Speeder banned from Georgia county

Ricardo Riley said he actually likes visiting Walton County. (Image from WSB-TV)

Ricardo Riley said he actually likes visiting Walton County. (Image from WSB-TV)

Back when I was a reporter, judges would occasionally ban those found guilty of serious crimes to Echols County, a small wedge of semi-dry land wedged between North America’s largest swamp and Florida.

I recall asking the judge in a second-degree kidnapping case how such bans helped society and he said something like “well at least we got him out of Valdosta.” I ran with that quote and society at large did not seem offended.

The judge told me it was unconstitutional to ban a criminal from the entire state, but it was OK to ban them from up to 158 of Georgia’s 159 counties. He said most criminals would voluntarily move to another state when their only option was living in a Georgia county that doesn’t have a city.

But what about speeders? Should judges ban people for traffic offenses?

Such a thing has happened, reports WSB-TV reporter Tony Thomas.

Gwinnett County resident Ricardo Riley was banned from Walton County after pleading guilty to going 40 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone. Walton County is southeast of Gwinnett County and includes the cities of Monroe, Loganville, Social Circle.

Riley, who doesn’t seem to have a criminal record, said he thought he would plead guilty and get a fine of $250. Instead, he said he was fined $1,000, given 12 months probation, ordered to attend driving school and banished for life from Walton County.

If you’re going to get permanently banned from a place, Walton County, home of pretty much nothing except a tiny piece of I-20, is a good pick.

Despite that truism, Riley is unhappy.

“I didn’t commit no murder, I’m not a sex offender, I’m not a criminal. I just got a speeding ticket, so I think that’s not fair,” Riley said.

Riley is bummed because he can no longer visit friends in Walton or drop his kids of at a co-worker’s house.

The worst part of the sentence is being on probation, which means he can’t return to his home country of Jamaica, said Riley.

As I’ve said before, fines, especially stupid ones, don’t seem to reduce crimes.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story said Riley said he would continue to speed, but I misunderstood the WSB story. Riley said he will NOT speed in the future. Sorry about that. The video below makes it more clear. Also, Tony Thomas tells me Riley may have misunderstood part of his sentence and he is NOT banned for life, but only banned as long as he remains on probation for the speeding ticket.

More news to speed past:

67 comments Add your comment

Bernie31

February 7th, 2014
2:33 pm

Berniecia69 @ 2:27 pm – ALL know the county’s Good ole Boy’s Money is Green and Not Being Dead is a great motivator to cooperate with The very Powerful and Infulential Lucky Gene Pool Club in that area.

Boxtradamus

February 7th, 2014
2:46 pm

Whoever said Bernie31 is an American was wrong, she is actually an African Non-American.

Donotspeed

February 7th, 2014
2:59 pm

1. The only places that have the 25 mph speed limit in Walton County are school zones, neighborhoods, and a small portion of downtown areas that have a lot of people walking.
2. There was a child recently hit by a hit and run driver in that county in a 25 mph that was speeding.
3. The judges in that county are known to give harsh sentances when people are disrespectful.

Anyone that watched the TV interview with the man last night has to wonder what type of attitude he had with the judge.

Jamaican Bobsled Team

February 7th, 2014
3:01 pm

Hey mon! We Jamaicans has lots of jobs and lots of names to go with those jobs! ;)

Ricardo Marley probably got gonga smokes in the judge’s face.

He might have shot the sheriff, but he didn’t shoot the deputy …

Donotspeed

February 7th, 2014
3:10 pm

As for all the people saying that this is a race thing…. Ask anyone around town what happens to anyone under 21 that gets a speeding ticket in the county. They have a suspended license for 6 months, probation, fine, and driving school. Approximately 10 years ago there were 18 deaths in Walton County within a year, most of which were related to speeding.

[...] If you get a speeding ticket in Walton County, you may want to reconsider going to court over it: Speeder banned from Georgia county | News To Me with George Mathis Note: the original article mistakenly said the driver was banned for life. He is only banned for [...]

KGray

February 7th, 2014
3:27 pm

Most of you CRACKERS and CRAZY and STUPID IDIOTS!

Reality

February 7th, 2014
3:57 pm

Well I do believe that is MUCH, MUCH, more to this story…..and the reason for the Judges sentence !!!!

If not, this Judge has a major problem!

Cee

February 7th, 2014
4:09 pm

Driving While Black (DWB)
I knew he was black before I even read the article. This only happens us.
$1,000 fine, driving school, AND 12 months probation!

I dropped my fried twinkie

February 7th, 2014
4:12 pm

What about AMANDA DAVIS a Black Woman getting away with DUI? I guess the judge was racists too. He really hit her hard. 20 hours community service and $200 fine…..

1

February 7th, 2014
4:42 pm

NOTE: An earlier version of this story said Riley said he would continue to speed, but I misunderstood the WSB story. Riley said he will NOT speed in the future. Sorry about that. The video below makes it more clear. Also, Tony Thomas tells me Riley may have misunderstood part of his sentence and he is NOT banned for life, but only banned as long as he remains on probation for the speeding ticket…great reporting George Mathis.

BHO

February 7th, 2014
5:01 pm

I am going to stop identifying as Black and start embracing the better, White part of my heritage.

SouthernDem

February 7th, 2014
5:09 pm

As a former Loganville resident, this story–though extreme–doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Walton Co.’s judicial system is hopelessly stuck in a 1950s mindset. I wouldn’t be surprised if this judge thinks that Martin Luther King, Jr. is still alive.

Anyone who believes this is a reasonable punishment is out of their mind. Try putting yourself in his shoes, and imagine how you’d feel under those circumstances. This isn’t justice; its extremism, and possible abuse of authority.

The Constitution protects us from this sort of over the top punishment and this guy should be looking for ways to take this backwoods judge to court.

Von

February 7th, 2014
5:42 pm

Even assuming he was a habitual speeder, banishment from the county is just wrong. To be honest I would appeal AND sue.

HootyGoot

February 7th, 2014
5:54 pm

I wouldn’t care if they barred me out of all the Ga. counties south of McDonough. The Okeefenokee Swamp stinks.

Banishment, my eye

February 7th, 2014
6:07 pm

The Georgia Supreme Court considers banishment to be a pretty severe punishment, but has been tolerant of it so long as it serves a constructive purpose that somehow relates to the original offfense. For example, the Court’s been generally okay with banishing drug dealers and domestic abusers, as banishment effectively disconnects them from the means to continue their offenses (yes, they *could* go elsewhere, but they won’t be selling drugs or beating women in the banishing county any longer). And going 15 MPH over the limit simply doesn’t rise to the level of meth sales and wife-beating.

I found the punishment intriguing, because Georgia Code would more or less mandate license suspension or revocation if Mr. Riley was a habitual offender or if he had a significant criminal record. Since no suspension or revocation was mentioned, it would appear that Mr. Riley’s sentence was not only far out of standards, but also egregiously indefensible.

My advice to Mr. Riley is this. First, retain an attorney. Then file a motion with the court to modify the sentence and throw out the banishment. Under the provisions of OCGA 40-13-32 and 33, the court can do this summarily, If the court declines, then appeal. IMO, any attorney worth his salt will be able to get that portion of the sentence thrown out on appeal, and no judge likes to be overridden. So get an attorney and give the judge a chance to do right. If he won’t, appeal and do it for him.

Those of you who think that punishment was fair are certainly entitled to your views. That said, watch your speedometers closely lest the same cop and same judge get a chance to treat you like they treated Mr. Riley.

cricket

February 8th, 2014
6:12 pm

Judge Brad Brownlow is a Loganville city judge and he is known for this sort of thing. I live in Loganville and anyone who has been here very long knows better than to ever go to court over a traffic ticket. If you dare try to fight one in front of this judge you will have hell to pay. It is just the way he rolls. I’m surprised he didn’t throw Mr. Riley in jail too. That has happened before. I hope the media follows up on this story. Something needs to be done.