Monday, May 13, 2013

Circuit Court Dismisses Speed Camera Ticket, Xerox Blocks Access to Evidence

A Montgomery County Circuit court judge found the defendant who appealed a Montgomery County speed camera ticket Not Guilty.

Mr Timothy Leahy, an attorney who works for the law firm Byrd and Byrd LLC, argued that a requirement of state law:
(3) A speed monitoring system operator shall fill out and sign a daily set-up log for a speed monitoring system that: 
(i) States that the speed monitoring system operator successfully performed the manufacturer-specified self-test of the speed monitoring system prior to producing a recorded image; 
Was not met, because the logs for the camera which issued this ticket did not contain a statement that "the speed monitoring system operator successfully performed the manufacturer-specified self-test".  As such the operator had not performed the legally required duty of affirming the proper operation of the equipment.

Mr Leahy had also attempted to Subpoena several other additional records pertaining to the speed camera from Xerox State and Local Solutions(XSLS), including records showing the "time between pictures".  Speed camera Xerox Corporation objected to the request for this information which could have been used to verify the recorded speed of the device, stating "XSLS further objecs to this request on the grounds that it seeks discovery of trade secrets and other proprietary information, of of which are matters privileged from disclosure.  XSLS is in possession of certain documents provided under contract with Vitronic.  These documents were provided pursuant to a Confidentiality Agreement and represents Vitronic's proprietary information.  XSLS has not received authorization to provide this information, so it will not be produced pursuant to this Subpoena".

Xerox objected to the the request for other records pertaining to as well, including:
  •  Documents showing how the calibration of the camera took place and how the self test results are to be read
  •  Daily logs (documents which are REQUIRED TO BE DISCLOSED AT ANY COURT HEARING under Maryland law)
  •  Manufacturer calibration records
  •  Repair records for the camera
  •  Officer certifications and training records for the camera
  •  Camera manuals/guidelines
Xerox argued, among other things, that these documents, which pertain precisely to how the devices function and are operated, were "neither relevant nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence."  We note that daily logs, annual calibration logs, and speed camera operator training certificates are all specifically required to be disclosed under state law.

Xerox additionally argued that they should not be required to produce ANY records in response to a subpoena on several grounds, even though they are the ones who provide all of the equipment for Montgomery County's cameras and are substantially responsible for the handling of evidence in speed camera court cases.  You can read Xerox's complete response to the Subpoena here.

"Xerox refused, by filing an opposition to my subpoena for information, to produce the documents to show how long the time was between the photos of my car – so I could accurately calculate my speed from the distance traveled." wrote Mr Leahy.  "Remember the Baltimore system was shut down because Xerox had cameras that had images/videos that showed the cameras were wrong."


Xerox was previously the operator of speed cameras used by Baltimore City which were admitted to have systematically produced erroneous violations.  In Baltimore's case accurately timestamped images were available which made it possible for a pattern of errors to be determined by the Baltimore Sun and also by supporters of this website... forcing the city and Xerox to admit the errors.  However in Montgomery County tickets issued by VITRONIC speed cameras have the timestamps rounded off to the nearest second, and the real time interval between images is unavailable to defendants (and to the press)... making it impossible to perform the type of analysis after the fact which revealed systematic errors in Baltimore City.  We note that the annual calibration certificates for the VITRONIC speed camera which issued the citation in Leahy's case were issued by the same company (MRA Digital) which "certified" the faulty cameras used in Baltimore City.

See VITRONIC logs and calibration certs

This year the Maryland state legislature considered several bills which would have made providing this information on speed camera tickets mandatory   Montgomery County sent county employees at taxpayer expense to argue against this requirement, and State senator Madaleno (D, Montgomery County) wrote an amendment to the legislation which removed the requirement from the bill in the Senate, and the leadership of the House Environmental Matters blocked similar legislation in the House   Ultimately the legislature adorned this year without passing any speed camera legislation.

"I’m not surprised Xerox doesn't want another jurisdiction to have to face the inaccuracy problems that caused Baltimore to fire Xerox" wrote Leahy.