12/19/2019Ohio Attorney General Wants Photo Ticket Hearings Shut Down
Ohio attorney general says state Supreme Court should shut down photo radar administrative hearings.
The guilt or innocence of Ohio motorists should be decided by judges, not police officers or other municipal appointees, state Attorney General Dave Yost told the Ohio Supreme Court last week. Yost submitted a written brief backing the high-court challenge motorist Susan D. Magsig is mounting against Toledo. Magsig realized that, instead of fighting a ticket in the lower courts, she could bring the case directly to the state Supreme Court because it directly implicated an abuse of judicial authority that only the Supreme Court could resolve.
"The attorney general supports Susan Magsig's request for a writ of prohibition against the city of Toledo," Yost wrote to the Supreme Court. "The reason is that Toledo's ordinance allowing its police department to adjudicate traffic violations contradicts state law."
Toledo and other cities with photo ticketing devices say they are not bound by House Bill 62 (view law), which directly grants "exclusive jurisdiction" over photo tickets to the municipal court system. The General Assembly enacted the measure as a means of ending the use of administrative hearings in which the judgments are made by individuals who answer to the mayor, city council or police chief. The attorney general argued that this case is "as plain as can be" since all the court needs to do to resolve the dispute is issue an order shutting down the administrative hearings, as the new speed camera law requires.
"The narrow relief Magsig seeks does not require this court to do anything but give Revised Code 1901.20 its plain meaning," Yost wrote. "The court need not delve into any ancillary issues."
Toledo has asserted it does not need to follow the law because a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge in June issued a preliminary injunction blocking some restrictions placed against the use of speed cameras. Yost pointed out that the injunction only applies to the parties involved in that particular lawsuit -- not Magsig or the Ohio Supreme Court.
"While the state disagrees with that ruling, it has nothing to do with this case: the jurisdiction law binds the state alone," Yost explained.