By on July 31, 2009

Red light camera and speed camera manufacturers fear that last month’s US Supreme Court ruling in the case Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts could create legal turmoil for the industry. The National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running issued a statement yesterday warning that the ruling has armed motorists with a greater ability to challenge the basis of automated traffic citations. Speed cameras, for example, depend heavily on legal faith in a certificate that claims to confirm the total reliability of a machine’s speed reading. In the Melendez-Diaz case, the high court ruled that merely producing such a certificate in court is insufficient. Defendants have the right to cross-examine any individual who claims to have certified evidence.

“Violators often object that they cannot challenge their accuser if it is a camera,” Leslie Blakey, executive director of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running said. “This new ruling may spur more court cases and lawsuits on the basis of the right to challenge the human elements of the evidentiary chain.”

Blakey is principal of the Blakey and Agnew public relations firm that five of the top photo enforcement companies — Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), CMA Consulting, Gatso of the Netherlands, Lasercraft of the UK and Redflex of Australia — paid to create the National Campaign to lobby on their behalf. Each of these firms could face a tremendous challenge if their methods are brought into closer scrutiny, although Blakey believes that this constitutional protections may not apply in states where photo tickets have been made “civil” violations.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in Melendez-Diaz, a 5-4 case that dealt with a laboratory analysis of drug evidence. The defendant argued that he had a right to question the lab worker who signed a piece of paper that certified the substance he had been carrying was cocaine. The majority agreed that despite the possible hassle involved in confirming each fact at trial, it is essential to the integrity of the court system that questioning of the evidence be allowed.

“The ‘certificates’ are functionally identical to live, in-court testimony, doing precisely what a witness does on direct examination,” Scalia wrote. “Respondent and the dissent may be right that there are other ways — and in some cases better ways — to challenge or verify the results of a forensic test. But the Constitution guarantees one way: confrontation. We do not have license to suspend the Confrontation Clause when a preferable trial strategy is available.”

Scalia further argued that the ability to confront witnesses is essential to ensuring that the potential for bias or error in scientific testing is uncovered.

“Nor is it evident that what respondent calls ‘neutral scientific testing’ is as neutral or as reliable as respondent suggests,” Scalia wrote. “Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation…. And because forensic scientists often are driven in their work by a need to answer a particular question related to the issues of a particular case, they sometimes face pressure to sacrifice appropriate methodology for the sake of expediency. A forensic analyst responding to a request from a law enforcement official may feel pressure — or have an incentive — to alter the evidence in a manner favorable to the prosecution… the prospect of confrontation will deter fraudulent analysis in the first place.”

These concerns are especially apt with respect to the photo enforcement industry. In April, for example, lawmakers in France began to raise questions after learning that the private, for-profit company that operates the speed cameras, Sagem, is solely responsible for calibrating the units and certifying their accuracy. The situation is the same in the US, where companies that are in most cases paid on a per-ticket basis, are solely responsible for determining the accuracy of their own machines.

Under the ruling, it becomes the burden of the state or local authority to ensure photo enforcement company employees show up to testify in court. Failure to testify would result in the evidence being excluded and a likely acquittal.

“We’re concerned about the potential impact of this ruling on photo enforcement programs across the country,” Blakey said. “We don’t want to see anything jeopardize the public safety benefit of automated enforcement.”

A copy of the supreme court decision is available in a 350k PDF file at the source link below.

PDF File Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (Supreme Court of the United States, 6/25/2009)

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32 Comments on “US Supreme Court Threatens Speed Camera Industry...”


  • avatar

    OK. How/what do you question? The lint trap between my ears recalls that, perhaps in the early days of radar guns, some units came with a tuning fork that was used in a specific manner to test/calibrate the unit. How are photo radar units calibrated? How often are they recalibrated…manufacturers’ specs and real-world experience? It’s conceivable that one could make a unit that would self-test reliably. In the course of running these units in production, it’s likely that any error messages end up in the bit bucket.
    Just like there are guides for how to handle a police person, what to do in traffic court, etc., are there any guidelines, suggestions for how and what challenges to make.
    Then there’s the street urchin counter-measure: in Britain, the kids tie a string to a can and whirl it around, resulting in a lot of radar photos of a grinning kid with can exceeding the speed limit. Worked better with film cameras….

  • avatar
    Stingray

    “We don’t want to see anything jeopardize the profit benefit of automated enforcement.”

    Fixed.

    the private, for-profit company that operates the speed cameras… is solely responsible for calibrating the units and certifying their accuracy

    O sea, se pagan y se dan el vuelto? Translated: they pay to themselves and they give the change back to themselves?

    Does the government authorities who approved this kind of enforcement audit the calibration of the systems?

    Why it is only a private company doing that? Why it’s allowed to do it? and…

    Why people HAVE to pay a fine without questioning?

  • avatar
    RichardD

    Does the government authorities who approved this kind of enforcement audit the calibration of the systems?

    Absolutely not. At least with radar the cops go through the phony song and dance about calibrating with a tuning fork.

    This does not apply to cameras because (in the US), no police officer ever touches the camera. The cameras are 100% owned and operated by private companies. Even in Illinois where the state police do drive the scamera van around, the radar itself is fully automated; Redflex doesn’t want some untrained state cop fooling with their $100,000 machine. See the Buckels court deposition:
    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/23/2371.asp

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Absolutely not. At least with radar the cops go through the phony song and dance about calibrating with a tuning fork.

    This does not apply to cameras because (in the US), no police officer ever touches the camera. The cameras are 100% owned and operated by private companies.

    These are important points. I think we have the opportunity, with red-light and speed cameras, to have a better system than the Defendent-Versus-Officer-Jones one we have now. Having been on the wrong side of a lying traffic cop in court, I’d take a camera eight days of the week.

    A fully logged, auditable, open system is far more transparent the a cop with overtime and easy duty on his mind, backed by an oversight committee more concerned with revenue than safety. Like voting machines, cameras can eliminate the human factors of malice and/or incompetence provided we’re judicious about thier use.

    Keep the cameras, but force them to be audited and ensure the code and operation is inspectable.

  • avatar
    texlovera

    Stingray: +1. You read my mind.

  • avatar

    A: Do we have any proof whatsoever that red light and speed cameras have a positive impact on the accident rate?

    B: Why would we let them be operated by private companies at a profit?

    C: Do we really want “for profit” police “protection”?

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    Melendez-Diaz has already caused a few DUIs to be dismissed here in Virginia, because the cops who performed the test weren’t available for the trial. (And good, I say; confrontations is important.)

    It was only a 5-4 decision, with a Scalia, Thomas, Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter majority that’s been surprisingly common in a few defendents’ rights cases. No word yet on how Sotomayor, a former prosecutor, will rule if the case comes back up. (And it will, as the Court granted cert to a follow on case for fall, something that takes four justices voting to do so.)

    Several prosecutors (and Justice Kennedy) warned that the sky would fall because of this case. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), also a former prosecutor, sought assurances that Judge Sotomayor would overturn this decision after she replaces Justice Souter.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    Do we really want “for profit” police “protection”?

    I don’t like the cameras either, but if you think that regular old cops with radar guns isn’t “for profit” police “protection” you’re pretty naive. Just because there’s no private company involved doesn’t mean it isn’t for profit– and don’t forget that the reason that police departments and city and county governments sign on to these camera deals is for the revenue anyway.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I’m no attorney, but it seems that the supreme court has made two points:

    1. You have a constitutional right to confront your accuser in court.

    2. Since you cannot confront a camera in court, you are allowed to confront the person responsible for the accuracy of the camera.

    This seems entirely reasonable, and it goes to the crux of automated law enforcement. The court has essentially said that automated law enforcement can be used, but it must be “backed-up” by a human that can go to court to vouch for the system.

    Imagine thousands of tickets handed out by cameras, now many of them will require the presence of a human in a court of law to prosecute. This ruling will make automated law enforcement very expensive.

    Law enforcement agencies may just forgo the automated enforcement and go back to regular law enforcement officers doing their jobs.

    One can hope…

    -ted

  • avatar
    wsn

    Well, it’s really not that hard to audit these speed cameras. Instead of a white box method, use a black box method.

    Just hire an independent for-profit company that has a professional driver that drives an under-covered car, slightly below the threshold of being photoed. Over and over. The company will be paid on a case by case basis, if it can prove that the speed camera is not functioned as claimed to the disadvantage of drivers.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    As an IT guy, I will never support automated law-enforcement. There are just too many ways to game the system. Logs can be doctored, code can be written with back doors, communication channels can be compromised, the list goes on and on.

    That is not to say that non-automated law enforcement is necessarily better, but the “efficiency improvment” that comes from automation has the potential to cause the volume of abuse to skyrocket.

    I have to say that Justice Scalia is right on the money on this issue.

  • avatar

    Psarhjinian makes a very important point. I have also been on the opposite side from a lying cop, although luckily, in that case, I had hired a good lawyer, and if anyone ever needs a good lawyer for a moving violation on Cape Cod, I’ll be happy to dig up this guy’s name and contact info.

    The flip side is that the authorities so often basically set traps with the cameras, putting them where the speed limit suddenly is reduced from 55 to 35, etc. and that the speed limits so often are too low, and when enforcement is by police, there is usually a de facto speed limit that allows for reasonable speeds.

    And bunkie (directly above) makes a very interesting point.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    As an IT guy, I will never support automated law-enforcement. There are just too many ways to game the system. Logs can be doctored, code can be written with back doors, communication channels can be compromised, the list goes on and on.

    Here’s a scenario for you:

    Judge (winking): Officer Jones, did the defendant stop his/her vehicle before or over the line?

    Officer Jones (crossing fingers behind back): Over the white line at the intersection

    Defendant (sotto voce): What the f!?

    At present, in the way the traffic legal system works out, you have no hope, cameras or not, because it’s your word against a police officer on a trivial charge.

    At least a camera can have the option of secure logging. As an IT guy, you should know that there are all sorts of ways you ensure against tampering, from tripwire systems to cryptographic signing to external or WORM data stores; heck even the code can be made publicly-available and thusly independently vetted**. With you and the officer you have nothing unless you’re video-recording your every move.

    The problem is not the camera; the problem is that we’re handing control of the camera to parties with interests that do no align with the publics and providing no oversight. Just eliminating the camera but leaving the revenue-driven enforcement structure in place does nothing, and it’s much easier to enforce a camera to behave than a crooked officer or bureaucrat.

    ** this same discussion is happening around voting machines. The same people are arguing for openness (actual citizens) and against it (politicians, the manufacturers).

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’m no fan of Scalia, but he’s absolutely right about this. The ability to confront one’s accuser is a basic constitutional right, and using technology as some sort of excuse to violate that right doesn’t pass a basic sniff test.

    Local agencies have gone out of their way to infringe upon that right (for obvious reasons.) Hopefully, the standard in this case would be applied to cameras, as they should be.

    (On a side note, the 5-4 vote of the court was not split along the usual right-left lines. It will be interesting to read the opinion to see what happened here.)

  • avatar
    RichardD

    psarhjinian

    The problem with your argument is that you’re trading one bad cop who can falsely trap maybe ten drivers a day for a rigged system that traps 2-3 thousand people a day.

    Secure IT logs aren’t going to make a single bit of difference when (a) the yellow is shortened on the red lights or (b) the speed limit is set below the proper speed, improperly signed, or the signs are hidden. You can’t say in a “judiciously” set up camera program because there is no such thing. They are always, always, always set up as traps. Always.

    Are your unbreakable encryption methods as secure as Windows 7 activation and BluRay discs? It took about 1 day for each of those to get broken.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The problem with your argument is that you’re trading one bad cop who can falsely trap maybe ten drivers a day for a rigged system that traps 2-3 thousand people a day.

    A cop can catch more than ten drivers a day. Read up on New Rome, Ohio: what the town did was done without the assistance of cameras.

    Secure IT logs aren’t going to make a single bit of difference when (a) the yellow is shortened on the red lights or (b) the speed limit is set below the proper speed, improperly signed, or the signs are hidden.

    And that’s true, but the avenue for addressing those concerns is dealing with city council and planning departments. Just as when a street lacks a needed stoplight, traffic planning problems are not something you go to court to address.

    You can’t say in a “judiciously” set up camera program because there is no such thing. They are always, always, always set up as traps. Always.

    Again, that’s not a technology problem, that’s a problem with enforcement culture. Consistent enforcement seems to be a missing concept in North American traffic law; instead, we “blitz” and cherrypick offenses that are easy to generate revenue from.

    And it works so very, very badly because people don’t know what the rules are. Some days they can speed. Some days the yellows are long, some not. Sometimes there’s a cruiser parked behind the sign, sometimes not. Try parenting a toddler with that kind of inconsistency and see what it gets you. Hint: it’s worse than having no rules at all.

    If you wanted to keep people from speeding, you put up well-signed cameras (or dummies) along the routes you wish to enforce. If you wanted them not to run red lights, you’d increase the yellow and put up cameras and sign the camera’s existence.

    The cameras are not the problem; the enforcement culture is. Remove the cameras and replace them with cops in cruisers and not only do you have to pay someone to sit there, you also lose the objectivity and traceability that the machine can offer. It’s all well and good to talk about “the right to face your accuser”, but the accuser can lie and there’s nothing you can do since the evidence is not there; a machine and system that’s been properly vetted keeps a record by default and cannot be trivially faked.

    Are your unbreakable encryption methods as secure as Windows 7 activation and BluRay discs? It took about 1 day for each of those to get broken.

    Do you know how a WORM drive works? Or how hard it is to crack or, even more difficult, fake encrypted files when you don’t have a decryption key? There’s a world of difference between WPA and BlueRay, which depend on lots of people viewing them, and a PKI-signed video stream on a WORM drive that you cannot alter without faking the entire video stream and is the domain of a smaller group.

    Setting up a system like this that’s tamper-proof and open is trivial; the only reason it isn’t happening is because government doesn’t want it to.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Where are the posters who always say “if you don’t speed/run the light, you won’t have a problem”?

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    I can’t quite tell for sure, but it looks as though Valeo’s “Guideo” aftermarket driver-assistance system may have “fight camera with camera” utility. The literature says its “video box” function is activated automagically by a sudden jarring force (from a crash) and can also be activated manually by pushing a button, to capture a retrospective 20-second video clip. I can’t tell whether speed is recorded on the video clip, though perhaps it could help Awficur Jones, ah, refresh his recollection of exactly where the defendant stopped his car.

  • avatar
    RichardD

    The cameras are not the problem; the enforcement culture is.

    Bingo. You are not changing enforcement culture, you are empowering the same Officer Liar to trap at a rate far beyond New Rome’s wildest imagination. The only difference is that Officer Liar has turned in his badge to become a highly paid Redflex employee.

    Your presumption is that somehow cameras stop lying. The opposite is true. Here’s a link to a catalog of all sorts of error, some of the machine, some of the idiots who set up the machine. In most of these cases your logs would come up a-ok, so all the CIA-level security precautions — which would never be implemented — wouldn’t make a bit of difference.
    http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/related.asp?S=16

    In one of the recent cases, the police chief was caught log tampering. Who holds the encyryption keys?

  • avatar
    bunkie

    “…heck even the code can be made publicly-available and thusly independently vetted**”

    And what’s to guarantee that the publicly-vetted code is the code that’s running at the time you get ticketed? Nothing, that’s what. That’s why I’m against electronic voting as well. The supposed benefit is far outweighed by the risk.

    I’m a firm believer in the idea that it’s the responsibility of the state to *prove* beyond reasonable doubt that you are guilty of whatever your are charged with. Real justice (the protection of the innocent) absolutely depends upon this.

  • avatar
    fallout11

    I agree with RichardD and bunkie. As a former amateur hacker and electronic warfare specialist for the USDOD, let me just say that as long as you physically control the hardware, you can exploit the system as you see fit. The companies in question physically control the hardware to these systems, and you will always lose under those circumstances. At least by forcing a court appearance you remove some of the monetary advantage out of what amounts to an automated pickpocketing machine. Some European scameras have produced 10,000+ tickets in a single week. No officer on earth can write that many, much less appear at even 1% of those dockets.

  • avatar

    Not sure that Confrontation Clause will apply to simple traffic cases. I hope it does, but I think it may only apply to criminal cases. A simple speed or red light would normally be treated as civil. However, in some places you can get jail time. We’ll see how that develops.

    Applies not just to camera tickets, but also to calibration of the Radar or Lidar instrument.

    David Holzman: We have a Traffic Court website where lawyers like your friend in Cape Cod can create a free profile. Please let him know about it and/or let me know his info. I’m wredlich@gmail.com.

  • avatar

    @johnthehacker: I don’t like the cameras either, but if you think that regular old cops with radar guns isn’t “for profit” police “protection” you’re pretty naive.

    There is a fundamental difference when a private company is involved. The “service” provided by police is an area of government which most agree is a basic requirement of an orderly society. If we gather sufficient taxes to pay for this service, they have no incentive to generate additional money, thus law enforcement is done as a means to maintain order and provide a level of public safety.

    Case in point:

    As a nation, we maintain a standing army for the defense of the country. We have need to guard a U.S. Embassy in some hostile country, and under longstanding agreement, it was U.S. Marines who did so; these were public employees and their cost to the taxpayers was “X”. In recent times, someone decided that private sector guards would be used for some reason unknown to the average citizen. The contract was awarded to a “for profit” company who charges the taxpayer some multiple of “X” (let’s just say 5X for talking purposes, although it is more than that) for the same work formerly done by a U.S. Marine. That company takes “X” as their profit, pays “X” to the lobbyist/congressional representatives who assured them the work, and pays their own guard 3 “X”. This guard was in all likelihood trained by taxpayer dollars.

    In the case of red light/speeding cameras, if we needed them, the public interest would be served by simply buying them and having them operated at taxpayer expense. The overhead of the private sector company who runs these includes both profit for the company and payoffs to political campaigns (otherwise known as “bribes”) in order to install their hardware.

    Back to the original question:

    Do we really want “for profit” police protection?

  • avatar
    bunkie

    One more point must be made. Even if there is no overt attempt to game the system, I absolutely guarantee that there will be lots of unintentional errors. It happens all the time despite the best efforts of everyone involved. Ever go through an IT audit? It can scare the living hell out of you when you discover the typical issues that are commonplace. Just one example is when the code that is actually running and the source code (what you think is running) it supposedly came from are different and no one can pinpoint how it happened. It happens all the time.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I’m no fan of Scalia, but he’s absolutely right about this. The ability to confront one’s accuser is a basic constitutional right, and using technology as some sort of excuse to violate that right doesn’t pass a basic sniff test.

    Well, you’re right, but there is still a problem with Melendez – dozens of people may be involved in producing a test result, and if even one is unavailable, then what, throw out the case?

    It won’t likely be a problem in red light camera cases, because, presumably, one person can calibrate one camera, and can probably do several of them per day.

    In a medical lab however, one person may sterilize glassware that is used in a dozen different tests, another may make a batch of media used in several different tests. Yet another may add something to promote cell growth, another reagent, another may read the slide under the microscope, another may write the report for the doctor….. And, it may be the case that none of these people do that exact same job all day every day, but just do what is needed when needed.

    So the janitor is on vacation, and no one can get hold of him to testify whether or not he properly wiped the counters with an approved disinfectant. Now what. Delay the trail? Dismiss the case?

    I’m not saying I don’t like the confrontation guarantee, just saying we’ve not heard the end of the complications of this decision.

    Back to cameras though – if every calibrator guy (or gal) can be kept busy in court, the companies will have to hire twice as many calibrator people just to have someone available who does not have to testify today. If we can hit them where it hurts – in the profit margin- we may be able to make it economically unfeasible.

  • avatar
    wsn

    edgett :
    July 31st, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    If we gather sufficient taxes to pay for this service, they have no incentive to generate additional money, thus law enforcement is done as a means to maintain order and provide a level of public safety.

    ———————————-

    The governments at all levels are in permanent red ink. So your “if” doesn’t stand, and yes the police have a real incentive to collect more fine if only just for their own salaries.

    I would trust a private company more than I trust the police. At least the company would lose their business, in the rare case they are proven fraudulent. A police officer won’t receive any punishment.

    I will repeat. The best way is to hire other private companies that do under cover experiments and get paid if they can prove the system is flawed.

  • avatar
    llcarlos

    I once ran a red light with the police just behind me. I did not get a ticket. Try that with a camera.

  • avatar

    +1 on Bunkie. As another IT guy (who runs email and core TCP protocols support for a small college), I have direct and continuing experience with the manifold ways computers can be flaky. I have seen airtight systems that run for long periods without any errors whatsoever, but they are a rarity to be put on a pedestal with the Hope diamond.
    But it could be worse. Would you believe there is an autonomous drone under development that autonomously decides whether to shoot at a presumed target?

  • avatar
    kuaka

    The entire traffic “regulation” scheme has been hijacked into a “revenue stream”. In its original intention, and Constitutional completeness is to regulate “intrastate commerce” in the same manner as the Federal government has the authority to regulate “interstate commerce”. Note the common term “commerce”.

    The regulatory authority of the state to impose statutory oversight on intrastate commerce in contemporary America moves as local law. What is local law?

    Local Law is state enacted legislation that empowers a state agency to accept federal funds to manage its “local” subject matter in compliance to federal legislation.

    Federal Funds move under what is federally defined as the State Plan. Read Title 49 USCA and is underlying rules and regulation found in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, then for kicks and giggles, turn to Title 18 USCA Part I Chapter 2 § 31(a)(6), then reflect upon the regulatory nature of valid and invalid documentation issued by the State Department of MOTOR VEHICLES.

    How may the State move invalid paperwork? Simple, rely upon the targeted American’s lack of knowledge as to malum prohibita actions sitting improperly in the local “municipal court” where the state lies in equity in defiance to the administrative due processes of law.

    Federal and State regulation moves first in compliance to a statutory provision implemented as Public Records management, which at the Federal Level moves through the office of Management Budget. All the sovereign and independent State legislatures who accept federal funding, have enacted a mirror bureau, generally known locally as the office of management and budget. Within this office of management and budget will be found the statutory officer known generally as the “Forms, and or Records” Manager. This statutory office is found within the all State and Federal Public Agencies.

    The regulation of Traffic is a form driven operation of State law, wherein an issuance of a “traffic ticket” is simply an ADMINISTRATIVE allegation lodged against one’s singular innocence.

    This form driven administrative allegation shall first move in the court of original jurisdiction, which is a legislative tribunal, in compliance to the State’s Administrative Procedure Act, as the “Contested Case”.

    This “driver license” is an invalid issuance to a private State Citizen, who simply intends to cruise the highways and byways of their state, or any other state in the more perfect union. The substantive proof of this fact is that in order to perfect an equitable decree, the issuing administrative agency improperly dockets the “traffic ticket” in the improper “court” (form driven legislative agency”) under a statutory provision that stipulates the complaint sits upon the docket as the presumptive guilt of the respondent. IN Pennsylvania they refer to this as a Summary Case.

    How may the state move a summary case, when the issuing agency has failed to adjudicate the contested case?

    This is why the Founding Fathers perfected the rule of law, when they amended the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.

    Learn how to substantiate not why one may be right, but why the public actors are WRONG.

    All who wish to understand the nature of the Traffic issue need to sit down in the State Archives and read the statutory law, starting from the first enactment that required the owner of an Automobile to “register” their ownership. The registration law as it is codified today, appears to empower the issuance of a CERTIFCATION that the automobile, is now a MOTOR VEHICLE.

    This CEFITCIATION for a MOTOR VEHICLE shall issue when and only when the applicant first secures from the Public Service Commission authority to move freight, and or passenger for hire upon the State’s highways and byways. This Certificate of Convenience is a form secured upon application from the State’s Public Service Commission.

    When any one State Citizen approaches the DMV window of tyranny, this State’s apparatchik will issue paperwork without requiring proof of the statutorily required Public Service Commission issuance of authority.

    So, why are State Citizens being prosecuted improperly in the “traffic courts” under subject matter that has no statutory validity?

    Well, when the unfortunate State Citizen has failed to understand their Substantive Rights are granted by God, and that the State has improperly docketed the complaint in the improper statutory forum, they loose each and every time.

    The solution is to argue the lack of statutory jurisdiction, legally known as subject matter. The State has a jurisdiction to regulate valid forms for the operation of motor vehicles. Yet when the ill informed State Citizen, who may even have an improperly issued state form (driver license) fails to object to the substantive wrongs of the State’s improper prosecution of the administrative case (contested case) they perfect in equity that which have not substance in law.

  • avatar
    stuki

    As some have alluded to, the efficiency of cameras, in and of themselves, is a good argument to oppose their introduction and limit their reach. Even though it’s possible for an officer to write a lot of citations in a day, he will never come close to what an equal investment in cameras can do. Which means revenue slaves will have a much harder time preying on motorists unaided by camera technology. Were it not thus, I doubt there would be much demand for introducing camera enforcement in the first place.

    Along the same lines, the fact that one can get judged without a jury trial in traffic cases is plain wrong, as well. If whatever harm or threat one is supposed to have caused is not sufficiently grave and obvious to warrant a proper trial, one should simply be left alone.

    By making it even easier for the revenue collectors to prey on the rest of us, we’re only moving further down a road we should never have started down in the first place.

    So, a cautious two thumbs up for the Supremes on this one!

  • avatar
    Packard

    Scalia has been very consistent about the Confrontation Clause – there’s no “substitute” for it is his basic position and has been the Court’s position.

    This case is a singular example of why we should demand that Sotomayer NOT be confirmed to the Supreme Court, and that any Senator voting for her should not be getting our vote at election time, no matter what else that person does.

    The concept underlying all of this isn’t so much a distrust of government as it is a trust of the individual juror. The notion that the jury is the best bs detector ever invented is also one to which Scalia vigorously subscribes.

    It should be instructive, of course, to remember that Obama has specifically said he would not appoint to the Supreme Court judges like Scalia.

    Another reason to hope and pray that Obama is a one term pretend president.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    This case is a singular example of why we should demand that Sotomayer NOT be confirmed to the Supreme Court, and that any Senator voting for her should not be getting our vote at election time, no matter what else that person does.

    This has the feel of a political rant looking for a home, one that has no connection to and shows no grounding in the actual facts of this specific case.

    As I noted above, this decision did not split even along conventional left-right lines:

    Opinion-
    Scalia – conservative
    Stevens – liberal
    Souter – liberal
    Thomas – conservative
    Ginsberg – liberal

    Dissenting-
    Kennedy – moderate
    Roberts – conservative
    Breyer – liberal
    Alito – conservative

    Read (or at least skim the opinion) and you could see why this is. The issues in contention are not easily cast along a rigid right-left axis, as the split in opinion should make clear.

    It should be instructive, of course, to remember that Obama has specifically said he would not appoint to the Supreme Court judges like Scalia.

    I’d like to see proof of your contention, as I have serious doubts that he would make such a statement, either way.

    In a medical lab however, one person may sterilize glassware that is used in a dozen different tests, another may make a batch of media used in several different tests. Yet another may add something to promote cell growth, another reagent, another may read the slide under the microscope, another may write the report for the doctor….. And, it may be the case that none of these people do that exact same job all day every day, but just do what is needed when needed.

    So the janitor is on vacation, and no one can get hold of him to testify whether or not he properly wiped the counters with an approved disinfectant. Now what. Delay the trail? Dismiss the case?

    You, too, could be a Supreme Court justice! You’ve essentially summarized a lot of the argument of the dissenting opinion. I don’t agree with it, but it’s a fair rebuttal.


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