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DeSwiss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:05 AM
Original message
Big Brother Takes One In The Mouth
Minnesota Supreme Court Strikes Down Red Light Cameras
The Minnesota Supreme Court delivers a unanimous decision striking down the legality of red light cameras.

The Minnesota Supreme Court today delivered the highest-level court rebuke to photo enforcement to date with a unanimous decision against the Minneapolis red light camera program. The high court upheld last September's Court of Appeals decision that found the city's program had violated state law (read opinion).

The supreme court found that Minneapolis had disregarded a state law imposing uniformity of traffic laws across the state. The city's photo ticket program offered the accused fewer due process protections than available to motorists prosecuted for the same offense in the conventional way after having been pulled over by a policeman. The court argued that Minneapolis had, in effect, created a new type of crime: "owner liability for red-light violations where the owner neither required nor knowingly permitted the violation."

"We emphasized in Duffy that a driver must be able to travel throughout the state without the risk of violating an ordinance with which he is not familiar," the court wrote. "The same concerns apply to owners. But taking the state's argument to its logical conclusion, a city could extend liability to owners for any number of traffic offenses as to which the Act places liability only on drivers. Allowing each municipality to impose different liabilities would render the Act's uniformity requirement meaningless. Such a result demonstrates that conflicts with state law."

The court also struck down the "rebutable presumption" doctrine that lies at the heart of every civil photo enforcement ordinance across the country.

"The problem with the presumption that the owner was the driver is that it eliminates the presumption of innocence and shifts the burden of proof from that required by the rules of criminal procedure," the court concluded. "Therefore the ordinance provides less procedural protection to a person charged with an ordinance violation than is provided to a person charged with a violation of the Act. Accordingly, the ordinance conflicts with the Act and is invalid."

link: http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/16/1688.asp


*** - I know that Minnesota also gave us Michelle Bachman. But they got this one right!!! :thumbsup:

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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:11 AM
Response to Original message
1. If the goal were to reduce the number of people who go through red lights...
...then they would make the yellow lights last more seconds.

If every yellow light were at least 7 seconds, then the number of drivers going through red lights would be tiny.

But this isn't really about preventing drivers from going through red lights; it's a slimy scheme to raise revenue. They purposely put the cameras at intersections with short yellow lights to screw over drivers' for a design flaw which the city could fix instead (and pocket cash from those drivers.)

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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:35 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Green to red before the count of three.
In the next town, a light at an interjection is timed to change in about three seconds (no joke, I've counted, I've used a watch with a second-hand). You could be within the speed limit and still get a ticket unless your car was already in the intersection when the process started. (And if you speeded up to make the light, you'd get a ticket for speeding.) There is a painted crisscross island triangle on the road where the local police park, waiting for their next victim. It's reminds me of a fisherman waiting for the next bite. Well, actually the situation is more like shooting fish in a barrel. I had to defend a client in this town for this violation of going through a red light. The best I could do was to amend the ticket from a $75 ticket with two points to a $450 ticket with no points. It still hurt.
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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-09-07 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #3
13. kick
kick
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DeSwiss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:37 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. ...
"But this isn't really about preventing drivers from going through red lights; it's a slimy scheme to raise revenue."

Yeah, and there are companies gearing up right now to run the cameras. Its just another source of revenue to them, where they just waltz into a city and setup shop. They split the proceeds with the cities and the cities don't have to left a finger except to open the envelopes with the red light fine checks in them. Peachy.

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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:13 AM
Response to Original message
2. It's a narrow ruling, though--all they need to do is find the angle that gives them
a pic of the driver and they're back in business.

And if there's enough money in those tickets, they will.

I am glad about this ruling, though--because it's up to now been woe to the poor person who loans their car to their buddy Speedy Gonzales who whips through the red lights with abandon!
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DeSwiss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:44 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. ...
"all they need to do is find the angle that gives them a pic of the driver and they're back in business."

That might answer the question of "rebutable presumption" up to a point. The problem is that unlike a traffic stop, you don't get your day in court where you might argue that: "it was my cousin. S/he looks just like me! No really!!!"

The justices were also saying that MN has a law that requires uniformity of traffic ordinances. And if other cities don't have these things, it ain't uniform. That might not apply in other states. But having a sharper lens or different angle won't change the uniformity issue.

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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:24 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. It will depend on the resolution of the camera, and the ability of technology to
face print the individual behind the wheel. You may be able to say "Oh, gee, it was my COUSIN" and then the next question is "Who is your cousin?" and you give the name, and they pull up cousin's license photo, do a faceprint comparison on it, and say "Uh, no--it was YOU."

Not to poop in the punch, but all this ruling does, if this ticketing effort is a cash cow, is force the authorities to go to better tech to achieve their results. They'll have to have the facial equivalent of your fingerprints at the crime scene.

They've already got a faceprint system in place in the UK--they use it check people out coming into football stadiums to weed out known thugs. They also use it on the street to pick up warrant evaders.

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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:55 AM
Response to Reply #5
10. Yes it is...
the law says you can't run a red light, and that's uniform.

The narrow ruling here is simply that the town has to prove it's YOU who ran the light, not someone else driving your car.

It could be argued that this is even more "uniform" than having a cop sitting there-- the cop will only catch a few, but the camera catches all.

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ManiacJoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-10-07 02:55 PM
Response to Reply #2
14. Given the rulings from multiple jurisdictions on the same problem,
I am surprised that there are still companies making these camera systems that do not get a photo of the driver.
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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:19 AM
Response to Original message
6. Now if they could just come up with a way...
that projects yellow or red light based on the distance from the intersection to the driver. And if the device can isolate drivers that drastically speed up and pass thru the intersection while in the last second of the yellow or when it turns red. Then have it set up to shoot the driver instead of taking their photo. Well I suppose that is reckless. If they have this capability why not have a photo of the vehicle and its license relayed to a nearby police officer and have them arrest or ticket the individual?
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:37 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. Then you end up with car chases. The idea is to be able to get the dough without having to
take a cop off crime to do traffic enforcement.
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rzemanfl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:32 AM
Response to Original message
8. In Florida you take your life, or at least your neck, in your hands
if you try to stop for a yellow light that pops up when you are near an intersection. I drove in the Midwest for 33 years and was never rear-ended. I was hit from behind at lights twice the first four years I was here and had a couple of almosts, now yellow means floor it to me.
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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. OK, I didn't know that. NT
NT
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rzemanfl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 09:02 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Florida is a different planet. n/t
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thinkbridge Donating Member (27 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 03:24 AM
Response to Original message
15. we need more Minnesota justice
too many states, like Florida, have no qualms about Big Brother surveillance
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