Justice Prevails for a Driven Man

Some things are worth waiting for, but a trial isn't necessarily one of them. Accordingly, the Connecticut Appellate Court has overturned the conviction of a man who was forced to drive to court 25 times in three years before his case was heard. Rolf Almgren, 55, a Ridgefield gardener, was charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer after he had an argument with Enfield police who answered a complaint in 1982 that a party he was giving in a hotel was too noisy. Almgren and his lawyer made the 150-mile round trips to court in Manchester, where the trial was scheduled. But each time, after waiting for a few hours, they were told the case would not be heard that day. Travel, subpoenas for witnesses and legal papers cost $18,000, Almgren said. That does not include the cost of the appeal or the time away from his work, he said. When the trial was finally held in April, 1985, Almgren was convicted, fined $400 and given a 30-day suspended sentence. In his appeal, Almgren claimed his right to a speedy trial was infringed. The appellate court this week agreed and ordered the charges and sentence thrown out. The delays were "in the nature of harassment," Judge William C. Bieluch said in the ruling.

New Jersey state officials decided to go out on a limb and redesign a proposed exit ramp for Interstate 287 to save a green ash tree said to be up to 200 years old, project engineer Bruce R. Brumfield told officials in Bedminster. Local officials and residents had protested after learning two months ago that the ramp would cut into the tree's roots. Brumfield said a wall may be built around the ash to protect it. The tree, on New Jersey Bell property, is said to have been brought as a sapling from England.

An even older reminder of the past won't be getting any special recognition in Illinois. Gov. James R. Thompson vetoed a bill that would ask elementary school pupils to vote yes or no on designating the "Tully monster," a marine animal 300 million years old, as the state fossil. The fossil, believed exclusive to Illinois, was found in 1955 among coal shale piles near Joliet and was named for its discoverer, Francis Tully, who died last week at age 75. Thompson labeled the "yes or no" form of election "un-American. That's how they run elections in Russia. This is not Russia, it's Illinois." Other official state symbols have been selected from among numerous candidates. The bluegill is the official state fish and the white-tailed deer is the state animal. Thompson also questioned the expense of the election.

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