Steamboat man’s dispute with town Jackson drags on
June 29, 2010
A Steamboat Springs man, who has put the town of Jackson, Wyo., on notice that he intends to sue about officers' use of a Taser on him during a traffic stop in April, was found guilty last week of a March vehicle registration violation there.
The conviction was the latest in an ongoing dispute between Frank Meek, 60, and the town of Jackson.
Meek said during a bench trial in 9th Circuit Court last week that he is a resident of Steamboat but stays with his girlfriend in Driggs, Idaho, when he's working at the Jackson Hole Twin Cinema.
Prosecutor Melissa Owens said state statute makes it clear that because Meek regularly works in Jackson he either must register his 1969 Volkswagen in Wyoming or in Idaho, which has a reciprocity agreement with Wyoming for daily commuters. Wyoming has a reciprocity agreement with Colorado, but it would apply to Meek only if he were commuting from Colorado to his job in Jackson, Owens said.
Cinema owner Frank Londy testified that Meek has worked three days a week as a ticket attendant there since late 2004.
Magistrate Gregory Blenkinsop found Meek guilty of the March 26 registration violation and imposed a $250 fine.
Meek's attorney, Bob Schroth, said Friday he filed a notice of civil tort claim with the town of Jackson two weeks ago regarding an April 7 incident in which police stopped Meek for the same violation and used a Taser to subdue him after officers said he became verbally aggressive and refused to get out of his car.
Meek was charged with misdemeanor interfering with a police officer and improper vehicle registration after the April traffic stop, but the Teton County prosecutor's office later dismissed those charges because of pretrial publicity. Prosecutors have the option of refiling them.
Assistant Town Manager Roxanne DeVries Robinson on Friday acknowledged her office had received the notice of civil tort claim.
Meek has not yet filed a lawsuit against the town in 9th District Court. The amount of damages he's seeking remains unclear.
During the trial Friday, Schroth repeatedly asked Jackson police Sgt. Larry Compton and Detective Russ Ruschill about the April 7 traffic stop. Owens repeatedly objected, saying those charges had been dismissed and the issue wasn't relevant to the March 26 charge.
Compton testified that Meek gave him an insurance card during the March stop that listed a Driggs address. When asked by Schroth to look at an insurance card that listed a Steamboat Springs address, Compton pointed out that it was for a 1965 Volkswagen. Meek testified that he owns both vehicles.
Ruschill said he investigated Meek's residency status and spoke to the owner of a home on Pine Street in Steamboat Springs that is listed on Meek's resident hunting and fishing licenses from Colorado. The homeowner didn't know Meek, and no other property is listed in the Routt County geographical information system under his name, Ruschill said.
Meek testified he sold the Pine Street property in 1999 and never got around to changing the address he uses. He stays at another home in Steamboat Springs rent-free and doesn't own a residence in Colorado at this time, he said. He has an ownership share in his son's house there, he said.
Owens asked him if part of renewing his hunting and fishing licenses didn't include swearing that his address is correct.
"I just know the guy Steve there," Meek said. "I've never asked him about it, and he's never asked me about it."
Schroth said Meek was headed to Colorado before the March traffic stop, but Meek testified he actually was commuting to Driggs that night. He might have been planning to go to Colorado that weekend, he said, but the trip got delayed because of the ticket.
He travels to Colorado about twice a month, he said.
"Essentially, when you're here, you're a commuter from Driggs," Owens said.
"I guess," Meek responded.
She asked whether his 1969 Volkswagen had Colorado plates during the March 26 traffic stop, and he said it did.
"It's not in this state, and it never will be again," he said.