Carla Quirk's attorney says she's fighting her hit and run ticket

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Nick Crow
Thursday, April 2, 2015

JANESVILLE — The attorney for Janesville School Board candidate Carla Quirk said there's no way his client could have hit her neighbor's car, and he plans to prove it in court.

"I heard for weeks that Carla had terrible legal problems that would force her to drop out," attorney Roger Merry said. "There is nothing out there to cause anyone to drop out."

According to a Janesville police report, Quirk was involved in a traffic accident with a neighbor's parked car March 1. Quirk told an officer she thought someone had hit her Chevy Avalanche while she was shopping at Woodman's. She later told police her vehicle "slid into" the neighbor's truck parked on the street outside her home after the officer told her it "could become a criminal case", according to the police report. She told the officer she "did not feel anything and did not necessarily hear anything, either, as she claimed she had some hearing impairment," the report reads.

Quirk later told The Gazette she hadn't intended to mislead police.

"She didn't believe she hit it, but then they hounded her," Merry said. "If she was lying to a cop, the cop would accuse her of that. (It was a) hit that didn't happen, and we don't even have an accusation that she lied and misled. We will dispute all of the facts in court with evidence."

Quirk was cited for hit and run and driving too fast for conditions. Merry said he submitted paperwork to the court with pleas of "not guilty" on her behalf Thursday.

"When I had my own expert look at the collision, the expert said there's no way there could have been a collision with those two vehicles," Merry said.

"The other car couldn't do the damage like Carla has," he said. "If you hit that other vehicle, the bumper would have bent in and not sprung back into position."

The police report indicates the front bumper of Quirk's vehicle was "pushed in."

Quirk told The Gazette earlier that she "didn't realize I had hit that car, but when I get back from my second job and I came in, the officer said there was obviously something fresh that had happened, then it's like, OK, I really did."

Merry, who is also Quirk's campaign treasurer, said the officer who wrote the report isn't qualified to reconstruct an accident and was drawing conclusions.

"An officer is insisting you did this," Merry said. "And you think, 'I don't think I did, but I apologize.'"

"Carla is the one that called it in," he said. "If your bumper was pushed in, you would need a police report for insurance. She thought someone backed into her or bumped into her."

The Gazette was not able to reach the Janesville Police Department for comment before deadline.

Merry said it's unfortunate a traffic violation has become a political issue.

"We weren't going to contest it, but then it became such a major legal issue that we decided to," Merry said.

A campaign should be an open and honest debate of ideas, values and issues, Merry said.

"I consider the whisper campaign a real foul against American democracy," he said. "No matter how much you like or hate a candidate, this is inappropriate in any election."

Quirk, along with school board president Greg Ardrey appear on Tuesday's ballot. Incumbent David DiStefano and challengers Steve Huth and Julieta Henry have registered as write-in candidates for the three open seats on the board.

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