Ruling: Traffic Camera System Unconstitutional

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CLEVELAND-- Judges with the 8th District Court of Appeals in Cleveland have ruled that the city's red light and speeding camera system is unconstitutional.

The ruling comes from a case filed by a driver from Columbus who was issued a citation in 2007, paid his fine, then later challenged the city's ordinance.

His attorney claimed with the way the ordinance is written anyone who gets a citation from a red light or speed enforcement camera has to go to a hearing officer to argue their case, which violates the state constitution.

Attorney Andrew Mayle argued Ohio's constitution gives everyone who violates a local ordinance the opportunity to take their case to municipal court.

"The traffic camera ordinance is an ordinance in Cleveland but the council has said we're not going to let you have your day in the Cleveland Municipal Court," Mayle told FOX 8, adding, "That's unconstitutional because it's not up to city council to decide whether people get their day in court or not, so that's what makes it unconstitutional; it's under the Ohio constitution."

In its opinion, the appeals court wrote "...the power to adjudicate civil violations of moving traffic laws lies solely in municipal court."

Mayle believes that renders any ticket issued because of a camera violation invalid.

He also believes the city would have difficulty prosecuting every camera violation if they were challenged under the law.

"They would not be able to prove their case under normal court rules because first of all it would be somewhat impractical for them to bring someone to testify that 'yes on this date we calibrated this properly' and so forth and to say 'yes this is the vehicle we captured on camera,'" said Mayle.

"They would need a human being to do all that and then the defendant would get to cross examine that person. The defendant would get some discovery, maybe take depositions, get records on the calibraton and it just would not work. Cleveland's program could not go forward under those conditions; I just do not think so," said Mayle.

The City of Cleveland issued a statement on Friday saying: "The Ohio Supreme Court has previously ruled that Cleveland's automated enforcement program is constitutional.

Given Thursday's 8th District Court of Appeals opinion that the portion of the city's ordinance relating to the appeals process is unconstitutional, the City is evaluating its options and is in the process of determining next steps.

Appeals are suspended and not being heard at this time while the City continues its review.

Citizens who have questions surrounding paying violations they received through the traffic camera enforcement program should consult their personal attorney."

Read more on traffic cameras.

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