1/8/2015Missouri: Public Fights Back Against Red Light Camera Cities
Citizen sponsors of the St. Charles County, Missouri anti-red light camera initiative seek to defend the public vote in court.
Residents who led the successful ballot initiative to ban red light cameras and speed cameras in St. Charles, Missouri are now fighting back at three cities that are attempting to use the courts to thwart the will of voters. Carl Bearden and Dan Rakers on Monday filed to intervene in the circuit court case brought by St. Peters, Lake Saint Louis and O'Fallon to overturn the charter amendment banning automated enforcement adopted in November by 73 percent of the vote.
Under state law, the proponents of a ballot proposition have a right to have their legal counsel involved in the arguments before the court. The move is necessary because the cities filed the lawsuit against the county itself and its director of elections, Rich Chismer. Those involved in organizing the ballot measure were not named in the suit.
"Although the current defendants may be vigorous in their defense, they are not proponents of the proposition," attorney Marc H. Ellinger argued. "Proponents of ballot questions have a unique interest in litigation challenging any part of such ballot questions. Here, [Bearden and Rakers], as proponents, have a significant interest in this litigation and the claims of intervenors and the main action have questions of law and fact in common."
American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based company in charge of most of the state's automated ticketing programs, wants to do whatever it takes to prevent any further votes from happening in Missouri. In Texas, the company found a federal judge willing to block the sponsors of Houston's successful anti-camera initiative from being part of the company's lawsuit to overturn the election results. That judge received a stiff rebuke from the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals.
"There is no federal authority nor state law prohibiting intervention of right in this type of case," the appellate judges said in reversing the lower court judge's order.
Whatever the outcome in St. Charles, the status of Missouri's cameras remain in legal limbo statewide. The Missouri Supreme Court is currently considering a case that could end their use, as the General Assembly has never sanctioned their use. A final ruling from the high court is pending.