Judge removed from bench for sparing speeders

Judge removed from bench for sparing speeders
Photo: DPA
A judge in North Rhine-Westphalia refusing to prosecute speeders has been removed from the bench on the grounds that he is biased in favour of traffic violators.

The regional daily Westfallen Blatt reported this week that Judge Helmut Knöner had been suspended after his impartiality in cases of speeding was called into question by public prosecutors. The judge recently became famous for announcing he could not penalize people for driving too fast because he had serious misgivings about the legality of speed traps.

“Doubts about the impartiality of a judge are justified when … a judge takes a core position that affects his objectivity and neutrality,” Bernd Kahre, the head of Kröner’s district court, ruled. “The circumstances detailed by public prosecutors warrant concerns of prejudice.”

In early November, Knöner acquitted 42 speeders and said he would not penalise drivers until lawmakers had reviewed how, why and where speeding cameras can be used. He also raised concerns over the legal basis for photographing speeding drivers, saying that it was founded on unjustifiable anti-terrorism legislation.

“The question is whether these radar devices are primarily a way (for municipalities) to secure jobs and earn money,” he told Stern magazine last month.

Though normally prosecutors would have to ask for the judge to be recused for each case, Knöner cancelled all his court upcoming appearances following the decision against him this week.

“After that I called off all appointments in December,” he told Westfallen Blatt.

But he also remained defiant and determined to fight two charges of perversion of justice lodged against him by prosecutors.

“Everyone is playing their own game here, but scoring one victory here doesn’t meant victory overall,” he said.

The Local/rm

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