Channel 19

Todd Dills

Kenny Capell’s obstruction of justice case at the scale house, in his own words

| March 23, 2015
Kenny and Nikki Capell edit

Nikki and Kenny Capell attending a friend’s wedding

According to Philadelphia, Tenn.-based owner-operator Kenny Capell (pictured here with his wife, Nikki), what ultimately became an obstruction of justice charge from the state of Georgia all started with the determination by an inspecting officer to issue a logs-not-current violation to a driver running electronic logs. His case has become fairly well-known following news of its dismissal published earlier this month. In the podcast below, hear owner-operator Capell tells the story of the case in his own words, following official word received of its dismissal.

Kenny Capells Freightliner Columbia edit

The Capells’ Freightliner

His arrest on obstruction of justice charges followed two inspections from the same officer at the northbound scale on I-75 in Ringgold, Ga., with Capell being awoken in the sleeper berth of his and wife Nikki’s quite recognizable 2003 Freightliner Columbia both times.

In the first case, he says, he was told not to log his official return to duty with the inspection, in spite of the fact that his name was on the inspection report. (The interruption to the load the couple was under caused a later service failure.)

How big is the issue of drivers being woken up in the sleeper berth? If you’re using a mobile device, tap the image to call and weigh in with a voice message we may use in a future "mailbag" podcast. If you’re on a desktop, call 530-408-6423. Be sure to include your name and base location in the message.

How big is the issue of drivers being woken up by law enforcement in the sleeper berth? If you’re using a mobile device, tap the image to call and weigh in with a voice message we may use in a future “mailbag” podcast. If you’re on a desktop, call 530-408-6423. Be sure to include your name and base location in the message.

Considering that, and with a history on Kenny’s part of having been woken up in the sleeper with little to no cause by officers in the past, Capell then refused to comply with the request for ID the second time around, a few weeks later, which resulted in his arrest.

He explains his reasoning through it all in the podcast. A couple notes:

1) When Capell refers the “Hobbs Act,” he’s referring to statute now codified in U.S. code criminalizing extortion under “color of law,” as he puts it. I’ve read it described in various places as “color of official right” when such right does not in fact exist.

2) Small Business in Transportation Coalition founder James Lamb’s “Protecting the sanctity of sleep,” which Capell also makes reference to, can be read at this link. As previously reported, Lamb lodged an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice arguing Capell’s side of the obstruction-of-justice case as it was being considered over the last year.

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Ultimately, Capell would like to see it become common practice in law enforcement — whether by new law or by better recognition of existing protocol — to better respect the job trucking professionals do by refraining in cases where there is clearly no reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing from waking sleeping codrivers. I’ll certainly second him there.

And as for the logs-not-current violation that started the whole affair, the company the Capells were leased to, Nikki says, chose to not challenge it; it still sits on her Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) report, as well as contributes points to the carrier’s percentile ranking in the CSA SMS’ Hours of Service BASIC category of measurement.

Thoughts? Sound off in the comments…

LadybugLet dogs wearing sunglasses lie
If you happen to see this pooch sitting happily wearing her shades, go on and take a picture, but let it be known that the sunglasses like as not might be taking your picture, too.

The pup is “Ladybug,” Nikki Capell explains, a “55-pound pit bull who struts around in her sunglasses. She’s working on being 10 years old.” The glasses don’t have a strap keeping them on her head, mind you — seems the 10-year-old has learned the value of eye shade over the years.

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On more than one occasion, Kenny says, after using his video-capable “spy” glasses with Ladybug to capture video from dog-vantage of her chasing a frisbee, he’s left them on her as he went into a truckstop. “And then she’d film people taking pictures of her.”

One particular young man in a Corvette pulled up in one of the videos, Capell says. “He leans down in front of her and is trying to take a picture of her, but as soon as he gets her where he wants her to be” her head turns to the side, which happens over and over and over again. “It’s unreal the number of people who walk by her, see her wearing sunglasses and turn around and want to take a picture.”

Unreal? I don’t know about that. I mean, wouldn’t you?

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