10/2/2010Louisiana: New Orleans Traffic Cameras Under Legal Pressure
Lower court shuts down, but higher court temporarily saves, traffic camera program in New Orleans, Louisiana.
A Louisiana judge on Friday ordered the red light cameras and speed cameras in New Orleans shut down as illegal, but an appellate judge intervened to provide temporary protection to a source of significant municipal revenue. Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Paulette R. Irons found no choice but to rule against the city for violating its own charter by placing the automating ticketing program under the control of the department of public works instead of the police department. The charter gives police sole authority to enforce traffic regulations.
"A preliminary injunction is hereby issued, enjoining and prohibiting the city of New Orleans... and all others claiming to act on their behalf from implementing the automated traffic enforcement system or otherwise issuing speeding or red-light tickets using an automated commercial ticketing system," Judge Irons ordered.
Attorney Edward R. Washington III argued that, as a matter of law, the program was illegal. The city immediately appealed the order on the grounds that it would lose a tremendous amount of money were the system to be shut down.
"Without the nearly $15 million in expected revenue from this source for next year and the remaining $5 million in anticipated fines for 2010, this decision, if upheld, will impact essential city services and could result in layoffs and the closing of city facilities," City Attorney Nannette Jolivette-Brown said in a statement.
The potential monetary consequence moved a judge for the Louisiana State Court of Appeal Fourth Circuit to temporarily suspend the ruling of Judge Irons until the appellate court considers the issue on Monday.