By on October 28, 2010

The highest courts in California and Louisiana yesterday denied the requests of municipal officials desperate to save their photo enforcement programs. In New Orleans, the red light camera and speed camera program must shut down after the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously rejected the city’s request to overturn the decision of Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Paulette R. Irons who found earlier this month that the program violated the city’s own charter.

“We are obviously disappointed in supreme court’s decision because these cameras have proven to be an important deterrent to unlawful traffic practices,” a city statement explained.

As a matter of law, the high court found no reason to overturn the Irons decision, just as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had done less than two weeks ago. As victorious Attorney Edward R. Washington III considers launching a class action suit to force refunds, the city is digging in its heels, refusing to pay back citations paid under the illegal program.

“It is our position that camera violations issued through yesterday will still be valid,” the city insisted. “You must continue to pay all tickets issued until this point.”

The California Supreme Court likewise rejected a request by the cities of Santa Ana and West Hollywood to depublish an appellate decision that found cities had to provide warning notices for thirty days at each and every red light camera intersection before issuing actual tickets (view ruling). Almost no cities do so, raising the possibility of a class action challenge to refund tickets illegally issued.

The high court rejected municipal arguments and declared the case closed, leaving it to stand with precedential value in Orange County and persuasive value throughout the state. The decision comes as justices prepare to rule on a larger case that turns on the question of whether contracts for red light camera services paid on a per-ticket basis are inherently void. That case had been pending the resolution of a case, County of Santa Clara v. Atlantic Richfield, which the court decided in July.


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2 Comments on “California, Louisiana Supreme Courts Reject Traffic Cameras Rescues...”

  • avatar

    “We are obviously disappointed in supreme court’s decision because these cameras have proven to be an important deterrent to unlawful traffic practices,” a city statement explained.

    The “unlawful traffic practices” is shorting green lights to feed hapless drivers into dangerously short yellows to manufacture traffic scofflaws.

    Also, here again we see outlaw cities trying to depublish rulings against them so they can keep on breaking the law.  When I first pointed out the significance of depublishing a court ruling about two years ago, many commentators blew this off as meaningless. It’s refreshing to see more and more TTAC readers get what is going down when this happens.

  • avatar

    Aside from dreams of revenue, why do politicians OK the cameras?
    1. They think we like the cameras!
    Last week a blog exposed Astroturf Lobbying in the red light cam Industry. (To read it, Google Rynski and Astroturf.) Astroturf Lobbying is when a PR firm manufactures a fake grassroots movement via comments posted on news articles like this one.
    The politicians, sensing strong community support (they read these comment columns too), give the OK for cameras.
    2. Politicians – and their extended family – are immune to the tickets.
    In California 1.5 million privately-owned cars have plate numbers protected from easy look up, effectively invisible to agencies trying to process red light camera violations. Such “protected plate” lists exist in other states, too. (In CA the list includes local politicians, bureaucrats, retired cops, other govt. employees, and their families and ADULT children!)  In each state, someone should check to see who and how many are ‘protected.’

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