Ohio Supreme Court May Reconsider Traffic Camera Case

By DAN SEWELL | January 2, 2015

The attorney for a motorist who challenged a camera-generated speeding ticket in Toledo asked the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday to reconsider its ruling against him.

The motion contends that the divided court went beyond the state constitution and court precedent in its Dec. 18 decision. The justices ruled 4-3 to uphold Ohio cities’ authority to use cameras to catch speeders and red light-runners and to handle drivers’ appeals with administrative procedures.

Andrew Mayle, an attorney from Fremont, said that the state’s high court should reconsider its ruling, a rare move but one he says is warranted because its split decision “incorrectly allows city councils to exercise an awesome, sweeping power.”

A message was left Monday for Toledo’s law director.

Justice Sharon Kennedy wrote for the majority that the court reaffirmed that Ohio’s constitution grants “municipalities the authority to protect the safety and well-being of their citizens by establishing automated systems for imposing civil liability on traffic-law violators.” She repeatedly cited a 2008 Supreme Court ruling upholding traffic camera use by the city of Akron under local “home-rule” authority that Ohio municipalities have.

Justice William O’Neill wrote in dissent that the Toledo case wasn’t about home rule, but about courts being usurped.

Mayle said the ruling took motorist Bradley Walker’s right to go before a judge and “outsourced” it to a local political appointee.

“Just as fine wine could never complement a steak that is taken away before the first bite, the General Assembly set the table for (Bradley) Walker to defend himself in municipal court and Toledo city council took away his day in municipal court,” the motion contended.

Walker, a Paducah, Kentucky, businessman, was ticketed in Toledo for speeding in 2009 and paid a $120 fine before deciding to sue. Toledo’s camera vendor and co-defendant, Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix, Arizona, said it has operated camera systems in Ohio for more than a decade and believes it has helped public safety.

Camera advocates say they free up police for other crime fighting and make communities safer. Foes contend they are meant to raise revenues.

Meanwhile, officials in some cities are considering a legal challenge to a recently signed Ohio law to require a police officer to be present when camera enforcement is used.

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