The Richmond Register

December 8, 2013

The Case of the Unhappy Robber

By Jack Strauss
Special to the Register

BEREA — Norton, a professional burglar, looked upon himself as a kind of Robin Hood. The difference was that he took from the rich and kept it for himself. As a result, he spent more time in the slammer than he did in Sherwood Forest.

The toughest blow he suffered, however, was inflicted by the commissioner of motor vehicles. Upon Norton’s release from jail for the umpteenth time, the hard-hearted commissioner revoked his driver’s license.

While some people walk to reduce, Norton didn’t appreciate being reduced to walking and demanded the return of his license in court.

“While I may have committed a few crimes and spent a few years in the poky, that does not give the commissioner of motor vehicles the right to make me a permanent pedestrian,” Norton said.

“It sure does,” responded the commissioner. “Norton’s just going to have to walk to his next caper, since the law specifically gives me the right to revoke the driver’s license of anyone who is not morally fit to drive a car. Anyone who bounces in and out of jail like a yo-yo isn’t fit to operate an automobile.”

If you were the judge, would you make the commissioner of motor vehicles give Norton back his license?

This is how the judge ruled: Yes. The judge held that, having paid for his crimes, Norton could not be further penalized by being deprived of his driver’s license for the same crimes. Furthermore, Norton’s license could not be revoked for misconduct unrelated to his ability to operate an automobile.

Based on a 1964 US Court of Appeals decision.