Speed Trap Hunter Forum: Best Radar Detectors, Laser Jammers, Laser Detectors, Speed Cameras Forum  

Go Back   Speed Trap Hunter Forum: Best Radar Detectors, Laser Jammers, Laser Detectors, Speed Cameras Forum > Speed Trap & Traffic Enforcement > Economics & Politics
Radar Detectors Forum Logon:

Economics & Politics Discussion of the economic and political market driving factors of automated enforcement technology.

LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 2010-02-07
NMA Reporter NMA Reporter is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: 2008 Feb
Posts: 125
NMA Reporter is on a distinguished road
Exclamation Missouri Supreme Court Questions Legality of Red Light Cameras

Article: Missouri Supreme Court Questions Legality of Red Light Cameras

Jason UmbargerSupreme court justices in Missouri yesterday openly questioned the constitutionality of the red light camera program in the city of Springfield. The high court heard oral arguments in the case of retired highway patrol officer Adolph Belt, Jr. who attempted to defend himself in a court of law against the automated citation he received in the mail from Lasercraft, a UK-based camera vendor. Springfield insisted that Belt had no such right and that an administrative hearing presided over by a municipal judge constituted the first and last appeal in the matter. This procedure raised eyebrows among members of the high court, as administration represent a function of the executive.

"Do we also have a separation of powers issue -- that a municipal judge is also being an executive official for the city?" Judge Laura Denvir Stith asked. "Section 1, Article 2 of the Missouri Constitution which says... 'The powers of government shall be divided into three distinct departments -- the legislative, executive and judicial -- ...and no person... charged with the exercise of powers belonging to one shall exercise any power belonging to the others.' Assuming for the purposes of this question that the city could set up an administrative procedure, can it have a judicial officer play an executive role?"

Belt and his attorney, Jason Umbarger, had filed for a new trial in circuit court, arguing that traffic cases were considered to be quasi-criminal matters. The circuit court refused to hear the case, claiming it had no jurisdiction. Members of the high court were not convinced the procedure was correct.

"The municipal judge is the initial fact finder," one justice explained. "Why wouldn't, then, there be a trial de novo because he's acting as a judge not as an administrator? ...How can he wear an administrative hat when the constitution forbids him from acting in both departments?"

Springfield Chief Prosecutor Johnnie Burgess argued that the city's use of the administrative process was a shrewd financial move. The city also saved money by adding the duty of hearing such cases to the job description of the municipal judge rather than hiring a separate administrative hearing officer. Most importantly, the system blocks 9300 ticket recipients from mounting costly challenges.

"Our fear -- the city's fear -- is that if this court decides that all litigation that touches or concerns an administrative ordinance must be handled by the municipal court, then a number of those other things that are done not just by Springfield, but by other cities, will get caught up in the requirement to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, a jury trial and so forth," Burgess explained.

"How is that due process?" a high court judge asked. "You can't convict someone if they didn't do the crime. It's fundamental that the driver be the one convicted, not the owner of the car, if they're going through a red light. I mean, the owner of the car doesn't go through the red light -- unless he's the driver."

Courts are mixed on the question of red light camera legality. In 2007, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the use of automating ticketing machines violated state law and deprived motorists of due process (view ruling). The Ohio Supreme Court (read opinion) and Iowa Supreme Court (read opinion) declared camera use consistent with state laws. Belt's lawyer hopes that the Missouri court follows Minnesota's lead.

"We are pleased the Missouri Supreme Court chose to hear our case and await the court's guidance," Umbarger wrote in an email to TheNewspaper. "We continue to maintain defendants in these cases are entitled to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, a presumption of innocence and all the other protections we afford any other criminal defendant." Source
Digg this Post!Add Post to del.icio.usBookmark Post in TechnoratiFurl this Post!
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Missouri Supreme Court to Tackle Red Light Camera Issue NMA Reporter Economics & Politics 0 2009-12-13 14:46
Missouri Cops Oppose Red Light Cameras NMA Reporter Economics & Politics 0 2009-03-13 06:40
Missouri Cops Oppose Red Light Cameras NMA Reporter Economics & Politics 0 2009-03-13 06:40
California Supreme Court to Review Red Light Cameras NMA Reporter Economics & Politics 0 2008-09-28 11:30
California Appeals Court Defends Red Light Cameras NMA Reporter Economics & Politics 0 2008-06-16 10:22

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 15:45.

©2019 SpeedTrapHunter