Surely the five justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court have better things to do than decide whether a lawyer ought to pay a $25 parking ticket. Yet last week, they had to do just that.
About a year ago, Charleston attorney Timothy N. Barber wanted to deliver a prescription to a fellow lawyer. To do so, he parked his vehicle for a time in a no parking zone in downtown Charleston. He left the engine running and turned on his four-way hazard flashers.
When Barber got back to his vehicle, he found he had been given a ticket for parking in a zone designated as no parking except for those with city permits to use it as a loading/unloading zone. Barber went to municipal court, where he was told to pay the fine.
He took the matter to Kanawha County Circuit Court, where he was told to pay the fine.
Then Barber appealed to the Supreme Court. There, he was told - you guessed it -to pay the fine. The high court refused to review the lower court's ruling.
All along the line, judges refused to accept the attorney's claims. He said that because he was "unloading" a prescription, he was entitled to use the parking spot, even though he didn't have a permit to do so. He maintained that because his vehicle's engine was running, it was not "parked."
Barber even went to the old standby, insisting he shouldn't be found guilty of disobeying Charleston's parking rules because no proof was offered that he intended to do so.
Ignorance of the law, as they say...
Lots of people have received parking tickets they didn't believe they deserved. But almost always, they decide that in the great scheme of things, it's better to just pay up.
Not Barber. He decided his fit of pique merited wasting the resources of a circuit court, then the state Supreme Court, for a matter that involved no real dispute over the facts or any deep question of law.
Good heavens. Has misuse of our court system in West Virginia come to this? That so-called "officers of the court" feel no compunction in abusing their status?