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#26 2013-02-24 11:22:50

savanni
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From: Austin
Registered: 2011-04-30
Posts: 82
Website

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

Perhaps it can influence the case against the driver who killed Brian Lindquist.  Perhaps it can influence future cases, because we all know that there will be more.  I suppose I should be thankful that they convicted her at all, but I continue to feel that killing Austin pedestrians and cyclists is simply a bloodsport.  A cheap thrill.

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#27 2013-02-25 07:48:01

babich
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Registered: 2013-02-25
Posts: 1

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

Despite the irresponsible driving of Gabrielle Nestande, Courtney Griffin would probably still be alive and well if there had been sidewalk on the side of the street where she was walking.  In this and in many of last year's 28 pedestrian deaths, the city is partly to blame for not providing sidewalk on both sides of every street. This is criminal negligence.

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#28 2013-02-26 04:58:15

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,240
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Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

Hi babich, and thanks for joining and posting!  I hope we'll see you here more often.  I read your post without first seeing who wrote it, and I was thinking, "That sounds like it was written by..." and then I looked, and it was you. :)  I just got a copy of Bike Like U Mean It and showed it to my family recently so they got to see your efforts to promote safer cities.

About your post here, yeah, the fact that the City failed to provide safe accommodations is the thing that everyone's missing about this case, huh?  I've been encouraged by the new sidewalks and curb cuts the city has been installing, but in Griffin's case, you're right, it was certainly too little, too late.  And the culpability of the City is an interesting question.  When the City refused to ban parking in the bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd., I considered suing them, and related to that I dug up a bunch of cases where people had successfully sued their cities over unsafe roadways.

As they said in Bike Like U Mean It, the road to hell is paved.

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#29 2013-02-26 11:03:09

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

babich wrote:

Despite the irresponsible driving of Gabrielle Nestande, Courtney Griffin would probably still be alive and well if there had been sidewalk on the side of the street where she was walking. ....

Agreed that sidewalks on both sides of the street would have helped in this case.  That being said there are at least a couple of reasons that runners avoid using existing sidewalks:
1) Austin sidewalks are often circuitous, uneven, too narrow, unmaintained, and blocked by cars, thus making them unattractive (or unusable) for runners.  (Other cities do get this right, so we have good examples that we should follow.)
2) Due to concerns about personal security, people will often run in the street to be more visible to eyes on the street.

... and there may be other reasons that I'm not aware of, because a) I'm not much of a runner, b) my neighborhood, unfortunately, has few sidewalks for me to experience sidewalk running.

Nevertheless, on a street with the motor traffic speeds and volumes such as Exposition Blvd., a runner would be that much more motivated to use a suboptimal sidewalk rather than the street anyway.

Maybe cycletracks would be the runner's preferred facility?

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#30 2013-02-26 11:23:52

bizikletari
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Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

MichaelBluejay wrote:

the City failed to provide safe accommodations is the thing that everyone's missing about this case, huh?  I've been encouraged by the new sidewalks and curb cuts the city has been installing, but in Griffin's case, you're right, it was certainly too little, too late.  And the culpability of the City is an interesting question.  When the City refused to ban parking in the bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd., I considered suing them, …

Unfortunately in the jury will be seated people chosen from a very similar demographics poll.

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#31 2013-02-26 18:34:07

chavela
Member
Registered: 2008-06-03
Posts: 42

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

We have a LONG row to hoe regarding pedestrian facilities and political awareness.  Case in point:  I work in a City-owned building at the corner of Ed Bluestein and Techni-Center (the old Tracor buidling, for those who have been around awhile).  There is a traffic light at the intersection, but no bike or pedestrian facilities whatsoever to cross.  Last week, a City employee received a warning from a City of Austin cop that crossing 183 by foot was illegal, and she needed to use the nearest crosswalk (the overpass at MLK; a half-mile away with no sidewalk or even frontage road to reach it!).  We've been told that this is a TXDOT intersection, and we need to wait 3 years until the toll road is extended to this section of 183, then there will be pedestrian facilities.  Cap Metro buses used to cross over to this side, but now there are at least 4 people I see regularly during my commute dodging the cars to cross 183 to the bus stop on the other side. I doubt pedestrian facilities were even considered when the City bought this building 7 years ago.

Elizabeth Gray

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#32 2013-02-27 07:56:14

Augenwinkel
Member
Registered: 2010-02-05
Posts: 16

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

babich wrote:

Despite the irresponsible driving of Gabrielle Nestande, Courtney Griffin would probably still be alive and well if there had been sidewalk on the side of the street where she was walking.  In this and in many of last year's 28 pedestrian deaths, the city is partly to blame for not providing sidewalk on both sides of every street. This is criminal negligence.

It's also possible that even a sidewalk wouldn't have helped. Remember last year when a driver ran up onto the sidewalk on Guadalupe near Wheatsville, killing one person and injuring another? Cars are just as dangerous no matter what kind of infrastructure is present, and I believe the City cannot be held responsible for someone driving impaired and distracted at exactly the wrong moment.

In some other previous cases, you may be right that a sidewalk could have saved lives.

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#33 2013-02-28 00:20:57

badgnome
Member
Registered: 2012-01-26
Posts: 50

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

In reality infrastructure will always be inadequate for every situation from a public safety point of view.  I would love e.g. to see very high curbs like they have in cities like Cairo, but realize that other non-funding design issues may prevent them from being implemented.

Bottom line is that the Courtney Griffin is dead due to multiple errors/lapses of judgement on the part of Ms. Nestande.

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#34 2013-03-03 09:39:34

AusTexMurf
Member
From: South Austin
Registered: 2008-11-21
Posts: 439

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

Nestande Not Unusual In Avoiding Prison Time For Auto Death

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/nest … r-a/nWfgf/

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#35 2013-03-03 21:09:49

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,240
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Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

Yes!  I'm glad the media is finally covering the fact that drunk/hit-and-run motorists who kill others frequently get only slaps on the wrist, if that.  I banged the drum on that one for years and finally gave up.  I've still got all my old research archived.

Many people are calling for tougher laws, but I'm not sure that's going to help.  The problem isn't a lack of laws, it's that the existing laws either aren't enforced, or that juries either decline to convict or hand out trivial sentences.  I've got a big article on that, too.

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#36 2013-03-04 10:15:59

AusTexMurf
Member
From: South Austin
Registered: 2008-11-21
Posts: 439

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

"Many people are calling for tougher laws, but I'm not sure that's going to help.  The problem isn't a lack of laws, it's that the existing laws either aren't enforced, or that juries either decline to convict or hand out trivial sentences.  I've got a big article on that,, too."


Agreed, agreed, agreed. The laws have to be enforced by fair and informed police. And court system. And we have strict laws against murder but money trumps justice in the US, anyway.

Stricter laws, just hire a more expensive lawyer. If you can afford it. OJ. Nestande.

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#37 2013-03-04 10:38:58

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,240
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Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

AusTexMurf wrote:

Stricter laws, just hire a more expensive lawyer. If you can afford it. OJ. Nestande.

Well, I think the Statesman article showed, even if you don't have a lot of money, you might not get a tough sentence.

And regardless of how much money Nestande, et al spent on their cases, the failure here is still clearly a jury that failed to properly convict and sentence someone who drove drunk, killed someone, and then fled the scene.

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#38 2013-03-05 18:31:10

Augenwinkel
Member
Registered: 2010-02-05
Posts: 16

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

MichaelBluejay wrote:

Yes!  I'm glad the media is finally covering the fact that drunk/hit-and-run motorists who kill others frequently get only slaps on the wrist, if that.  I banged the drum on that one for years and finally gave up.  I've still got all my old research archived.

Many people are calling for tougher laws, but I'm not sure that's going to help.  The problem isn't a lack of laws, it's that the existing laws either aren't enforced, or that juries either decline to convict or hand out trivial sentences.  I've got a big article on that, too.

I'm also glad about the media coverage.

Here's something I read in one of the articles that I believe needs more air time: whereas jurors can see themselves in that driver's position, they cannot see themselves as that pedestrian or cyclist, because they do not generally walk or cycle. For this reason, jurors hand out lenient sentences to someone who "accidentally" hit and killed a person and feels remorse. The only solution to this is for more people to walk and cycle more often. Then they will be able to see things from the cyclists'/walkers' perspective, rather than from the drivers', and then they will be more likely to side with the victim and hand out a tougher sentence (license revocation should be available).

People don't see driving as an inherently dangerous activity that carries with it the responsibility to take enormous care of everything around you. People see walking and cycling as inherently dangerous activities during which you need to protect yourself in every way possible. This perverse mindset is what has to change. I think the wheels are slowly turning. When we educate more children to walk and cycle (by using Safe Routes to School and cycle tracks), we are training a generation of people to love active transportation. They will be the ones to demand infrastructure and stricter legal protection.

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#39 2013-03-05 18:42:16

AusTexMurf
Member
From: South Austin
Registered: 2008-11-21
Posts: 439

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

Augenwinkel wrote:

Here's something I read in one of the articles that I believe needs more air time: whereas jurors can see themselves in that driver's position, they cannot see themselves as that pedestrian or cyclist, because they do not generally walk or cycle. For this reason, jurors hand out lenient sentences to someone who "accidentally" hit and killed a person and feels remorse. The only solution to this is for more people to walk and cycle more often. Then they will be able to see things from the cyclists'/walkers' perspective, rather than from the drivers', and then they will be more likely to side with the victim and hand out a tougher sentence (license revocation should be available).

People don't see driving as an inherently dangerous activity that carries with it the responsibility to take enormous care of everything around you. People see walking and cycling as inherently dangerous activities during which you need to protect yourself in every way possible. This perverse mindset is what has to change. I think the wheels are slowly turning. When we educate more children to walk and cycle (by using Safe Routes to School and cycle tracks), we are training a generation of people to love active transportation. They will be the ones to demand infrastructure and stricter legal protection.

Exactly. Our car headed culture needs more cycling and pedestrian experiences so that they have sympathy and empathy for others using different means. A common belief is that in places such as the Netherlands and Portland, they have experienced decreed auto/cycling accidents because most drivers are also cyclists, at some level of involvement. They are able to relate to the different perspectives of pedestrian, cyclist, motorist and everyone is safer because of this. Cycling as viable transportation is also an accepted and a common part of their cultures.
We should continue to ask for, create, and live walkable, bikeable community here in Austin.

And well put on the view of driving as inherently dangerous and the perverse twist our culture has taken.
And hope for the future via our younger Austinites.

Indeed, agreed.

Last edited by AusTexMurf (2013-03-05 20:54:19)

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#40 2013-03-25 17:41:07

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 182

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

Maximized the sentence in every respect and even apologized for the crappy verdict.

http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/217850 … ys-in-jail

Don in Austin

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#41 2013-03-25 18:15:55

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,240
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Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

That's good news that the judge added to the jury's light sentence.  And yet, Nestande is still allowed to drive.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if you kill another road user, you ought to lose your right to drive, permanently.

To stop her from drinking and driving, the courts are focusing on the drinking part.  It never occurs to them to focus on the driving part.  Taking away someone's right to drive must seem unconstitutional as it would be Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

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#42 2013-03-26 10:23:42

savanni
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From: Austin
Registered: 2011-04-30
Posts: 82
Website

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

Nothing stops anyone from driving so much as a prison sentence.  Take away their license and they can still get behind a wheel.  We don't yet have the level of surveillance that would allow the police to point a gadget at a car on the road and have the gadget report back that the driver doesn't have a license.

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#43 2013-03-26 12:17:34

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,240
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Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

I think you need to read my post again.  The fact that license revocation isn't 100% effective is irrelevant to the points I was making.  People get their licenses revoked in other, less serious cases, and the courts don't worry about efficacy, they just do it.  The reason courts don't revoke licenses in cases like these is not because they think it won't be effective, but rather because either revocation never occurs to them, or else they think that revocation is going too far, that it's drastic.  Whatever the efficacy, people who kill other road users should not have the *right* to drive, whether that actually keeps them from driving.

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#44 2013-03-26 13:40:25

savanni
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From: Austin
Registered: 2011-04-30
Posts: 82
Website

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

Okay.  I was unaware that Texas courts would ever even consider a real license revocation.  I had really always felt that a Texas court would sentence someone to death before even considering revoking a license.  In that case, I'll fall right in line with you.  Though I still feel more comfortable with a known drunk driver sitting in a jail cell for a while.  Not comfortable, really (who can be when Brodie and Barton Springs are non-negotiable parts of their commute), but more so.

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#45 2013-03-28 12:46:21

rich00
Member
Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

I'd love to see her have to ride a bike for transportation, or walk.

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#46 2013-05-24 11:58:32

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 182

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

I am glad to report that its not yet over for Nestande:  http://www.kvue.com/news/local/Father-o … 20591.html

Don in Austin

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#47 2013-09-09 01:20:15

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,240
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Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

And it's still not over...Nestande just got assaulted in jail.

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#48 2013-09-09 11:30:01

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 563

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

MichaelBluejay wrote:

And it's still not over...Nestande just got assaulted in jail.

Well, looking at it that way ... it won't be over until she's done with her jail and probation time, and even then it will never really be over as she now has a felony on her record which will haunt her for the rest of her life.  (Unless the governor pardons her or something, which should be unlikely -- she was well connected, but not that well connected.)

That said, here's some headline win -- "Nestande mistaken for a deer by fellow inmate".

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#49 2016-04-08 00:33:50

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,240
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Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

I'm not sure if we ever discussed it on the forum, but following the high-profile Nestande case (i.e, probably as a result of it), the legislature upped the penalty for hit-and-run fatalities from 2nd degree to 3rd degree, and upped the penalty for injuries to 2nd degree.

Before the change, there was an incentive for intoxicated drivers to leave the scene and get sobered up before getting caught, because the penalty for intoxicated manslaughter was higher than for hit-and-run fatalities.  Now they're both the same, so there's no more incentive for drivers to flee.

So, this closes what is called the "Nestande Loophole".

As always, the text of the law is on Bicycle Austin's traffic laws page.

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#50 2016-04-13 12:17:03

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 142

Re: Gabrielle Nestande DWI hit-&-runs Courtney Griffin on Exposition, 2011

There's still a loophole of sorts, even with the increased penalty: prosecutors still have to prove you knew you hit somebody.

Nestande was was found not guilty of failure to stop and render aid.  Her main defense was she said she didn't know it was a person that she struck.  You would think a caved-in windshield with hair & skin tissue in the cracks would be evidence enough, but I guess prosecutors could not convince the jury.  Others have used the same defense successfully. 

So, sadly, there will be cases where the increased penalty won't help anything.

(of course there's always one other incentive to running: you might get away with it!)

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