Dreaded Red-Light Camera Tickets Are Legit, California High Court Rules

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Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 1:50 PM
  • Yousuf Fahimuddin/Flickr

Updated at the bottom with a new court challenge brewing. First posted at 12:44 p.m.

A man's challenge to the legality of California's red-light cameras was rejected by the California Supreme Court today.

See also: Jay Beeber: Folk Hero Stops L.A.'s Red Light Cameras.

Citizen Howard Herships fought the good fight against sometimes abusive robo-tickets that really don't allow you to have a fair day in court, but ultimately the Golden State's highest panel of justices said no to his request to stay and correct the law:

Herships argued in his request for a stay that "unconstitutional statutes presume that a computer generated picture is 'presumed accurate' and claims burden of proof shifts to the criminal defendant at trial to prove otherwise."

In other words, he argues, when you get that red-light ticket in the mail, if you want to fight it you have to prove your innocence. The law says it's up to the accuser to prove your guilt, however, in all other cases.

He says red-light camera tickets, by offering up no witness testimony (remember, you generally have the right to confront and question your accuser), denies folks their due process.

"The U.S. Supreme Court says absolutely not," Herships told us. "You have to bring someone to put the document in court to be cross examined. But you would have a police officer come with no knowledge of the issue."

On top of that, he alleges the legislature is trying to enact a workaround while red-light cameras were still be challenged in court.

"They've decided they're going to change the law and not allow the court to rule on it," Herships said.

See also: R.I.P. Los Angeles Red-Light Camera Tickets: What This Means for the Rest of the County.

His case challenged two red-light tickets he received in Rancho Cordova courtesy of an Arizona-based red-light ticket contractor, Redflex Traffic Systems.

Today the Supreme Court announced that his "Petition for writ of mandate/prohibition & application for stay [is] denied."

So much for justice.

[Update at 1:50 p.m.]: Herships says he plans to take this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. He's says he'll file an appeal in U.S. District Court next week challenging the constitutionality of red-light tickets.

"The issue is the denial of the right to confront your accuser," he told us.


Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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