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Federal Court Takes on Photo Enforcement Hearsay Issue

 

California courts are split on the issue of whether US Supreme Court precedent invalidates evidence typically provided by red light cameras. The Court of Appeal, number-two in state's the judicial hierarchy, issued a pair of rulings within a few weeks coming to contradictory conclusions on this question (view case). On Wednesday, US District Judge Josephine Staton Tucker issued the standard order laying down the rules for an upcoming court battle on this issue between motorist Michael Curran and the city of Victorville along with Redflex Traffic Systems (RTS).

Curran filed a class action suit after receiving a citation in the mail that, he argued, violated the Confrontation Clause principles upheld in the 2009 US Supreme Court case Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (view case).

"Plaintiff received his citation after a RTS computer signed the name of an officer (Barbara Hill) to an RTS computer generated 'Notice of Traffic Violation' despite the fact that Officer Barbara Hill did not contemporaneously observe the alleged infraction in California nor on an Arizona computer screen, and caused it to be sent out with a RTS computer-generated proof of service, signed by a RTS computer operator and likely mailed by another RTS bulk mailer-type computer on or about October 4, 2011," Curran's attorney, Robert D. Conaway, wrote wrote in court filings.

http://thenewspaper.com/news/37/3777.asp

Interesting Situation..

Depending upon the outcome, it could be good news for drivers. grin On the other hand.... sad

Nuvi1300WTGPS

--
I'm not really lost.... just temporarily misplaced!

I always thought the idea of

I always thought the idea of ticketing the OWNER of the car instead of identifying and accusing the driver was, oh, I don't know, somehow unconstitutional.

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Re-CAL-culating... "Some people will believe anything they read on the internet" - Abraham Lincoln

different?

How is that any different than a parking summons? A registrant is responsible period.

Unconstitutional?

Camera Evidence

Camera evidence is just that... evidence. The issue here is that no one appeared in court to state that they reviewed the photos or video and were satisfied that traffic laws were violated, and that evidence confirmed the owner of the vehicle. Because this did not happen, the evidence was deemed to be hearsay.

Of course, photos and video evidence is used as evidence in court cases everyday, but such evidence usually requires a person to verify that they were able to observe a criminal action taking place in the photos or videos, and positively identify the perpetrator. The photos or video is NOT the accusor, it is merely evidence, but you must have someone appear in court to testify as to the validity of the evidence.

Some people may claim that photos or video for most traffic camera tickets do not identify the driver, and therefore failed to identify the person who violated the traffic law. But that level of identification is usually not required breaches of public safety laws. Most traffic laws (and many civil laws) are based on ownership responsibility - you are responsible for the actions of your vehicle. The previous post about parking tickets is the most obvious example of ownership responsibility, but the owner of a dog is responsible for the actions of that dog should it bite someone.

So all the prosecution has to do is have a police officer review the photos or video and confirm that a violatio occured, and then testify to that review in court if the ticket is disputed. That would make prosecuting traffic tickets more expensive, but they could address that by requesting costs should the violator be found guilty. That is also a very common practice for all types of court cases.

Unconstitutional

johnnatash4 wrote:

How is that any different than a parking summons? A registrant is responsible period.

Unconstitutional?

I think it is unconstitutional. If a moving violation is watered down to a "parking summons" how is it fair to all the other people that get pulled over by a police officer and charged with the same offense? Either it's a "moving violation" for all, or it's a "parking summons" for all.

The dog did it!

DanielT wrote:

...The previous post about parking tickets is the most obvious example of ownership responsibility, but the owner of a dog is responsible for the actions of that dog should it bite someone.'''

But while the dog itself does the biting, the car doesn't by itself do the parking (or red light running.) So it's a different scenario.

Parking VS Red Light tickets

I am all for anything that prevents accidents. There are many things I don't like about the cameras. Many state legislators deem that RLC fines may not exceed a parking ticket. So the community creates an ordinance of a fine for parking in front of city hall or the driveway of a fire station. They decide that the fine in those cases are $400. Then the RLC fine is set just under that.

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1490LMT 1450LMT 295w

Another Case

twix wrote:

I think it is unconstitutional. If a moving violation is watered down to a "parking summons" how is it fair to all the other people that get pulled over by a police officer and charged with the same offense? Either it's a "moving violation" for all, or it's a "parking summons" for all.

I vaguely recall an article being posted here about a similar issue in Florida over a year ago. If I am recalling the article correctly, a red light runner was ticketed by an officer for running a red light that was monitored by a red light camera. The violator pointed out to the court that there was a double-standard regarding the penalty depending on whether you were caught by the RLC or by a police officer and that the penalties were inconsistent. The court agreed and basically disallowed red light enforcement by the police at intersections that are monitored by cameras.

--
I support the right to keep and arm bears.

Even if it gets overturned

Even if it gets overturned the financial stakes are too high for the RLC companies to not engineer some other way around it. The City of Chicago makes tens of millions every year, and our little runt of a mayor will not take this lying down.

There's still hope. It's not

There's still hope.

It's not fair for regiestered owner of the vehicle to get a RLC fine in the mail with no means of appeal.

All they want is the driver's name.

--
-Chris

Money!

777ER wrote:

There's still hope.

It's not fair for regiestered owner of the vehicle to get a RLC fine in the mail with no means of appeal.

All they want is the driver's name.

All they want is MONEY!

--
Re-CAL-culating... "Some people will believe anything they read on the internet" - Abraham Lincoln

They do not get my money.

I drive past speed cameras and red light cameras almost every day and "They Do Not Get My Money". It is because I DO NOT SPEED OR RUN RED LIGHTS PAST THOSE CAMERAS.
The only people who have money removed from their purse are THOSE THAT BREAK THE LAW. They are voluntarily giving the city their money.

Not Necessarily

kurzemnieks wrote:

I drive past speed cameras and red light cameras almost every day and "They Do Not Get My Money". It is because I DO NOT SPEED OR RUN RED LIGHTS PAST THOSE CAMERAS.
The only people who have money removed from their purse are THOSE THAT BREAK THE LAW. They are voluntarily giving the city their money.

I also do not intentionally speed or run red lights. However, your statement is not completely accurate. There are places where the red lights and speed cameras are intentionally set up to "trap" people who have no intention of violating any law.

There are multiple threads here about independent investigations that have uncovered shortening of the yellow light timing below federal standards after installation of red light cameras.

"Speed traps" are also not uncommon. When I was visiting some friends in another state a couple of years ago, they warned me about a location near them where the speed limit dropped 20 miles an hour immediately after a bend in the road, and a speed camera was located within a few yards of the speed change.

This basic attitude of "soak people from somewhere else" (like you, the locals know about these traps) is nothing unusual - or new. I remember riding with my family as a child in the 1950s when my father suddenly slowed down dramatically. When my mother asked him why, his reply was that he had seen a sign that we were about to enter a small town that he had read about. The income for *the entire budget* of this town came from speeding tickets collected on the busy (pre-Interstate) highway that ran through the town.

Sure enough, a few seconds later we came around a bend and saw a sign that immediately dropped the speed limit from 55 to 25. Sitting 50 feet past the sign was a police car with a radar gun aimed at the cars coming around the bend - which had no way to drop 30 mph in the very short distance available. The car right behind us was pulled over and (presumably) ticketed.

BTW, the police car was an immaculate current year's model of the Oldsmobile 98. Nothing but the best for the source of the revenue for the town's government . . .

With best wishes,
- Tom -

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XXL540, GO LIVE 1535, GO 500

-et-

I mentioned something similar when I was stationed at Scott AFB IL, one of the small town near the base had something similar, they had a 65 mph sign just prior to a 35 mph sign, caught quite a few people, always had a big police presence in the shopping center near by, until some check law and found out the signs were too close together. ended that speed trap really quick.

Rosendale?

-et- wrote:

about to enter a small town that he had read about. The income for *the entire budget* of this town came from speeding tickets collected on the busy (pre-Interstate) highway that ran through the town.

Sounds like Rosendale WI.

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-Quest, Nuvi 1390T

Different State - Similar Scam

ddeerrff wrote:
-et- wrote:

about to enter a small town that he had read about. The income for *the entire budget* of this town came from speeding tickets collected on the busy (pre-Interstate) highway that ran through the town.

Sounds like Rosendale WI.

Nope, it was a small town in the eastern part of West Virginia - the name of which I do not recall after all these years.

With best wishes,
- Tom -

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XXL540, GO LIVE 1535, GO 500

I love reading all the legal

I love reading all the legal arguments. Most are totally valid and also totally irrelevent. If the fine was community service and not cash, these cameras would not exist.

Common Traps

-et- wrote:
ddeerrff wrote:
-et- wrote:

about to enter a small town that he had read about. The income for *the entire budget* of this town came from speeding tickets collected on the busy (pre-Interstate) highway that ran through the town.

Sounds like Rosendale WI.

Nope, it was a small town in the eastern part of West Virginia - the name of which I do not recall after all these years.

Not just West Virginia - those sort of speed traps used to be really common. You can find them in N/S Carolinas as well as Michigan.

--
Re-CAL-culating... "Some people will believe anything they read on the internet" - Abraham Lincoln

We had one like that

We had a town here in Ohio on US Rt 40 about 10 years ago called New Rome which received all their income from ticket revenue. It was so bad the state actually wrote a law that got rid of it in a round about way. The law stated that to be incorporated, a town must meet at least 3 items in a list of services they gave their citizens. Things like police enforcement, trash removal, snow removal, etc. They couldn't meet it and the representatives who wrote it specifically with New Rome in mind knew they couldn't when it was written.
Their enforcement was all done in person though. If I remember correctly they had something like 25 regular and aux officers for a 12 acre town town so they could have at least one or two officers on every shift. At one point the State Highway Patrol banned them from using the system they had to check licence plates because of abuse of the system. It was typical for them to check the plate of 25% of the cars which drove through the town just to try and find something wrong, and that is on a 4 lane highway. I'd hate to think what it would have been like if they had speed, red light and licence plate cameras.
To learn more about New Rome you can visit the old "New Rome Sucks" website at http://www.newromesucks.com/main.html

--
Live every day like it's your last. Some day you'll be right - Benny Hill

Thats a good point

If this is a safety issue and educating people to not speed, run redlights, why do they not offer Community Service as an option to the fine?

--
Cain versus Unable 2012

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