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Princeton University Professor Pleads Guilty for Speeding, Exceeding Out of State Driving Privileges

Imani Perry PhotoPrinceton University Professor Imani Perry appeared in municipal court this morning and pleaded guilty to speeding and driving while exceeding her out-of-state driving privileges on Feb. 6.

About a half a dozen members of the Princeton University African American Studies Department, including chair Eddie Glaude, sat with Perry during the court session.

On Feb. 6, Perry was pulled over for driving 67 miles per hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone. The police officer discovered she was driving with a suspended Pennsylvania license. He also discovered Perry had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court for not paying two parking tickets. Perry also could not produce her car registration during the stop.

Perry had her license reinstated in Pennsylvania at a court hearing last week. Princeton Municipal Prosecutor Reed Gusciora today downgraded her ticket for speeding to going 49 miles per hour in a 45-mile-per-hour  zone, which means Perry will not get any points on her Pennsylvania license. He also downgraded the charge of driving with a suspended license to exceeding out of state driving privileges. Perry was required to pay $428 in fines.

Her court appearance was brief, and she just answered a few questions asked by Judge John McCarthy with yes. She declined to talk to reporters outside the courtroom after the proceedings.

Perry’s arrest made national headlines after she described her ordeal on social media, saying she was not allowed to make a phone call, was body searched, and was handcuffed. She claimed race was not incidental to her arrest and treatment.

Controversy over her arrest died down after a video of the incident was released to the press.

Perry is scheduled to speak at Labyrinth Books on Nassau Street on Thursday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. with Glaude and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. The talk is titled “Race and Democracy in the U.S.: Black Thought in the Hour of Chaos.”

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Robert Dana

    To bring closure and perspective to this matter, I commend to your readers “Murder in the Park” – a documentary on HBO. It’s about how several misguided and, yes, dumb college students and an evil, corrupt journalism professor from Northwestern University wrongfully condemned proper police action and ruined innocent lives; including sending a man to Illinois state prison for a crime he did not commit. (Unlike “Making A Murderer” the HBO documentary is balanced and unbiased.)

    All in the name of social justice! The Perry episode pales in comparison but is on the same continuum as that case.

    Cool headed, fair and logical people must guard against the stupidity and tyranny of today’s college campus.

  • krystalknapp

    Professor Perry decided not to participate.

  • Nadya

    Wondering how did it go?

  • RodneyA

    She should be fired from the University. The end!

  • Robert Dana

    Dr. Perry’s entourage must have been sorely disappointed when their mentor was treated respectfully and fairly by the Princeton judicial system. No differently — I might add — than the police officers treated her the day she was caught speeding and driving without proper documentation.

    Heck. A microaggresion or two can be fun. You get to cry racism, be a victim and stick it to “the man” — all with little, to no, downside or sacrifice.

    Even still, I wouldn’t be suprised if they got some sort of credit for it in their course work.

  • Brett Borowski

    Ah.

    You specifically called out the prosecutor in your comment so I thought you were referring specifically to the plea being something special to Ms. Perry.

    I do think it’s fair to compare Ms. Perry’s plea with the norm, though. It seems she was treated no better or worse than any other offender in similar circumstances.

    Forgive me for not understanding what you meant and assuming you didn’t know that her plea was typical.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    Mr Borowski,

    There is no comparison.
    If those deals are made, sure, because why adding points to the insurance; however, you might be talking about we, ordinary people, who receive a ticket and pay immediately or go to court to get a deal; however, after the manufactured story that professor Perry put out, repeating countless times that she did nothing wrong, and at the same time contradicting herself when she said she did something wrong; when the job and reputation of police officers were tainted due to her rants that became national news; she should have assumed responsibility of her acts and she should have not been offered any deals, in my opinion. So, there is no comparison and I will always remember her because of how low she acted, and I will use the “Imani” when referring to a similar situation when PC, fear, wanting to put things behind, pretending it didn’t happen, etc, trump over what the law dictates. I certainly want to see a support letter from PU president and staff when perhaps a janitor gets involved in a situation like this; but I doubt. And this is exactly what I mean when I say “pulling an Imani”.

  • Brett Borowski

    Sandra, in case you didn’t know, nearly everybody who goes to court gets plead down. This is nothing new.

    Twenty some years ago, a police officer that wrote me a ticket explicitly told me to go to court to “fight” the ticket because he felt bad. They were under orders to not exercise discretion on the road at the time, otherwise he would have knocked it down right then and there or he might have even let me go. It cost me a little more than just paying the ticket.

    This seems to have become a bit more corrupt since then. There’s some new(ish) non-points offense that municipalities seem eager to offer because the fines are substantially higher; drivers are eager because “no points” so there’s less (no?) impact on the offenders’ insurance rates.

    Now some of us are lucky and the odd ticket will not affect our insurance. In which case, paying an $85 2-point ticket makes more sense than pleading to a few hundred dollar non-points offense.

    I’ve wondered whether this compromises the points system’s effectiveness at catching habitual offenders.

    None of this is unique or special to Ms. Perry. The whole Imani Perry incident exposed a whole lot of different issues, several of which are not specific to the particular person involved.

    Tagging this business-as-usual as an “Imani” without understanding how the world works is on par with tweeting-before-one-thinks or throwing one’s weight around before one has all the facts.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    I guess you are now a victim of microagression from my part as my language is offensive to you. That is a problem that is getting out of control, I thought only “milenians” have it; boy, was I wrong. I listen and because I do is that I am fed up and bored with the same whining about nothing, we need to “man up” and land on earth, this world is tough and we need to be realistic. Dr Perry, because of her disregard to the speed limit was stopped by the police; if she would have respected the speed limit, no one would ha X ever known about the unpaid ticket and her driving with a suspended license. However, she came up with a story of harassment and victimization that only happened in her head, she had no problem accusing people of stuff that never happened as she was tested respectfully; so, that is exactly why I get fed up, because people like she make the cause and the problems their spotlight instead of working towards a solution. She lost credibility but as she feels entitled to be treated differently, she doesn’t see it. Sad coming from a PU professor who us not a role model or a mentor; she had not grown up yet; andthis is my opinion that might be very offensive, rude, and everything else to you. Thanks for not trying to change my thinking, that would be a lost battle, because I live in the real world and I know what is right or wrong, no matter the color of my skin.

  • Local

    How ironic. She claimed she was treated badly because she was black, when actually she was ultimately treated better than most? Wouldn’t her Harvard JD or Princeton University ethics require her to shun such special preferential treatment and accept the full consequence including the points for her actual speeding violation? Her insurance should go up as she was driving 67 in a 45. She was driving too fast. Why did she get a pass?

  • James

    Imani Perry I am most certain will be gone from PU for good end of u yr.

  • Martha Friend

    I certainly won’t try to change your thinking, Ms. Bierman, but will speak up if I think your comments have crossed a line and become simply rude- which I’ve done. Your statement above about feeling “fed up and bored” when hearing others speak of micro aggressions reinforces my own commitment to be a better listener. I leave you to live your life and see the world as feels comfortable.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    It it might get trendy.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    Good for you. I won’t go. On the other hand, I am getting a little fed up and bored hearing about safe places, microagressions and feelings being hurt. Well, that is just I, and I assumed that even you not agreeing and being disgusted at my words, could not do much trying to change my thinking that I believe it is more analytical and progressive because when we call things with their names and when we understand what is all about, is when we really can make changes. Enjoy the speakers.

  • FreshAir

    Totally understood. Sitting ducks in our stopped car when we were struck by a bad driver, our insurance increased. Our total innocence was noted by the PD and there was NO ticket issued to my kid who was behind the wheel, stopped at a stop sign. The system is so broken. Sorry your wallet was stripped like ours!

  • Martha Friend

    I am grateful that Labyrinth Books can see the larger issues at play besides a differing opinion about this one situation. I guess at the very least there might be conversations happening about racial bias that didn’t happen before Ms. Perry’s arrest. I look forward to hearing all three speakers on Thursday.

  • Martha Friend

    I think Ms. Bierman’s phrase, “pull an ‘Imani'” was completely offensive.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    I have exercised free speech, this is my opinion and you don’t have to agree as I do not agree with yours, calling me lost. I think that she received special treatment that I hope we all receive in the future, if we incur in any traffic violation; though, I doubt, because speed limits, valid driver’s license, stop at red and yellow lights, etc are I important to me and I follow them. I think that professor Perry did a disservice to the cause of racism and police harassment and I think I am correct. I don’t understand how Labyrinth Books still have her for the March 10th event but it is not my business; I don’t understand how come she doesn’t recuse herself of attending it, and that is also my opinion; and my opinion is that with her rants in social media she ignored facts, went after honest, professional policemen and created an unnecessary stir, manufactured controversy, trivialized the problem for her own social media PR.

  • Which part of @sandrajbierman:disqus ‘s comment was offensive? Did she use offensive language? I would be careful, @marthafriend:disqus not to accuse people of actions not in evidence.

  • NJgrub

    Why did Imani Perry need an entourage to accompany her to Princeton Municipal Court? Did she expect her race not to be incidental to her treatment in court? The downgrading of her violations by the prosecutor is now a precedence that all other less privilege violators should expect to receive. Princeton residents are still waiting for an apology from Imani Perry and Princeton U for their false accusations against the Princeton PD and Officers.

  • FreshAir

    A very wealthy person in this town hit our family car head on while we were sitting fully stopped, in broad daylight, at a stop sign in a clearly marked intersection. The errant driver was completely dazed and out of it, and almost failed to stop even after impact. He just wanted to drive away after plowing into us. The officer was very kind to us, realized the situation, and gave the errant driver ticket for reckless driving. With all the money and time in the world, the wealthy offender went to court with an attorney and plead down the charge. This happens all the time. What really hurts is that one of my kids was behind the wheel, and that young driver will forever have a record of an accident on the driving record that determines insurance rate. Imagine a young person who is a good driver paying more every year for sitting still at a stop sign. It is very hard to explain our wacky legal system to young people! But, basically, the attorneys and courts make a lot with plea-downs. It seems more about income for the system than right, wrong, or degree of threat.

  • Betterwould

    Interesting point (reminding us of the class aspect of th case). The original racial hint seems to have evaporated with the objective evidence so one of the intersectional factors we are left with is class, (gender doesn’t seem to be a factor) and here we have a financially privileged person(an experienced Princeton prof makes way north of $100k per year) choosing to work the system with available resources to gain advantage. Seems natural, yes, but also seems to point to how complicated things can be by the time all the chickens come home to roost.

  • Disgruntled

    You can if you can afford legal representation. Only ticket I’ve ever received was a 2-pointer, in Princeton. So convinced was I that I was blameless, I went to court on my own, being relatively young and poor. Judge reduced fine a little, but those 2 points effectively doubled my insurance for 3 years. Three very, very impoverished years. Now I’m even more bitter!

  • Martha Friend

    I would be careful, Ms. Bierman, with your offensive comments. Take a survey of the number of folks who have had speeding or other motor vehicle offenses reduced- it’s not that unheard of so please table your “pull an Imani.” You are lost in the weeds of this issue and missing the larger societal context.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    What a disappointment, Reed Gusciora. More power to the offender. Let’s all remember this when we get a parking or a speeding ticket or when we drive with a suspended license, let’s pull an “Imani” and let the chaos start.

  • angarone

    it is easier for them to accept a plea than to fight you on something – they almost always accept a plea- I’ve plead down a ticket I got in a work zone ( I thought the work zone had ended but was mistaken) – I plead it down to avoid points. But I agree with you – i can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stopped for speeding and the officer gives me a ticket for something else, like having a sticker in the window – they think they are being nice, but I would rather get he ticket I deserve. ( I haven’t been stopped in years, so please, no haters).

  • SFB

    Not surprising she got treated so favorably after almost every local politican said she shouldn’t even have been arrested in the first place. The prosecutor, Reed Gusciora, just sent a strong message that dangerous driving is not a big deal. Too bad for people walking and cycling, who are threatened by dangerous drivers like Dr Perry on a daily basis.

  • Betterwould

    Confused. When is a number not what it is? How is 67 mph the same as 49 mph, and does this happen for all speeders ticketed? This is good for public safety on a road with pedestrians and bikers? For my ticket, the speed stayed the speed. Lawyers in town, please help – – can one make a plea deal of some sort for speeding? Thanks.

  • Blake Cash

    She seems to be an expert on the subject of “Race and Democracy in the U.S.:Black Thought in the Hour of Chaos,” it has served her well.

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