Speed cameras are a fact of life these days, and are generally accepted as such, even if they are annoying and probably dangerous, since they are a superficial solution to a complicated problem. They are also prone to abuse. Like in New Miami, Ohio, where the cameras were so blatantly rigged that a judge ordered the village to pay back $3 million in fines.
A few weeks ago, an appeals court judge handed another victory to drivers, saying that New Miami’s speed cameras amounted to “unjust enrichment” and also denied drivers due process. The ruling means, among other things, that New Miami is quickly running out of legal options.
Legal arguments, aside, the details of New Miami’s speed cameras were grosser than normal, as the town of 2,500 signed a contract with Optotraffic, a Maryland firm that supplied the cameras, which gave the company 40 percent of the fines from the cameras, leaving New Miami with the rest.
“Since the program’s inception in 2012, over three million dollars have been collected, with New Miami receiving $1,839,914.14 and Optotraffic retaining $1,226,609.41,” according to the January decision.
That ruling is a fresh blow for New Miami, but, according to the Journal-News, the case is far from over.
James Englert, the attorney handling the village’s speed camera lawsuit, said it has not determined yet whether it will take the 12th District’s decision this week on sovereign immunity to the Ohio Supreme Court. However, he said eventually it wants to appeal what’s at the heart of the case, whether former Judge Michael Sage’s decision that the old speed camera case was unconstitutional is correct.
And then there’s also this bit about how much of the lawsuit has cost the city.
Josh Engel, one of the speeders’ attorneys, said New Miami should stop wasting taxpayers’ money on legal fees — $300,000-plus so far — and just settle it. He said they are fully aware the cash-strapped village can’t just hand over a $3 million check.
“People who want to settle cases can find creative solutions to various problems,” Engel said. “If their lawyers are just looking for an excuse to keep churning this file and run litigation costs up, they’ll always find another excuse. If they want to settle this case, we can find a way to settle this case.”
The village has said it was sued and must defend itself, and it feels the program was legal.
What’s sad about this case is that you get the sense that, if only New Miami had done speed cameras a little better, no one would’ve really noticed. It’s fine to be greedy in America, just do it discretely.