police officer. Two days later, defendant received in the mail a summons, issued by Cantrell, for parking in the handicapped parking spot located next to the Redbox vending machine.

Selecky, appearing on her own behalf without a lawyer, contested the ticket in municipal court. At the trial held in the matter, Cantrell testified that he had observed defendant parking illegally and that he notified dispatch of the violation. However, he did not personally raise the subject of defendant’s allegedly illegal conduct with her at the time.

To make a ruling on the case, the municipal court judge had to decide “somebody’s facts are right and somebody’s facts are wrong,” and the judge concluded that “Based upon the inferences that are to be given to the State and to the police, I find Officer Cantrell’s testimony to be credible.”


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