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A Lesson in the Letter of the Law

January 05, 1988|DAVE JOHNSON

--A motorist from Indianapolis had to apologize for running off at the mouth before a Kentucky court would accept payment of his fine for a speeding ticket. Mathew C. Huffine, ticketed for driving 75 m.p.h. in a 55-m.p.h. zone, sent a letter when he mailed his $82.50 check in December, reading: "Dear Sir or Madam: Why are your officers ticketing motorists going downhill? If you need some money please call for donations! It's unfortunate there are not roads going around (or over) the State of Kentucky! Please make sure your radar guns are working properly and ask your police officers to protect your citizens!" District Judge Carl Hurst passed Huffine's check back to him with his own letter, saying Huffine could appear in court for a trial or could pay the $82.50 by mail "plus filing with this Court your written personal apology for the insulting remarks . . . ." If Huffine rejected both options, Hurst said, he would take steps to suspend Huffine's license. "In that event you would at least be fortunate enough not to be allowed to drive in the Commonwealth of Kentucky again, but that prohibition would also apply to 49 other states which you may not yet have had the opportunity to insult." This time, Huffine curbed his anger, sending the check and a short apology.

--George Stewart of Brierley Hill, England, is not in the dog house; the dogs are in his. Stewart made the mistake of giving his wife an ultimatum on the 40 pet dogs at their tiny home: Either they went or he did. His wife, animal lover Jackie Stewart, threw him out. They divorced, and she told reporters: "A dog is better than any man." Stewart complained that, besides the dogs, his wife kept a parrot, two big turtles, a rabbit, rats and hamsters, and there was a goat in the back garden. He said the dogs "were in every room and even shared the bed."

--A $14,000 Italian violin stolen from a free-lance musician last fall resurfaced in a $10 street transaction and has been reunited with its owner, Baltimore police said. The 78-year-old Rodolfo Fredi violin was returned to Dana Goode-Veistrup after Craig Taylor took it to police, saying a man on the street originally had asked $20 for it. A thief snatched the violin from Goode-Veistrup in September. She clung to the thief's car as it sped away, suffering severe cuts and bruises that required hospitalization. No one has been arrested. Goode-Veistrup said the prized instrument appeared to be in good condition except for the graphite police put on it to collect fingerprints. She must decide whether to keep it or the new one she purchased last month with insurance money.

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