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Red Light Lawsuit

Red Light Lawsuit

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Ruling from Judge Mark Neill invalidating the city's red light camera ordinance.
Ruling from Judge Mark Neill invalidating the city's red light camera ordinance.

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Published by: St. Louis Public Radio on May 23, 2011
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05/23/2011

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STATEOFMISSOURISSCITYOFST.LOUIS
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MISSOURICIRCUITCOURTTWENTY-SECONDJUDICIALCIRCUIT(CityofSt.Louis)
ALEXASMITH,FAITHMORGAN,andDAVIDBOYD,onbehalfofthemselvesandallotherssimilarlysituated,Plaintiffs,vs.CITYOFST.LOUIS,Defendant.CauseNo.0922-CCI0285Division
NO.5
ENTERE"O
MAY
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2011
MJZ
ORDERANDPARTIALJUDGMENTTheCourthasbeforeitPlaintiffs'andDefendant'sCross-MotionsforSummaryJudgment.TheCourthasreviewedthesubmissionsoftheparties,therelevantauthorities,andtheargumentsofcounsel,andnowrulesasfollows.Thefollowingfactsareuncontroverted:OnoraboutNovember8,2005,DefendantCityofSt.LouisenactedOrdinance66868.
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Byitsterms~Ordinance66868authorizedtheestablishmentofaredlightphotoenforcementprogramintheCityofst.Louis("theOrdinance").TheCitycontractedwithAmericanTrafficSolutions,Inc.("ATS")tomaintainandoperatetheCity'sredlightphotoenforcementsystem.
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AlsoknownasRevisedCodeoftheCityofSt.Louissection17.07.040.
 
Redlightphotoenforcementprogramcameras("redlightcameras")wereinstalledat51intersectionapproachesintheCityofSt.Louistodetectviolationsofredlighttrafficregulations.Althoughtheredlightcamerasphotographtherearofthesubjectvehiclesanddonotphotographdrivers'images,theOrdinancecreatesarebuttablepresumptionthattheregisteredownerofthevehiclewastheoperatoratthetimeoftheviolation.AspartoftheCity'sredlightphotoenforcementprogram,policeofficersreviewvideorecordingsofsuspectedredlightviolationsanddeterminewhetherprobablecauseexiststoissueaNoticeofViolation.Whenaviolationisdetectedbyapoliceofficeraspartoftheredlightphotoenforcementprogram,aNoticeofViolationisissuedandsentbyfirstclassmailtotheregisteredownerofthevehicle.TheNoticesofViolationcontain,amongotherthings,informationallowingviolatorstoreviewvideorecordingsoftheirallegedviolationsonaninternetwebsite.Fromtheinceptionoftheredlightphotoenforcementprogramin2007throughJune30,2010,policeofficershadreviewedvideorecordingsof400,889suspectedviolationsandissued267,777NoticesofViolation.CasesarisingfromtheredlightphotoenforcementprogramoftheCityof
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LouisarebroughtintheCity'sMunicipalCourt.TheMunicipalCourtsupervisesthecity'strafficviolationbureau.Defendanthasnotcausedthearrestofanypersonforaviolationoftheredlightphotoenforcementprogramsincetheinceptionoftheprogram.SincetheinceptionoftheprogramthroughJune30,2010,atotalof267,777violationshadbeensent.ThefineadoptedbytheCityforviolationsoftheredlight
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enforcementprogramis$100.Defendanthasnotfinedanypersonmorethan$100perviolationsincetheinceptionoftheprogram.TheMunicipalCourt'sreportstotheDepartmentofRevenuearesubmittedelectronicallythroughREJIS.RedlightcameraenforcementinfractionsarenotreportedthroughREJIS.TheMissouriDepartmentofRevenuedoesnotassess"points"forredlightcameraenforcementprograminfractions.PlaintiffAlexaSmithandhermother,DeborahSmith,receivedaNoticeofViolationissuedaspartoftheCity'sredlightphotoenforcementprogram.PlaintiffSmithwas19yearsoldandlivingwithherparentsin2007whentheNoticeofViolationwasissued.PlaintiffSmithdoesnotdisputethatherfamily'svehiclefailedtoproperlystopataredlightasevidencedbythevideorecordingoftheviolation.Smithdoesnotrememberifshewasdrivingthevehicleatthetimeoftheviolation.smithandhermotherweretheregisteredownersofthevehicleatthetimeoftheinfraction.Smithdecidedto"justpay[the$100finelandbedonewithit,"butthenforgottomailthecheck.SheeventuallypaidthefineonOctober22,2007.Shedidnotconsultanyattorney,orattempttoassertanydefenses,avoidances,orothermeansofcontestingguilt.Smithbelievedthatawarrantcouldbeissuedforherarrestifshedidnotpaythefine.TheothertwonamedPlaintiffs,FaithMorganandDavidBoyd,alsoreceivedNoticesofViolationpursuanttotheCity'sredlightphotoenforcementprogram.PlaintiffDavidBoydsentoneaffidavitofnon-responsibilitytotheMunicipalCourtindicatingthathisvehiclehadbeenstolen.HealsosentalettertotheMunicipalCourtclerkverifyingthathisvehiclehadbeenstolen.InMay2010,theCityCounselor's
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