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Superior Court Judge Can't Beat Ticket, but Gets Off Some Steam

January 22, 1992

A San Diego County judge was found guilty Tuesday of speeding after representing himself at a brief trial.

Judge Lawrence Kapiloff, 62, who has been on the Superior Court bench nine years, was fined $55 for the infraction by San Diego Municipal Judge Charles Rogers.

Kapiloff was given a speeding ticket Nov. 6 on California 163 after a California Highway Patrol officer pulled him over. The ticket alleges that Kapiloff was driving 65 m.p.h. in a 55-m.p.h. zone.

Kapiloff argued that the CHP officer, Gary Copeland, was rude and that 55 m.p.h. is not the speed most drivers on freeways use. He said his speedometer might not be accurate and noted that the 55 m.p.h. speed limit was passed during the energy crisis in 1973.

"This was a speed trap, pure and simple," Kapiloff argued. "No one travels at 55. We all know that."

Kapiloff startled a bailiff and the judge when he pointed to a man in the audience and said angrily, "You listen to this."

The bailiff quickly approached Kapiloff, asking, "Is there a problem?"

Kapiloff told the bailiff that the man in the audience was the superior officer of Copeland, who had testified earlier. Kapiloff called a Harbor Patrol officer to testify. The officer said that he too had been issued a traffic ticket by Copeland, and that he seemed rude.

Rogers convicted Kapiloff of the infraction and told him the issue was not whether the 55-m.p.h. limit is an environmental law or if the officer was rude.

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