Posts tagged as:

red light cameras

Police and prosecution roundup

by Walter Olson on September 24, 2014

  • “Shaneen Allen’s prosecutor might be having second thoughts” [Radley Balko, earlier] Sequel: Indeed.
  • “If you get a parking ticket, you are guilty until you have proven yourself innocent …. And that’s worked well for us.” — “senior” Washington, D.C. government official [Washington Post quoting inspector general report; also includes details on traffic camera protocols]
  • Not an Onion story: Eleventh Circuit chides use of SWAT methods in Florida barber shop inspections [ABA Journal ("It's a pretty big book, I’m pretty sure I can find something in here to take you to jail for"), Volokh, Balko, Greenfield] Militarized cop gear is bad, routinized use of SWAT tactics is worse [Jacob Sullum]
  • New England Innocence Project looking at several shaken-baby cases [Boston Herald, background]
  • Innocence commissions like North Carolina’s not a big budgetary line item as government programs go, alternatives may cost more [A. Barton Hinkle]
  • New evidence continues to emerge in Ferguson police shooting, but is nation still listening? [Scott Greenfield]
  • Prosecutors arrayed as organized pressure group is very bad idea to begin with, and more so when goal is to shrink citizens’ rights [AP on "Prosecutors Against Gun Violence"; Robert H. Jackson on prosecutors' power and role in society]

{ 1 comment }

Police and prosecution roundup

by Walter Olson on September 11, 2014

  • Enviro activists unlawfully block coal ship, Massachusetts prosecutor expresses approval by dropping charges [James Taranto, Jacob Gershman/WSJ Law Blog, ABA Journal]
  • Unfortunately-named Mr. Threatt charged with “robbery that happened while he was in jail” [Baltimore Sun via @amyalkon]
  • “How conservative, tough-on-crime Utah reined in police militarization” [Evan McMorris-Santoro, BuzzFeed] More: What if we needed it someday? San Diego Unified School District defends acquisition of armored vehicle [inewsource.org] And Senate hearing [AP]
  • “Machine-based traffic-ticketing systems are running amok” [David Kravets, ArsTechnica]
  • Thanks, Fraternal Order of Police, for protecting jobs of rogue Philadelphia cops who could cost taxpayers millions [Ed Krayewski; related earlier]
  • Study: returning from 6- to 12-person juries could iron out many racial anomalies at trial [Anwar et al, Tabarrok]
  • Courts can help curb overcriminalization by revitalizing rule of lenity, mens rea requirement [Steven Smith]

Town installs traffic cam by hospital emergency room, snags patient rushing in with coronary symptoms. The judge is no help, either. [Marianela Toledo, Florida Watchdog via Fergus Hodgson, PanAm Post]

{ 4 comments }

The short yellow light

by Walter Olson on February 7, 2014

It’s a “cash cow” for some red-light camera operators, say critics [WTKR]

{ 1 comment }

Maryland roundup

by Walter Olson on November 16, 2013

  • Even if some of its speedcams were illegal, Montgomery County says it doesn’t plan to issue refunds “because drivers admit guilt when they mail in their signed tickets and pay the fines” [WUSA, auto-plays video]
  • Per state’s highest court, “repose statute does not bar the plaintiffs’ wrongful death action because it refers to suits for ‘injury,’ as opposed to ‘death.'” [Alex Stein, Bill of Health] Introduce comparative negligence while also reforming old doctrines like joint/several liability? [Don Gifford and Christopher Robinette via TortsProf]
  • Double-blind photo lineups: “Baltimore Police Take Steps to Avoid Wrongful Convictions” [John Ross, Reason]
  • State shuts down day care center. An overreaction? [Free-Range Kids]
  • Reporter Audrey Hudson worries investigative sources were compromised after her notes were seized in armed Coast Guard raid on husband [Maryland Morning]
  • Baltimore detective convicted of shooting himself to get workers’ comp benefits [WBAL]
  • Santoni’s grocery, southeast Baltimore institution since 1930s, cites city’s beverage bottle tax as reason for closure [Baltimore Sun, auto-plays video]
  • New Maryland laws effective last month include some dubious ideas passed unanimously [Maryland Legislative Watch]

{ 1 comment }

The price of dashboard cameras has dropped to the point of an impulse purchase, but they still haven’t become common in the United States among motorists, those in law enforcement aside. They hold promise as a way of improving the allocation of fault in collisions, and especially in curbing varieties of insurance fraud such as the “swoop-and-squat,” but Popular Mechanics surely hasn’t thought matters through when it asserts, “In the real world, it means you win and the other guy loses in a dispute.” At least if the other guy was in the wrong and the camera was pointed in the right direction…

{ 3 comments }

Maryland roundup

by Walter Olson on August 8, 2013

  • Error-plagued speed camera program even more error-plagued than had been realized [Fox Baltimore]
  • Del. Joseph Vallario, Jr. [D-Prince George's] chairs House Judiciary panel while practicing criminal defense law, but as conflicts of interest go we’ve heard worse [Washington Post]
  • Theme of recent dramshop, contributory-negligence rulings by Maryland Court of Appeals is restraint [Michael Schearer, more; my WaPo letter on the alcohol-serving case; for a view different from mine, Donald Gifford]
  • Pleading guilty in massive Baltimore jail scandal, Tavon White says “many other” guards involved in misconduct, 13 have been indicted [City Paper, Baltimore Sun/CorrectionsOne, AP/HuffPo]
  • One view from the other side on unpopular “rain tax” on impervious surfaces [Tom Coale, HoCo Rising]
  • “Alas, The Maryland Court of Appeals Has Reversed Ford v. Dixon” [on "every fiber, every breath" asbestos theory; David Oliver]
  • What is it with Maryland and surveillance, anyway? State police zealously collect license plate-cam data [J.D. Tuccille]

The perfect arrangement

by Walter Olson on August 5, 2013

It seems Colorado lawmakers are given special license plates that don’t get speed-camera tickets or parking ticket collections. [CBS Denver] Five years ago the Orange County Register reported that hundreds of thousands of state and local employees, spouses and children in California were covered by programs allowing them to exclude their addresses from the system, supposedly to safeguard them against criminal threat — though a great many of the jobs were exceedingly low-risk — with the incidental benefit that toll and red-light-ticket collectors could not reach them, and many parking tickets were left unenforced as well. “This has happened despite warnings from state officials that the safeguard is no longer needed because updated laws have made all DMV information confidential to the public.”

July 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 8, 2013

{ 3 comments }

Maryland roundup

by Walter Olson on June 25, 2013

Florida has shortened yellow-light times at intersections, which raises the danger of crashes but improves revenue for red-light cameras, currently running at more than $100 million a year in the state. [WTSP (auto-plays) via Tabarrok]

{ 1 comment }

Scarecrows for speeders?

by Walter Olson on April 18, 2013

The town of Laurel, Maryland tries using fake traffic cameras. “Maryland law restricts most jurisdictions from putting speed cameras anywhere other than near schools, and they can only operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.” Other neighborhoods wanted cameras installed in hopes of reducing traffic speeds, so the town set up empty boxes. [DCist]

{ 6 comments }

Why they overlap [Noah Kristula-Green, U.S. News]

P.S. There was a flurry of national coverage last week when Cincinnati-area judge Robert Ruehlman struck down a traffic camera ordinance in the village of Elmwood Park, declaring the cameras a “scam” and “high-tech game of three-card monte.” [Cincinnati.com] Readers with long memories may recall that Judge Ruehlman appeared to favorable advantage in these columns back in 1999 when he threw out the city of Cincinnati’s abusive lawsuit against gun manufacturers, trade associations and a distributor, the first of the municipal gun suits to reach trial on the merits.

P.P.S. Why police drones aren’t the same thing privacy-wise as police helicopters [ACLU via HuffPo via Amy Alkon](& Bainbridge)

“A Circuit Court judge has ruled that Baltimore County’s contract with its speed camera vendor is illegal, because it pays the company a cut of each citation issued…. Maryland law says that ‘if a contractor operates a speed camera system on behalf of a local jurisdiction, the contractor’s fee may not be contingent on the number of citations issued or paid.’ But several jurisdictions, including Baltimore County and Baltimore City, pay their vendors a cut of each ticket, arguing that the jurisdiction, not the company, operates the cameras.” Judge Susan Souder ruled that Xerox State and Local Solutions, which currently “receives about $19 from every $40 ticket,” is indeed involved in the operation of the cameras. Del. Michael Smigiel, an Eastern Shore Republican, has introduced a bill to repeal the camera program: “We specifically said we’re not going to allow this to happen, and it happened,” he said. [Baltimore Sun, auto-plays video]

{ 1 comment }

  • Why you should discount many “minor offender faces eleventy-billion-year sentence” stories [Popehat] One day of smurfing made her a “career offender” [Sullivan]
  • “In Dog We Trust”: Scott Greenfield and Radley Balko dissent from unanimous SCOTUS verdict on police canines [Simple Justice, Huffington Post]
  • Arizona lawmaker would make it felony to impersonate someone on social media [Citizen Media Law]
  • “Can juries tame prosecutors gone wild?” [Leon Neyfakh, Boston Globe "Ideas"]
  • “Cop exposes D.C. speed camera racket” [Radley Balko] How Rockville, Md. squeezes drivers who stop in front of the white line or do rolling right turns [WTOP]
  • After scandal: “Pennsylvania Senate Passes Legislation to Eliminate Philadelphia Traffic Court” [Legal Intelligencer, earlier]
  • Bloomberg precursor? When Mayor LaGuardia got NYC to ban pinball [Sullivan]

{ 1 comment }

San Diego mayor Bob Filner says the city will discontinue its use of traffic cameras now that a contract is expiring. The cameras, which often resulted in $500 fines levied on tourists, produced $1.9 million in gross revenue in fiscal 2011, but the city was left with only $200,000 of that “after paying the officers who issued the tickets, a camera vendor and other costs.” [Union-Tribune]

{ 1 comment }

  • Forensics scandal keeps widening, as FBI agents trained state and local examiners in faulty methods [WaPo, Radley Balko] New York Times wades into case of Mississippi pathologist Steven Hayne [Reason] “Massachusetts Lab Scandal Leads to Fears of the Guilty Being Freed, Not So Much About the Innocent Being Jailed” [Shackford]
  • “Speed camera reform gains momentum with Maryland lawmakers” [Washington Examiner, editorial, WBAL]
  • “Gas masks, helmets for state alcohol-control agents — Everyone is a law-enforcement agent these days” [Steven Greenhut/PSI]
  • How the media hatched the “bath salts face-chewer” tale [Sullum]
  • “FBI investigating Utah state trooper for arresting sober people, charging them with DUI, lying on witness stand.” [@radleybalko summarizing Salt Lake City Tribune]
  • Looking forward to 2013 docket in white-collar crime [Peter Henning, NYT DealBook]
  • Bruce Green (Fordham), “Prosecutors and Professional Regulation” [SSRN via White Collar Crime Prof]