December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Attorneys’ parking tickets get dismissed

ELYRIA — Prosecutors have dismissed parking tickets against two local attorneys who had argued they were given tickets before they had violated the two-hour parking limit in downtown Elyria.

Elyria parking enforcement Officer Nathan Kwilecki makes his rounds April 17 on Second Street in downtown Elyria.

Both Wayne Nicol and former Lorain County Domestic Relations Judge David Berta showed up in Elyria Municipal Court on Thursday to enter not guilty pleas to the parking tickets they received April 10. They also brought along evidence to back up their accounts.

Nicol said he got documentation from his daughter’s preschool in Avon showing he had dropped her off at 9:05 a.m. He said given the time it would take for him to drive from Avon to the Lorain County Justice Center for a 10 a.m. hearing, he didn’t get to downtown Elyria until between 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.

He said the ticket, issued by Elyria’s parking enforcement officer, Nathan Kwilecki, was written at 11:15 a.m.

“I’m not fighting it because I think he has some agenda, I’m fighting it because I was ticketed wrong,” Nicol said.

Berta obtained an affidavit signed by fellow attorney James Gemelas in which Gemelas wrote that he saw Berta move his car around 10 a.m. from Middle Avenue to a spot on Third Street.

John Keys, an Elyria city prosecutor, said after he saw the evidence he agreed to drop the tickets.

“If we can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they committed the violation, we have the discretion to dismiss,” Keys said.

Nicol and Berta are two of several attorneys who have successfully contested parking tickets issued by Kwilecki in recent weeks.

Two other lawyers, Michael Towne and Thomas McGuire, convinced prosecutors to drop tickets they got for parking in front of the Justice Center for more than two hours, even though there was no sign limiting parking in those spots. The city put up a two-hour parking sign in front of the Justice Center the same day last week that The Chronicle-Telegram reported on the tickets.

Attorneys also have complained that Kwilecki is marking tires on the side rather than the bottom so that even if they move their cars, he can still write them tickets.

“I just hope that the way he writes tickets improves,” Berta said. “He’s really got to be more cognizant of how he’s ticketing cars.”

Elyria Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said Thursday that the city continues to have faith in Kwilecki.

“We are confident in his abilities,” Siwierka said.

She said she’s only received one complaint since last week about a parking ticket, from James Taylor, another local attorney. That complaint was forwarded to the Elyria Police Department for review, Siwierka said.

Taylor said he was given a ticket Wednesday that accused him of being parked in a spot longer than two hours.

“He gave the ticket after the car had been parked there 17 minutes,” Taylor said.

He said he had been at the Justice Center earlier in the day, but went back to his office and returned around 10:45 a.m. and went inside for a hearing. When Taylor returned to his car around 12:15 p.m., he said a ticket written at 11:02 a.m. was waiting for him.

Siwierka said there are multiple parking options downtown that those who need to park for longer than two hours can use. She also said that the city began enforcing time limits in parking again last year at the request of area businesses, although some owners have complained about the practice.

Keys, the prosecutor, said that the city needs to make certain that Kwilecki is properly issuing tickets because they can be a hassle for people who want to contest them.

“If he’s making a mistake, it’s problematic for the person driving the car, and it’s problematic for us,” he said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.