Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Scamera Review

2012 was a brutal year for motorist rights in the "Free State", featuring examples of courts stripping The People of due process, Camera vendors issuing tickets to innocent motorists, state Lawmakers ignoring their constituents, and expansion of cameras everywhere.  Here is a look back at some of the high and low points of last year:

  • The state legislature narrowly avoided passing legislation which would have allowed private contractors to sign and approve speed camera tickets, rather than police officers   Two of the sponsors of the bill attempted to claim that the legislation would not have allowed private speed camera contractors to approve speed camera tickets, a claim clearly contradicted by the fiscal policy notes of the bill.  The bill passed the senate was luckily killed in the house, for now.  
  • The state Environmental matters Committee ignored please from motorists groups and recipients of erroneous tickets, rejecting a bill which would have provided stricter standards for speed camera evidence and banned contingent fee contracts.  After receiving extensive evidence of speed camera errors and abuses, the committed, headed by Maggie McIntosh (D Baltimore City), relegated the bill to an interim study to be conducted over the summer of 2012... a study which never took place
  • DC budgeted to increase annual photo enforcement revenues by $30 million, succeeding in producing a record $85 million in revenues in FY2012  DC has since announced plans to double its number of speed and red light cameras in 2013.
  • The town of Glen Echo asked state lawmakers to authorize stop sign cameras, in order to enforce rolling stops at stop signs.  DC began using announced plans to use its first stop sign cameras.
  • In a crushing blow to the rights of motorists, the Maryland High Court ruled in the case of "Baker vs Montgomery County" that members of the public have no right to file class action suits seeking the refund of speed camera citations for any reason, claiming that the state's speed camera law does not provide any explicit authorization to sue a local government.  The court further stated that a class action could not proceed because paying a citation was an "admission of speeding" (in the wording of the ruling)... ignoring the fact that many tickets go to people other than the driver or that there are reasons people pay citations other than the fact that they believe themselves to be guilty.  The ruling was a cruel demonstration that Maryland's high court believe their duty is to protect the political establishment and the treasuries of local governments, and proof that Maryland's justices consider their employer, the government, to be above the law.
  • A police officer accused Riverdale Park of fraudulently approving speed camera citations by imprinting his signature on citations which he never reviewed or approved, a practice with some similarities to the "robosigning" scandal in the mortgage industry.  The town refused to answer questions from the press and suspended the whistle-blower for several weeks.  A lawsuit is pending on the issue seeking to refund the improperly-approved citations.  However Riverdale Park made a motion asking the court to dismiss the suit... using the Baker vs Montgomery County decision to hide behind.  The motion to dismiss did not challenge the basic premise that citations were sent with the signature of an officer who did not sign them, something which would constitute criminal forgery and/or fraud if an ordinary person did it.