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Cleveland woman ordered to hold 'idiot' sign after sidewalk drive

November 13, 2012|By Michael Muskal

Shena Hardin understands the shame of being ordered to a corner and told to wear the equivalent of a dunce cap. On Tuesday, she stood at a windy Cleveland intersection holding a sign proclaiming: “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.”

In September, Hardin, 32, drove her vehicle on a sidewalk to pass a school bus that was unloading students. On Tuesday, she fulfilled her public punishment.

The sentence is the modern version of the old punishment for obnoxious students, ordered to go to a corner and wear a dunce cap. But using shame as a judicial sentence is a tradition that goes back to Medieval times and Colonial America when an offender would be put into the stocks so that villagers could jeer and toss offal at the miscreant.

Hardin drove her silver, compact Jeep SUV onto a sidewalk – past a day care facility – to avoid a school bus whose flashing lights are designed to inform drivers in both directions that children are being loaded and unloaded. Hardin apparently had tried the maneuver before, much to the outrage of residents who complained to police.

By mid-September, police were waiting and the episode was recorded by the school bus driver using his cellphone. When Hardin approached and went on the sidewalk, the recording began. Police pulled her over after she had returned to the street.

Hardin pleaded guilty last week to failure to stop for a school bus; a charge of reckless operation was dropped. Her license was suspended for 30 days and she was ordered to pay $250.

But Cleveland Municipal Judge Pinkey Carr said that Hardin did not appear remorseful. She was also was ordered to stand at East 38th Street and Superior Avenue in Cleveland between 7:45 and 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Carrying her 22-inch sign proclaiming herself an idiot, Hardin arrived on time to carry out her sentence. She wore sunglasses and a heavy coat for protection from the near freezing temperatures. She puffed on a cigarette and carefully avoided talking to the reporters throwing questions her way.

At the end of the hour, Hardin entered a Jeep and left. The vehicle was driven by another woman.

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