CAPE vows to continue fight against traffic cams
By LOREN GENSON • Gazette Staff Writer • January 22, 2009
As red-light and speed-cameras continue to flash throughout the City of Chillicothe, opponents say they'll continue the fight against their use.
Citizens Against Photo Enforcement and the local attorney representing some of its members in a lawsuit against the city say they will continue to protest the cameras at council meetings and show solidarity by attending hearings in court.
Katherine Hine, an attorney representing six plaintiffs who filed a complaint against the city, Redflex Inc. and Mayor Joe Sulzer, is seeking a class action restraining order that would suspend enforcement.
A restraining order approved last month by visiting judge John Martin, of Fairfield County, has expired, although Hine is hoping to get a new order that would apply to everyone on the roads. She said she wants enforcement halted while the general public waits on a court hearing.
"Right now, we've just got a very narrow group of people included," Hine said at a pre-trial hearing Tuesday. "They've been ticketing the plaintiffs during this time ... there's damage going on in the delay."
The plaintiffs are expected to argue the cameras infringe on their constitutional rights and are not being implemented properly. The city of Chillicothe and Redflex have filed a motion for dismissal of the case.
In the motion for dismissal, Redflex and the city argue they passed an ordinance through City Council making the cameras legal within the city and have operated the cameras in accordance with the ordinance.
The motion said the defense lawyers are reviewing the possibility Hine should be disqualified as counsel for the plaintiffs because she has received tickets from Redflex and has requested appeals that have not yet been scheduled.
"As such," the motion reads, "Ms. Hine has interjected herself into this lawsuit as a potential witness." The motion also said the initial complaint filed by the plaintiffs does not show conflict with the Ohio or U.S. Constitutions.
In October, the city began issuing tickets for red-light and speed violations caught by cameras mounted at six intersections and, soon after, some local residents began protesting their use. Council, citing safety concerns throughout the city, approved their use earlier in the year, after waiting for an opinion on a constitutional aspect of their use.
The plaintiffs say they will provide evidence showing hearings have not been scheduled, unfair tickets were issued and due process has not been followed.
"There are people who are trying to appeal their ticket, and they had to pay the $95 to get a hearing and it still hasn't been scheduled," said plaintiff Connie Ingram. "They don't seem to be interested in letting us plead our case."
Mayor Joe Sulzer said hearings are scheduled at the availability of the officers through the police department. Ingram said she also knows of people who have been given refunds that have not yet been processed, and they haven't received their money back.
"There were people who were cleared because of legal right turn on reds, and they've been told they're getting their money back ... Well, where is it?" Ingram said.
Sulzer said they have worked to identify those who will receive a refund from legal right-on-red violations after he promised a refund in November.
"We're working on that. It's just going to take a little while longer, because now we have to run that information through the auditor's office," he said, adding the auditor should have the information in a week.
(Genson can be reached at 772-9369 or via e-mail at [replacer_a])