LONGMONT, Colo. -- A FOX31 Denver video was subpoenaed and used in a successful effort to fight Longmont's first texting and driving ticket.
FOX31 Denver broke the story about the historic traffic violation, which was initially issued to Paul Ferruzza in December. Ferruzza told us he wasn’t texting, he was just taking a peek at his phone after hearing a message alert.
On Monday, a Boulder County Court sided with Ferruzza, finding him not guilty of texting and driving, though they did uphold the ticket issued to him for driving without a seatbelt.
All along, Ferruzza insisted the officer who issued the ticket, Staci Stallings, was seeking "brownie points," hoping to be the one to hand out the city's first texting and driving ticket.
It all began when Stallings was waiting behind Ferruzza at a traffic light. Stallings reported that Ferruzza did not move when the light turned green, and that she noticed his "thumb moving around in front of the screen" of a cell phone.
Ferruzza told us he was in the process of receiving a text and that he did respond to it, though not in the way Stallings initially reported it. Instead, Ferruzza said he responded to the text using the voice command function on his device. Since texting and driving is a primary offense in Colorado, a driver must be actively entering data into the phone to violate the law.
A judge determined the evidence presented in court by Stallings, who was operating as the prosecutor in the case according to the Longmont Times-Call, was not enough to prove Ferruzza had been actively entering data into his phone, and the ticket was dismissed.
Ferruzza did some dismissing of his own of the course of the case, too, getting rid of his initial lawyer after he was unable to persuade a judge to delay the case's final hearing.
That previous attorney subpoenaed FOX31 Denver's entire interview with Ferruzza. FOX31 Denver general manager Peter Maroney did not oblige, noting state law protects journalists' work and that the video could not be compelled for use in court.
However, FOX31 Denver did provide a copy of the portions of the Ferruzza interview with that were aired as part of our broadcast. That video can be seen above.