More on the red light camera ruling

Here’s the Chron story on the ruling in the Kubosh lawsuit that I had noted yesterday. The basic facts were covered in that Newswatch post, so I’ll just skip ahead to the new stuff.

“The city is very pleased with the outcome,” said Philip Fraissinet, a partner with Bracewell & Guiliani, the firm that defended the city. “Fundamentally, these cameras do work and reduce the number of violations and serious accidents.”

Paul Kubosh also claimed a small victory, since the judge agreed with the plaintiffs that the city has failed to present “properly authenticated evidence” in hearings over the tickets. Wood also said the city should not be imposing a nonrefundable fee on a driver who wants to appeal the ticket.

“I’d really rather not have red-light cameras at all, but if you’re gonna have them, if judges are going to allow them, the hearing has to be fair,” Kubosh said.

City attorney Arturo Michel said the city was willing to adjust the administrative hearing process to accommodate the judge’s concerns. He said the city might create an affidavit for red-light camera tickets to satisfy the need for “properly authenticated evidence.”

Although details need to be worked out, the affidavit could testify to the operations of the camera system and their proper use by the city, Michel said. That would bolster the evidentiary status of the digital image of the car running the red light.

Kubosh called it a “big win,” saying, “You have to follow the rules of evidence. You can’t have a sham hearing.”

Wood’s letter indicated she also had a problem with the $10 non-refundable fee required of drivers who contest their first hearing. Michel said the city might consider refunding the fee if the driver wins on appeal.

The $10 fee is not a big concern for the city, Fraissinet said.

“There have been more than 100,000 red-light camera violations, and there have been about 20 appeals,” Fraissinet said.

I’m still not quite sure what the issue is with “properly authenticated evidence” or how exactly an affidavit solves it, but as I suspected, the two points on which Kubosh won seem fairly minor, at least from the city’s perspective. I hope someone will correct me if I’m being overly flippant about that. I guess I figure that since Kubosh’s original stated claim was that cities did not have the authority to levy civil fines for red light violations caught by the cameras, there really wasn’t anything “big” left for him to win on. The program will continue, more or less as originally envisioned though with some of the revenue going to the state and with a few minor tweaks around the edges. There’s no way that’s what Kubosh envisioned as his goal when he filed his lawsuit.

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One Response to More on the red light camera ruling

  1. Kenneth Fair says:

    One of the requirements for evidence to be admissible in court is that it be authenticated; that is, there must be sufficient evidence to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims. Tex. R. Evid. 901(a). So for instance, if you want to introduce a photograph into evidence, you can’t just submit the photograph; you need to have someone testify about where and when the photo was taken and that it accurately reflects its subject.

    I can’t tell exactly from the story, but it sounds like the the administrative hearing for a red-light fine had the pictures being submitted without a supporting affidavit. So now it sounds like the city will provide a supporting affidavit. If so, you’re right, this is only a minor victory.

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