CLEVELAND –The Cleveland Municipal Court judge who ordered a driver to hold an ‘idiot’ sign on the streets of Cleveland said the way the first part of the sentence was carried out was “unacceptable.”
Shena Hardin, 32, of Cleveland, stood at the corner of East 38th Street and Superior Avenue in Cleveland for an hour on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
The sign read, “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid the school bus.”
But on Tuesday, instead of holding the sign as Judge Pinkey Carr ordered, Hardin left it propped against her as she smoked cigarettes and used her cell phone.
“For me it was just kind of a smack in the face,” Judge Carr said of Hardin’s defiance.
Hardin was caught on video driving on the sidewalk to pass a bus carrying special needs children.
The portion of sidewalk she used to avoid the bus was the entrance to a day care.
When the bus driver noticed Hardin’s pattern along East 38th Street, he notified Cleveland Schools and had his cell phone camera rolling during one of her episodes.
Police set up a sting and cited her on Sept. 11.
Hardin originally pleaded not guilty to charges of not stopping for a school bus and reckless operation.
She later changed that to a no contest plea.
“I felt like she was making a mockery of it,” Judge Carr continued, saying she spoke with Hardin’s lawyer to emphasize that Hardin must hold the sign and refrain from smoking and texting on Wednesday.
Judge Carr said she chose the unusual sentence based on several things, including Hardin’s lack of remorse.
“I think this would be very fitting for her. And plus it was my first thought when I saw the story. I said, ‘only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk,’” Judge Carr explained.
“I never imagined that it would turn into this,” said Judge Carr, commenting on the national attention the case has fetched. “Because at the end of the day as far as punishment, yeah, I want to punish the offender, but yet, you know, it’s about the community, too. I mean, she owes it to this community, she owes it to the children that were on that school bus, the parents, I mean it’s just a total disrespect, and I want to send a clear message that that’s not behavior that one should engage in.”
At least one person showed public support for Hardin. Archie Berwick from 87.7 FM showed up to stand beside Hardin on Wednesday with a sign of his own.
Taped to his chest, Berwick’s sign said, “If she’s an idiot, then so am I.”
His message was that everyone makes mistakes.
Hardin’s license was suspended for six months and she must also pay a $250 fine.
“I’m pretty confident that she’s learned something from this, she’ll never drive on another sidewalk,” Judge Carr said.
Judge Carr considered visiting Hardin as she carried out her sentence on Wednesday, but decided against it.