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Eschweiler pleads not guilty on all counts

Posted by on August 20th, 2007 at 2:40 pm

The Justice Center
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

A few minutes ago, at the Justice Center in downtown Portland, Johnny Eschweiler plead not guilty to all charges brought against him in last Friday’s road rage incident.

Eschweiler was led into the courtroom in handcuffs and a blue jumpsuit. With disheveled hair and a somewhat confused-looking countenance, he stood silently while his case was processed.

He told the clerk he pleads not guilty to all charges and that he will seek a state-appointed lawyer.

Jasper Jon Barber being
interviewed by KATU KGW-TV.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Judge Randall Weisberg presided over the brief hearing and he referred to the charges as “pretty serious”.

Also present at the arraignment was a KATU KGW-TV news crew and Jasper Jon Barber, a friend of Ben Ramsdell (one of the victims). Barber was interviewed by the TV crew after the proceedings.

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John Boyd
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John Boyd

Anyone know if he will he be held until trial?

John Boyd
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John Boyd

Or, was the bail amount set by the Judge?

bicycledave
Guest

He pretty much had to plea not guilty at this point to preserve his rights. Sounds like he hasn\’t even spoken to a lawyer yet. He can always change his plea if his lawyer makes a deal.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

I doubt he was released on bail…if he was in the courtroom in a blue jumpsuit for his plea.

destin
Guest
destin

there are some frightening comments posted in the mail tribune in response to this incident…

it frightens me that some of these people drive the roads.

http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=118746722927948200

Mr. Viddy
Guest

I read some of the more anti-cyclist slanted responses on the Tribune link and it amazes me that people think this is some joke or that cyclists aren\’t being responsible. The bottom line is that a law was broken.

arosvelte
Guest
arosvelte

According to KGW reports, PPB are saying the cyclist kicked the car. As far as I can tell, it\’s still the driver\’s word against the cyclist\’s. Has anyone heard about witnesses? If people just listen to KGW, they might think the driver was provoked, which of course doesn\’t justify his actions…..

peejay
Guest
peejay

As bad as his actions are, one can almost feel sorry for Mr Eschweiler. It truly sucks to be a poor defendant in today\’s criminal justice system. Public defenders are utterly overburdened with clients, and often disinterested in giving good representation. Plea deals are made often as a matter of expediency, rather than an effort to be fair and just. The only thing he has going for him is the bias towards motorists and against cyclists that exists at an institutional level. I hope he gets a fair trial, and that if his alleged actions are indeed proven in court, he spends a reasonable time in jail and never drives again.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Peejay, I agree with you, *except* to say that there\’s a difference between a public defender and a court-appointed attorney. Public defenders are dedicated to their jobs, and do everything they can to zealously represent their clients, all for very low pay.

Court-appointed attorneys, on the other hand, are often unfamiliar with criminal procedure, and may even be disinterested to the point of making a plea deal even when that plea deal is against the best interests of their client.

peejay
Guest
peejay

rixtir:

Thanks for pointing out a distinction I was not aware of. Now, can we stop agreeing and get back to a good argument?

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

Public Defender vs Court-appointed attorneys:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/13/us/13cnd-defenders.html?ex=1341979200&en=95d874b4c5c682c2&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

\”Both kinds of lawyers are paid by the government, and they were long thought to perform about equally well. But the study concludes that lawyers paid by the hour are less qualified and let cases drag on even as they achieve worse results for their clients, including sentences that average eight months longer. Appointed lawyers also cost taxpayers $61 million a year more than salaried public defenders would.\”

Amanda
Guest
Amanda

His court-appointed attorney is a PD (at least to the extent we have those in Multnomah County – he works for one of the regular providers of contract public defense services). It has been my experience that PDs in Multnomah County are, while definitely overworked, also highly competent and focused on bringing about the best result for their clients. I am not worried about Mr. Eschweiler\’s prospects for a fair shake in the justice system.

Jeff P
Guest
Jeff P

RE: #7 – I noticed the seemingly biased reports on KGW and KATU [I think] as well; each reported the drivers statement about the alleged kick [no doubt from the police report] but neither reported the \’other\’ side of the story. I don\’t think we need all the info to try this case in the media or court of public opinion but if you are going to give one side – why not the other?

Are the police reports that one-sided as well?

Me 2
Guest
Me 2

I also saw the story about his plea on KGW last night and was particularly peeved at the Police Spokesman\’s comments about the driver. He basically said the driver has a history of frustrations with cyclists because they don\’t move to the right so he can pass.

Not only is the PPB person making excuses for the defendent, he seems to be implying that bikes are obligated to get out of the way of motorists.

jeremy
Guest
jeremy

Yo Me 2…

we ARE obligated to get out of the way unless we\’re moving with the flow of traffic…the law states as far to the right as is reasonable…NOT right down the middle of the lane as so many cyclist around town believe. You can take the middle lane if you are moving the speed of traffic..if not, move as far over as is safe (without getting \’doored\’).. this kids frustrations aside, ya, still no reason to run over a human being…

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

jeremy makes a good point. Despite what the stickers and patches say the ORS does not grant cyclists \”use of full lane.\” Search for it. It\’s not in there.

Thing is, on the street where this fellow was hit, like many streets in Portland, keeping as far to the right as safely possible (as required by law), basically amounts to taking the lane because the street is narrow.

In other words, jeremy has a good point but it doesn\’t apply to this case or most of Portland.

Schmautz is out of line. Again.

Michael
Guest
Michael

You think cycling with motorists is tricky here? Try San Francisco. SF is a very difficult place to use the streets in any mode – foot, bike, or auto. On a recent visit I was in awe of how well cyclists have assumed their rightful place in the flow of vehicles there.

It is time for cyclist in Portland to move out into the mainstream, taking the lanes in mass, not as an \”event\” ala Critical Mass, but in our everyday use of our roads. This is what they are doing in SF under much harsher conditions than here, and it seems to be working.

It is the time for us to refuse to \”sit in the back of the bus\” one day longer.

Me 2
Guest
Me 2

Jeremy, I didn\’t say anything about riding in the middle of the lane and the law is about interpretation, \”to the right as reasonable\” is going to be different depending on the situation.

A lot of motorists feel you should ride your bike right up againt the curb and weave around parked cars. However, doing so is very unsafe and I\’ve seen someone post a link in here before, which is from ODOT, that advises against it. The alternative to weaving in and out of parked cars, is to take a straight line several feet from the curb, to the center-right side of the lane. To me that seems right as reasonable, I\’m riding in a predictable manner and motorists can see me and easily pass, it\’s just sometimes they have to cross the yellow line to do so. However, making some motorists steer there car to pass with sufficient roomt is a big incovenience. They want you out of the way. It seems like you can ride legally and still get buzzed.

I\’m not trying to hog the center lane and disrput the flow of traffic, I\’m trying to ride safely, by being seen and being predictable, but to a lot of people I\’m being unreasonable because I\’m not all the way over to the right.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

Man, I just had to take my sticker down. I forgot where I got it. Anyone know where those stickers came from so we can work on getting some new ones that interpret the law correctly?

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Me 2, your observations on the law and on safe riding practices are spot on (except it\’s \”as close as practicable,\” which means \”as close as can be reasonably accomplished under the existing circumstances\”– more or less what you\’ve said.).

I also agree with the spirit of what Jeremy is expressing– that as a matter of courtesy, we should share the road– but only where it is safe to do so.

jasper
Guest
jasper

Ben goes to the grand jury and the DA today to give his account of what happened. I want to know, will his account go on a public record? I don\’t really know, but I hope everyone will finally be able to hear Ben\’s side of the story. I haven\’t wanted to ask him – he\’s got 30 stitches in his face, broken nose & finger, serious loss of skin, he\’s really beat up.

Has anyone heard the full story from the other cyclist Tony.

And has anyone heard accounts from any witnesses? I heard a group of people swarmed the car to prevent him from driving away, but perhaps that\’s rumor. (There\’s this KGW story from sunday: http://tinyurl.com/2pe8kh)

I wasn\’t sure about speaking to the tv crew yesterday – I don\’t really know what happened, Ben\’s just a friend of mine – but I decided to speak in the hopes that attention is maintained on the wider issues of safety for cyclists in an auto-dominated environment. I don\’t think Ben wants to be the poster child for this cause, but the issue lives on.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Schmautz is out of line. Again.

I can\’t recall a single thing he\’s said over the years that hasn\’t been a lie.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

From the KGW story:

Mastne\’s bike was totaled, and he says he doesn\’t have the money to replace it

Time for all of us to come together and help out another cyclist?

Me 2
Guest
Me 2

Here is the ODOT reference I was referring to; see page 7. I\’m not taking any issue with Jeremy\’s observation about disrupting the flow of traffic. I agree that it is not the way to ride.

My issue more has to do with the fact that you can be riding safely and correctly, as defined by transportation experts, and you can still be villified as being disrespectful to motorists.

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/bike_manual_06.pdf

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Me 2, I think the problem is that the same road looks different to motorists and to cyclists. Where we see potholes, or glass, or the door zone, or a lane that is too narrow to safely share, motorists see a smooth, wide lane that we are \”hogging\” with our much slower vehicles.

We are right, and they are wrong, but they don\’t know that, and that translates into them thinking we are being disrespectful, when we\’re just trying to get to our destination safely. Of course, some cyclists are,/em> disrespectful, just as some motorists are disrespectful.

Nevertheless, the fundamental problem is that we experience the road differently than motorists do, and that is what often leads to the perception that we\’re being disrespectful.

Geoff
Guest
Geoff

#23 – Shouldn\’t Johnny\’s insurance be replacing Mastne\’s bike? He did have insurance, right?

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Geoff, it would depend on whether \”Johnny\” intentionally ran Mastne down, or whether it was an accident. No insurance company is going to insure against intentional acts.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

This incident occured on a bike boulevard. Many of our bike boulevards are relatively narrow streets where riding a doors length away from parked vehicles puts you out in the middle of the lane, but if you don\’t want to be slowed down by bicycles then you shouldn\’t be driving on the bike boulevard, just like if you don\’t want to be stuck in a traffic jam you shouldn\’t go north over the glenn jackson bridge in a car friday afternoons.

One thing that might help is to do what Vancouver BC does with their boulevards. The green street name sign has a stencil of a bike next to it so that cars coming to that cross street recognize it is a high bike traffic street, giving them the option to go on to the next street if they don\’t want to drive with bikes.

Bjorn

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Bjorn, you highlight another problem confronting cyclists. Merely designating a road a \”Bicycle Boulevard\” is not enough to make the road safer for bicycles. One of the fundamental problems we face is road infrastructure designed with a bias towards the automobile. What we need are bicycle boulevards designed with a bias towards the bicycle– in other words, we need bicycle boulevards that are extremely conducive to bicycling, and extremely inhibitive to driving.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Rixtir:

That\’s the crux of this whole thing. I don\’t think the mode of vehicle you choose makes you more or less likely to be an asshole (although you have to hope that people who cycle are on average more concerned about their environment, and therefore might be slightly less selfish), but we tend to view the other side as a group, and the incidents we remember are always the bad ones. Reading the Tribune comment thread, I found so many motorists willing to assert that, based on one anecdote that happened a while ago with a jerk on a bike, most or all cyclists were rude and unreasonable. Bikers (myself included, at times) feel this way about motorists, too. I tend to discount anyone who starts out with \”lately, it seems to me, more and more…\” because it\’s the type of thing that the human brain likes to do: spot non-existent trends, generalize, make false associations.

And which is always why I disagree with you about whether it\’s possible to change people\’s perception of bicyclists. We as a community are always made up of good people and jerks, and no matter what the good people do, the jerks are the ones people remember. And the jerks aren\’t gonna change.

wsbob
Guest

It\’s natural that tv stations would eat up that hearsay about the cyclist allegedly kicking the car. Fights are probably a good ratings grabber.

I didn\’t hear the Police Spokesman give his little explanation for what might have contributed to good ol Johnny mowing down the cyclists. From comment #14:

\”He basically said the driver has a history of frustrations with cyclists because they don\’t move to the right so he can pass.\” Me2.

Oh, poor Johnny! How pathetically lame. Is his defense going to be that cyclists somehow single him out while he\’s driving, over other drivers on the road, and block him so he can\’t pass? You see, that perception and the resulting frustration on his part(and of course, his likely reactions arising from these two factors) to it is to me a rather clear indication that this person is not competent to drive a motor vehicle on public streets and roads.

Overly complex interpretations of the Oregon Driver\’s Manual regulation\’s regarding cyclist\’s rightful use of the road are not going to work out. Common sense and experience in riding and driving is going to be the prevailing factor in determining a cyclists use of the road in widely varying circumstances.

If circumstances do not allow a cyclist to give motor vehicles sufficient clearance to pass, the cyclist becomes the defining flow of traffic, period. Any motorist, competent to drive a motor vehicle, should be intelligent enough to figure out why a cyclist is not able to yeild the road to potentially faster traffic.

In this respect, I agree with Michael (#14). The key, is as a cyclist, is to be responsible and assertive in the rightful use of public streets and roads, being calm and clearheaded as possible and not resorting to anger in response to common slights.

If guys like Johnny can\’t handle using the road with other rightful users of the road, it\’s time for them to get some help in learning appropriate ways to do so, before they go completely ballistic.

chelsea
Guest
chelsea

i would love to see this guy lose his license and be forced to ride a bike. maybe he would learn a valuable lesson. i doubt it though.

wsbob
Guest

I just heard on television news(KGW 8, I belieive) that the judge reduced Eschwieler\’s bail from $500,000 to $50,000, meaning his family get now get him out. Attorneys argued the higher amount was unconstitutional. He\’s got restrictions, including a GPS bracelet/anklet, but still….

It was a very interesting news segment; Eschweiler taped not saying anything, but an older lady family member or friend vouching for his gentle driving nature, even having averted accidents. Ben Ramsdell, very rigid in a neck brace, very clearly and calmly articulating his feeling that whether the collision was intentional or not, the place Eschweiler should be is in jail.

It\’s going to be very interesting to hear in detail, what Johnny Eschweiler offers as an explanation for hitting the two cyclists.