Flo … the Next Johnnie Cochran (GLR)
As I slowed my Civic to what felt like a reasonably gentle stop, the Snapshot device plugged into the car's diagnostic computer emitted its ominous series of beeps. "Are you &@#$!*% kidding me? Come on!," I grumbled. For the unacquainted, Progressive Casualty Insurance Company offers customers the opportunity to earn a discount on automobile insurance policies by enrolling in its Snapshot program. The company sends you a small device which plugs in to your car's diagnostic port and collects driving data. Progressive monitors "hard stops" and driving distances for insurance purposes. Additional data is collected for purportedly benign purposes, and is not supposed to affect coverage. Check out this helpful article reviewing the particulars of the program if you're curious.
Surely no one is more grateful for the Progressive Snapshot device than Ohio resident Michael Beard. In 2012, Beard was charged with the murder of his 7-month-old daughter, Lynniah. Beard maintained that he visited the residence of his ex-girlfriend after working third shift and found Lynniah in her swing, not breathing. When initially questioned by police, Beard repeatedly said he found the baby in her car seat instead of her swing. This discrepancy aroused suspicions about Beard's proffered version of events. At trial, prosecutors alleged that Beard suffocated Lynniah in an attempt to make her cry and wake her sleeping mother after the woman refused him sex.
In his defense, Beard's counsel theorized that Lynniah suffocated because she hunched forward in her swing in an awkward position, cutting off her air supply. Born prematurely, the infant lagged in achieving developmental milestones such as holding her head up. At the time of the incident, she was also suffering from a double ear infection.
Following Beard's indictment, a friend was working on his car and noticed the long-forgotten Progressive Snapspot device still plugged in. Records from the device conveyed that Beard had turned off his car at 4:44 a.m. on the morning in question, then started the car back up a mere 3 minutes later. According to Beard, this brief timespan was just long enough for him to enter the residence, find Lynniah unresponsive in her swing, and return to the car to rush the baby to the hospital. The Snapshot device confirmed that Beard's car was restarted at 4:47 a.m. This key piece of evidence helped create reasonable doubt in his case. Following a jury trial, Beard was acquitted of Lynniah's murder.
So the moral of the story, fellow attorneys and other readers, is to always think outside the box. This innovative use of Progressive's Snapshot device allowed an innocent man to walk free. For that, I commend the Snapshot device. Still cannot wait to be rid of it, though!
Tune in to Notes from the Mulligan Bench in July 2017 to see the fate of my Progressive automobile insurance rate following the 6-month Snapshot period. Fingers crossed.
Thanks for reading.