11/13/2015Alabama: Veteran Takes Camera Ticket To Federal Court
Federal countersuit to a red light camera ticket will cost Redflex and Phenix City, Alabama much more than $100.
A military veteran in Phenix City, Alabama does not appreciate how the town has been targeting Fort Benning soldiers. So Jerry Paul Carroll decided to turn the tables on Phenix City and its vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia. When he was charged with violating the city's red light camera ordinance, he filed a counterclaim that is now being heard in a federal courtroom. On Monday, US Magistrate Judge Gray M. Borden gave Carroll until the end of next week to convince him that the case should not be sent back to state court.
Because he is making arguments on his own behalf, Carroll is not paying lawyers' fees. Even if Redflex and Phenix City ultimately win the case, they will have spent far more than the $100 they might collect from Carroll, whose 2002 Volkswagen was photographed in September inside an intersection a fraction of a second after the light turned red.
Carroll decided to sue, claiming the automated ticketing program violates the constitution. He cites decisions in other states striking down photo ticketing programs as evidence and argues that Redflex manipulates photographic evidence and violates the Confrontation Clause.
"Defendant respectfully moves in limine to exclude all testimony originating with plaintiff Redflex et al, digital cameras in bringing the charge of a traffic violation against defendant including, but not limited to, all officers who certify such digital camera images which have been shown to be inadmissible evidence due to possible tampering actually admitted in the instant case as 'formatting,'" Carroll wrote to the court.
Carroll says the suit belongs in federal court because the amount in dispute is more than $75,000. Redflex says there is nothing special about this case.
"This action should be remanded because federal jurisdiction is wholly lacking," Redflex attorney Thomas Richie told the court. "Carroll's civil traffic violation should be handled through the process created by Phenix City to process such violations. That process contains a forum for Carroll to make the full panoply of his arguments (all of which, to be clear, Redflex disputes on the merits) without making a federal case out of a civil traffic violation."
Redflex on several occasions have removed state cases to federal court seeking a tactical advantage.