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South Dakota Court Rejects City Appeals Process
Appeals process in Sioux Falls, South Dakota used for red light camera and other cases found to violate state law.

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A circuit court judge earlier this month struck down as unfair the administrative appeals process used for red light camera citations and other ticketing within the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Daniels Construction brought suit against Sioux Falls. The company had appealed an $8100 fine levied by the city to a city hearing officer who ruled that the company had to pay the city. The wording of the ordinance under which Daniels was fined suggested that a hearing officer's decision could be appealed to circuit court. Once the company challenged the city in circuit court, Sioux Falls argued that the court had no jurisdiction to consider the case or overturn the fine. Judge William J. Srstka, Jr found the procedure unlawful.

"The city advises of the right to appeal, and then shows up in court to oppose that right," Srstka wrote. "The city is guaranteeing a right to appeal that does not exist."

Beginning July 1, the city will be forced either to change its ordinance or change the state constitution. Daniels Construction's lawyer, Paul Linde, feared a new ordinance would merely provide a method of review controlled by the city.

"They hire the hearing examiner, they pay the hearing examiner, and the hearing examiner typically rules in their favor," Linde told the Argus Leader newspaper. "What they want is all the administrative appeals to go to the hearing examiners, and then you get a rubber stamp on their ruling."

Source: Judge: City violates state law (Argus Leader (SD), 1/29/2007)

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