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12/18/2015
Ohio Appeals Court Overturns Judicial Attempt To Save Speed Cams
Judge was wrong to attempt to save Akron speed camera program from the minor limitations imposed by the Ohio General Assembly.

Judge Julie A. Schafer
The Ohio Court of Appeals was not impressed by a local judge's attempt to save Akron's speed camera program from a handful of minor restrictions imposed by the General Assembly. A three-judge appellate panel reversed Summit County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas A. Teodosio, who had given Akron and its camera vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) permission to continue issuing automated tickets without restriction.

In March, a law that was incorrectly described as a "ban" on speed cameras took effect (view legislation). This measure specifically authorized photo ticketing as long as a police officer was stationed near the automated device. Municipalties and ATS objected, as the requirement significantly raised the cost of running a camera program. Judge Teodosio heard the complaints and decided to strike down the restrictions as unconstitutional.

"This requirement appears to have no impact on the operation of automatic enforcement devices other than to place a prohibitive cost on their operation, and essentially defeats the benefits, and indeed the very premise of such automatic devices by requiring the presence of law enforcement," Judge Teodosio ruled.

Not so fast, said the appellate judges.

"All acts of the General Assembly are entitled to a strong presumption of constitutionality," Judge Julie A. Schafer wrote for the three-judge panel. "Here, the trial court's judgment entry ruling... never referred to the presumption of constitutionality... Consequently, we conclude that the trial court failed to apply the necessary first principle that is implicated in all challenges to legislative enactments' constitutionality -- the presumption that the challenged enactment is constitutional."

The panel found another significant error in the lower court's decision. Judge Teodosio struck down the speed camera restriction law without applying the legally required analysis of which provisions of the law could be saved if others happen to be found unconstitutional.

"The city's and ATS's motion for summary judgment also fails to identify which specific provisions of the act are unconstitutional and severable," Judge Schaever wrote. "Moreover, the trial court's judgment entry contains no reference to the severance test promulgated by the Ohio Supreme Court."

In light of these errors, the Court of Appeals struck the lower court's decision and ordered Judge Teodosio go back to the drawing board to produce a decision consistent with Wednesday's decision, a copy of which is available in a 35k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Akron v. Ohio (Court of Appeals, State of Ohio, 12/16/2015)

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