New Orleans, LA — Take away the political corruption, bribery scandals, increased accidents, and police state issues with Red Light Cameras and we are still left with a system that is rooted in the removal of due process. After the corporatist red light camera industry spread through the nation like a cancer for more than a decade, people are finally beginning to realize their inherently despotic nature. Kind of.
The city of New Orleans is now on the hook to repay more than 200,000 drivers who’ve fallen victim to the city’s entirely unconstitutional red light camera system. Drivers who’ve gotten one of the expensive $110-$150 tickets between the years 2008 and 2010 are now due a refund — plus interest — according to a recent court ruling.
According to WWL:
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal this week upheld an earlier judgment against that city that tickets issued to more than 200,000 drivers are invalid because they were handled by the Department of Public Works instead of the police department.
Ad hoc Judge Robert Burns ruled against the city in 2017 as several similar lawsuits that were consolidated into a class action. The city quickly appealed, arguing that it was within its right to assign tickets to a City Hall agency rather than the NOPD.
But a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit – Chief Judge James McKay III, Judge Paula Jones and Judge Dale Atkins – issued a ruling Wednesday that city’s home rule charter states that “a traffic bureau within the NOPD shall be responsible for enforcing the street regulations of the city.”
Those who’ve been extorted by the unconstitutional red light camera systems should not get their hopes too high, however. The corrupt city officials of New Orleans have a history of breaking the law, ignoring judgments, and refusing to pay them.
However, because these funds are due to individuals and not corporations, Judge Burns ruled that the city “shall immediately refund” the fines and fees to plaintiffs. We shall see.
The reason this is “kind of” a victory is that the money is coming back into the hands of those who were extorted (which is a win) but it is being done so because of a bureaucratic error, not because government had an awakening to the unconstitutional nature of such ventures. Other municipalities like New Miami, Ohio, however, have actually made similar judgments based on the unconstitutionality of red light cameras.
As TFTP reported at the time, after they woke up to the fact that their due process had been entirely removed by Optotraffic — a private vendor allowed to extort citizens with the blessing of New Miami politicians — the people fought back in the form of a class action lawsuit.
As the Newspaper reported, a group of three lawyers had filed suit in 2013, arguing that New Miami’s automated ticketing ordinance gave vehicle owners no realistic opportunity to defend themselves against the demand for a payment of up to $180 that arrived in the mail. Optotraffic, a private vendor, sent the tickets to motorists passing through the less-than-one-square-mile town on US 127, a major highway that links Cincinnati with points north.
During that period of Optotraffic extortion, the city robbed drivers of $3,066,523.00. In 2017, after Butler County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael A. Oster Jr.’s ruling, the city was forced to pay back all of it.
“If the government has created an unconstitutional law/ordinance that has taken people’s money without affording them the necessary due process protections, should not justice demand, and the law require, restitution of that money to the people?” Oster asked at the opening of his ruling. “Once the complexities of the law are analyzed, the answer is simple: Yes.”
The city attempted to fight the ruling of the state’s second highest court for more than a year. However, the case was so cut and dry that the Ohio Supreme Court chose not to intervene.
This ruling set by the court is a precedent that should be used by towns across the United States to give people their money back who’ve been extorted by these due process-removing red light camera companies.