Appellate judges are questioning the legal foundation of Cleveland’s controversial traffic-enforcement cameras, increasing the chances that the city will have to refund millions of dollars in fines, reports the ClevelandPlain Dealer. The questions arose as the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals considered a challenge to the cameras, which the city uses to photograph vehicles running red lights or speeding and to then fine the owners. “I’m wondering about the fundamental fairness of the ordinance,” said Judge Kenneth Rocco. “Is there any other civil case where you can have a judgment rendered against you without some sort of trial? It sounds like heads you lose, tails the city of Cleveland wins.”
Cleveland began using the cameras in late 2005. Unlike police-issued tickets, which are criminal violations, camera-generated tickets are civil infractions carrying $100 fines. They can be contested at a hearing at the Parking Violations Bureau. The lawsuit claims that for more than three years, the city illegally ticketed thousands of people driving leased vehicles under a law that provided only for fining the owners of vehicles.