Residents, businesses sue village over traffic cameras

Lawsuit claims New Miami, Ohio, uses cameras to create speed trap
Associated Press
Jul 24, 2013

A lawsuit alleging that traffic cameras used to trap speeders are unconstitutional has been filed against a southwest Ohio village just months after a judge ordered similar cameras removed in another village in the state.

The lawsuit filed recently in Butler County Common Pleas Court in Hamilton against New Miami by four area residents and businesses alleges the village's camera ordinance violates the constitutional right to due process.

The lawsuit was filed against the village, about 20 miles north of Cincinnati, and New Miami police Chief Kenneth Cheek. It seeks a judgment that the ordinance is invalid and should not be enforced. The lawsuit also seeks restitution of all penalties, fees and other charges paid by those filing the suit. In addition, it seeks class-action status, which would allow others who have been ticketed from the cameras to join the lawsuit.

Dennis Adams, the village's attorney, and Cheek said Tuesday that they had not seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment. But Cheek said the cameras have greatly reduced speeding in the village, with violations decreasing from about 250 to 400 per day to about 60 to 70 a day.

A Hamilton County judge in Cincinnati earlier this year struck down the use of traffic cameras in the village of Elmwood Place, saying their use violated due process.

The lawsuit against New Miami says the ordinance violates due process by not providing an opportunity for those who receive a ticket "to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner" and permits a person to be held liable based on hearsay evidence. The police officer who reviews the recorded images does not have any firsthand knowledge of the violation, and the ordinance assumes that the owner of the motor vehicle was operating it at the time of the alleged violation, the lawsuit also states.

Charlie H. Rittgers, the attorney representing those filing the lawsuit, said Tuesday that motorists have no way to contest the camera's accuracy.

"There is no mechanism in the ordinance to allow citizens allegedly speeding to present a legitimate defense," he said.

He said the lawsuit is almost identical to the one in Elmwood Place, which used the same camera company.

Cheek said Tuesday that the village did not consult Elmwood Place's speed ordinance. He said previously that the cameras along U.S. 127 had recorded more than 12,000 violations since they were installed in October 2012, and fines totaling $210,000 had been collected by the end of last year, according to the Hamilton Journal News.

There have been a growing number of challenges to the use of traffic cameras for enforcement in Ohio and across the country. Ohio Supreme Court and other courts in the state have ruled in other cases that Ohio cities have been within the law in using cameras for enforcement.

 

 

Comments

registerer

So, what they are saying is that it is ok to break the law. Why have laws?

Nemesis

No,.Registerer, they are not saying it's OK to break the law; they are saying that the government is limited in how it may enforce the law. You're missing a central point regarding what the USA is all about. Our justice system is not designed to catch and punish everyone who breaks the law; it is designed to make sure the incredible power of government is not abused in the name of "law & order." To this end, we have a set of Constitutional limitations that set the bar rather high in order for government to impose sanctions on people for breaking the law. We place a heavy burden on government to prove its case, and constrain the ways it may obtain evidence, and when there's any doubt, its benefit goes to the defendant. That's why George Zimmerman, OJ Simpson, and Casey Anthony were acquitted of crimes far more serious than speeding. The Founders designed it this way, holding that it is better for 10 guilty men to go free if the alternative is for one innocent man to hang.

Using these cameras does not meet the requirements of this system. It's also been shown that they are not meant to, or effective for improving safety, but rather, were installed to make money. Law enforcement for profit is unethical and problematic in a free country.
Finally, as
an engineer with extensive experience designing systems that use similar technology, I can tell you that the majority of these cameras, while very reliable for discerning red light violations, cannot be trusted to measure speed accurately, and I've gotten such a citation dismissed on that basis. You can check out many of the camera-equipped intersections in Cleveland - , it's possible to false trigger them by stopping very hard and late, but properly behind the line at the red light. For red light violations, a manual review of the photos will prevent an actual citation, but the same flaw leads to many false speeding tickets.

Peninsula Pundit

Maybe to the extent that you are able to comprehend, they are saying it is OK to break the law.
But to the rest of us, that's not it at all.
You would want to ticket a guy for left of center, even if the reason was he was swerving to avoid a pedestrian.
Perhaps you should labor to study even the basic precepts of American Law, starting with 'It is better for 100 guilty to go free than 1 innocent to be jailed'.
That's getting to be a pretty unpopular sentiment these days, it seems.
Ticket 100. Who cares if 10 are innocent?
That's what these cameras and your quip represent.
I sure hope this trend does not continue.
Wake Up, America.

Simple Enough II

Thank you!

registerer

Maybe you should comprehend that we are not talking about a person going left of center. These particular cameras are for speeding. If you get a ticket you have the right to go to court and defend yourself. If these cameras slow down just one person so they avoid a collision that could result in death would be ok to me.

Erie County Resident

@ the registerer, are you really this daff?
My vehicle was shot with one of these "cameras" in Cleveland while I was at the Cleveland Clinic to the tune of $160.
I appealed it with my evidence and they say I still had to pay.
My proof you may ask.
Appointment times and statement from Dr. that I was there.
This while valet parking was using my vehicle for persomal use.
But let's not let facts get in your way of guilty until proven innocent crap!!!

Simple Enough II

No Sheeit?! Pretty sad, but hey the bastids are never wrong!

Mr. D

No registerer. . . They are saying the ordinance is unconstitutional because it denies citizens their right to "due process". Please read the Constitution over a few times so you know and understand peoples rights, hopefully you will stop making yourself appear totally ignorant.