Court rejects Iowa man’s attempt to pay $455 court fine in pennies

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — An Iowa man tried to make a statement while paying a court fine Friday morning, however the clerk of court refused to accept his form of payment.

The incident began last year after Brent Busch went to photograph a train derailment in the Cedar Rapids area.

Busch told FOX 8 he was standing in a parking lot under a highway overpass when a police officer came up to him and accused him of trespassing.

He reportedly received a “contempt of cop” ticket and had to appear in court.  Busch claims that during his hearing the judge “refused to look at the evidence [he] had and made a mockery of the court.”

He was fined $455.

So, Friday morning, when Busch went to pay his fine he decided to make a statement, a “mockery of the payment.”

Busch filled two buckets with 45,500 pennies, which he says weighs about 290 pounds, and carried them into the Linn County Courthouse on a handcart.

He shared a photo of the buckets with FOX 8:

Courtesy: Brent Busch

However, the clerk of the court refused to accept his payment. According to courthouse policy, people can only make payments of up to $5 per day in coins.

The courthouse reportedly told Busch they don’t have the time or manpower to count all the pennies and that there is a cost associated with counting that many coins.

Busch says he recorded  a video of his attempt at paying the fine but a lieutenant ordered him to stop recording and demanded his ID.  He stated that he refused to give the officer his identification.  And, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, he was within his legal rights as Iowa is not a stop and identify state.

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website, there is “no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise.”

Busch said he paid $5 in pennies Friday and the courthouse told him he could come back every day for 90 days, making payments of $5 per day.

Busch has contacted an attorney to challenge the courthouse.

“I contacted an attorney because they refused to accept my legal payment.  They didn’t take my payment because of a policy and policy doesn’t trump law,” he told FOX 8.

Busch also said he can’t renew his license plates or driver’s license until the fine is paid.

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