The

Carpool Guy

Challenging Corporate Personhood

The Legal Argument

The definition of a person under California's State Vehicle Code includes "natural persons" and "corporations." In light of this fact, when a driver is operating his or her vehicle in the carpool lane and sees an official road sign that states "2 or more persons per vehicle" is required to drive in the carpool lane during permitted hours, the driver can’t be expected to define the intent of the legislator. Under California Vehicle Code Section 470, Jonathan Frieman was not the only "person" in the car when he was issued a carpool citation.

CA Vehicle Code 470

 A "'Person' includes a natural person, firm, copartnership, association, limited liability company, or corporation."

(Source: California Vehicle Code Section 470, Amended Ch. 1010, Stats. 1994. Effective January 1, 1995.)

John Frieman Corporate Persoonhood Case

Click here to read the Motion (MPA) that Jon Frieman submitted to the court for his January 7th, 2013 Marin County Superior Court Hearing

Case

Corporations Are Not Persons

On Oct. 2nd, 2012, Jonathan "The Carpool Guy" Frieman was driving in Marin County's carpool lane with legal documents that had incorporated his nonprofit corporation, the JoMiJo Foundation, when he was pulled over by California Highway Patrol and issued a citation for violating California's High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), aka carpool regulations. While Frieman was the only human passenger in the car, California's High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), aka carpool regulations, mandate that "2 or more persons per vehicle" is the requirement for driving in the carpool lane during permitted hours. At the time of the citation on the morning of October 2nd, Mr. Frieman informed the state trooper that he was not in violation of California State Vehicle Code because the nonprofit incorporation papers on the seat next to him (represented by its articles of incorporation) qualified as a "person" under state law. Nonetheless, the state trooper cited Mr. Frieman and instructed him to take it up with the court.

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The Appeal

Jonathan Frieman contested his citation in Marin County Superior Court on January 7th, 2013, stating that, because California's Vehicle Code defines a "person" to not only mean "natural persons" and "corporations," he was was legally qualified to drive in the HOV lane. His reasoning was that there were two persons (as defined by state law) in the car at the time. This was all a part of Frieman's plan--he had been purposefully driving in the carpool lane with a corporation as a passenger for 10 years. He'd never been caught because enforcement is so lax. 

Nevertheless, Frieman was still handed a "guilty" verdict and instructed to pay his $478 fine. Instead, he chose to appeal the Traffic Court's decision to Marin's Superior Court. Frieman and his attorney Ford Greene appealed the verdict to the Marin County Superior Court. In August of 2013, Judge Verna Adams denied the appeal. That decision will be posted as soon as Frieman figures out how to do that on this web site. 

He appealed Adams' decision to the next level up, the California Court of Appeals. The Court also denied the appeal, with no reason given. Without funds, the case was dropped. To this day Frieman still drives in the carpool lane during restricted hours with incorporation papers on his cell phone.

Summary: 

Essentially this is the summary of the case argument.

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