Hey, remember a while ago I brought up the case of Big Daddy Leadfoot, the father-to-be who tore through the greater Manchester, NH area at triple-digit speeds to get his laboring wife to the hospital, and got a speeding ticket? Well, John Coughlin had his day in court — and the judge let him off.
I stand by my initial reasoning — Coughlin made some very poor errors in judgment — bypassing two closer hospitals in order to get to his hospital of choice, and taking a Kia down a highway at speeds up to 102 MPH in the middle of the night. The judge would have been entirely justified in finding him guilty.
And then, in my world, suspending the penalties as long as Coughlin kept his nose clean for, say, six months.
Instead, the judge found him not guilty, buying into Coughlin’s attorney’s “competing harms” — Coughlin had a choice between two bad things, and chose what he saw as the lesser.
I think that this is a case of compassion winning out over justice — and I’m OK with that. The trooper really had no choice but to issue the ticket — a decision that should have been made by a higher authority than he. And while the judge ruled against the trooper, it was Coughlin who got the lecture from the bench.
Fortunately, Coughlin is very unlikely to repeat this. He and his wife have said they won’t have any more kids, so she’s not likely to go into surprise labor again any time soon. And he’s been dragged through the system and told — time and time again — just how reckless and dangerous and stupid he was in his 102-MPH race to Manchester, bypassing two closer hospitals.
Common sense prevailed. I’m glad Mr. Coughlin was given his ticket, I’m glad he got his day in court, and I’m glad the judge let him off with a thorough ass-chewing.
All in all, a good day for justice and New Hampshire.