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Thread: Railfans and the Man part 3 - Any Lawyers out there?

  1. #1
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    Default Railfans and the Man part 3 - Any Lawyers out there?

    Anybody know the actual laws regarding tresspassing? Friend of mine got busted by transit cops on a subway platform, he went to the very end of the platform where there was a railing to stop people from going further into the tunnel to take some pics. He didn't go past the railing, but the there was a signal for the trains on the platform about 10 feet before the railing, and since most passengers don't go past the signal post, the cop's opinion was that constituted tresspassing.
    The UP/former C&NW Galena line has a similar thing in my neighborhood, West of Central Avenue the concrete walls on the North side of the track stop, and it becomes a regular embankment. For about 2 blocks there's a fence at the bottom of the embankment, pretty clear indication that being on the embankment is tresspassing, but after that there's a Parkway Park for the next 4 blocks, and the fence is at the top of the embankment, just short of the ballast. The UP crews have been clearing brush from the embankment for the last few weeks, but the Chicago Park District crews are working with them, it's not really clear who's doing what, and if I was a judge I would have to say that the tresspassing line started at the fence at the top of the embankment.
    With all the warning labels required to keep people who spill hot coffee on themselves from suing the restaurant chain, it seems to me that either a fence, rail, or clearly marked limit sign would be necessary to charge somebody with criminal tresspass. Otherwise it's up to the cop to decide when someone has strayed past the limit, and that's an open invitation to abuse of power.
    Anyone with law experience think they can get this guy off, and maybe sue for false arrest?

  2. #2
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    Philadelphia, PA, USA.
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    Default RE: Railfans and the Man part 3 - Any Lawyers out there?

    Hey,

    I am not a lawyer, although in the Marines, I was know as a ‘Sea Lawyer” LOL! Anyway, trespassing laws are way different from state to state. In South Carolina, it is not required to have any “no trespassing” signs posted to have someone arrested for trespassing on your land. I guess because of the illiteracy rates, the signs didn’t serve any warning. I know that in some places the railroad right of way is a lot wider then a few feet past the ballast line. In some places the right of way is real wide and there are no signs to warn anybody. Only the railroad police explaining it

    As for your friend, you need to check you states and municipal laws for trespassing. Like I mentioned above, in some places there doesn’t need to be a sign posted. Security these days seem to not have any tolerance for anybody who wanders off the beaten path or ventures out to where most people don’t go. I would check and see if this area he was at is considered a public area on some blueprint. Take some pictures of the area for his defense. I went to court for some petty stuff like trespassing before and in each case the judge threw them out because the officers who got me were just a little over zealous.

    Joe Hildenbrand
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  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default RE: Railfans and the Man part 3 - Any Lawyers out there?

    Hee-hee, me too, except I was a swabbie, not a marine.
    Yeah, that's what I'm looking at, this is a young guy who has never gotten so much as a speeding ticket, and it has him all upset. To my way of thinking, blueprints and municipal ordinances be damned, a "reasonable person" (usual benchmark) would assume the railing constituted a legal barrier, if he was supposed to stop short of that, how was he supposed to know? I've been riding those subways and Els for almost 50 years, and I wouldn't have known, I would have assumed the railing was it. And legally I'll bet it is, I think the transit cops were just having a slow day.

  4. #4
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    Philadelphia, PA, USA.
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    Default RE: Railfans and the Man part 3 - Any Lawyers out there?

    I brought up the codes and blueprints so he could have a solid defense. But you are right; there's no need, some cop had a slow day. His supervisor probably chewed him out earlier that day. The way you explained the situation, there shouldn’t be a problem. What gets me is that there are so many strange characters who hang around in the subways. Why was your friend a target for just hanging around at an end of a platform? I think a few pictures of the area in the subway would convince any judge and clear your friend. As I mentioned before, I was in a similar situation and the judge just laughed it off.

    As for false arrest, the judge might laugh at that to. Recently, here in Texas, there was a murder and the police arrested a guy and held him in jail for a few days. The real killer confessed and the other guy was set free. In the news they made sure to mention that there was no grounds for the former suspect to file charges and sue the police for false arrest. And talking about embarrassment, in Oklahoma City, they post pictures of people arrested for prostitution on TV. Even before they are convicted of the crime in court. In some cases all charges were dropped, and they still had their picture on TV. They just make a note under his name that he was cleared of charges. And still, I hear that they have no case to sue the city for doing that. In all these cases mentioned above, I do not know what the chance are of pursuing charges in Federal court for civil rights violations. The ACLU would be a good group to check that out.


    Joe Hildenbrand
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