Yank out the red light cameras now

Washington Post. In fact, they are causing more accidents than they are stopping, so says the statistics. Unfortunately, they are also a major money source for city governments and the evil corporations that run them. And there is the constitutional problem that hasn’t been properly addressed. Red light cameras are run by private companies that get a cut of each ticket issued. There is no incentive to “give a guy a break” as that affects the bottom line of the corporations profit. If a cop sees a guy run a red light, but realizes it is because of a firetruck coming, or a big semi approaching from behind, or because the light was short timed, or a guy stopped short and left him in the intersection, the cop isn’t going to write a ticket (unless he is an uber-jerk). Red light cameras don’t have this discretion. There is actually some case law on “independence” as it relates to the Fourth Amendment that should be applied here. Courts have said that someone who has a financial interest in a case cannot be “independent” and issuing warrants for searches. I think it is time for a series of lawsuits against the corporations and the cities to try and do away with these now (arguably) useless stop lights. Of course that would mean I would have to go get a ticket in the first place to have standing. We’ll see… Findlaw.com It is a long established requirement that, to be valid under the Fourth Amendment, a search warrant must be issued by a neutral and detached magistrate. Shadwick v. City of Tampa, 407 U.S. 345, 350, 92 S. Ct. 2119, 2123 (1972)(citing Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 14, 68 S. Ct. 367, 369 (1948)). It also appears that Madison has an interest in the outcome of proceedings before her because of her work as the “chief lieutenant deputy jailor” for financial matters, including the collection of fees and billings for housing inmates and for trying to secure the financial stability of the jail. In Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U.S. 510, 47 S. Ct. 437 (1927), and Ward v. Village of Monroeville, 409 U.S. 57, 93 S. Ct. 80 (1972), the mayors of towns in Ohio had a financial interest in the outcome of minor cases that they had jurisdiction under Ohio law to try. The mayors had a financial interest in the sense that they could assess fees and costs which in the case of Tumey went into his own pocket and in the case of Ward went to the city of which he was mayor. In the case before us, Madison oversees the jail’s budget and is in charge of its financial transactions. Madison’s agency stands to gain financially in the form of bookings, administrative fees from arrests and per diem lodging. See KY. REV. STAT. § 441.265. Madison explained that for arrestees for which she would issue an arrest warrant in her county as trial commissioner, as jailor she would collect various fees for the jail: “[i]f someone comes in and they make bond and they’re being released, they can pay the booking fee; the deputies can write them a receipt and accept that money and put it into our safe.” (J.A. at 238.) Like Tumey and Ward, Madison may have a financial interest in the outcome of cases before her because she can issue warrants for the arrest of persons who would then pay fees to Madison as the jail’s financial officer and whose lodging may be reimbursed by other government agencies. This set of incentives reinforces our conclusion that Madison’s ability to act as a neutral and objective magistrate is questionable.]]>

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