12/16/2021Ohio Supreme Court Repels Law School Graduate Attack On Speed Cameras
Ohio Supreme Court justices decline to stop the village of Brice from issuing photo radar tickets that cannot be enforced.
By Richard Diamond
The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to prevent the village of Brice from issuing photo radar tickets that cannot be legally enforced. Alexander Maxwell, a recent graduate from the Ohio State University law school, sought an order shutting the speed trap down, arguing the current situation is built on deception since photo tickets are immediately dismissed once the recipient sends an email or makes a phone call to challenge the notice received in the mail -- but few individuals know to do so.
Maxwell argued the village's conduct violates the high court's ruling in Magsig last year, which held that the state court system had the exclusive authority to hear challenges to photo tickets (view decision). The village has been sending notices out as if administrative hearings were still valid.
Maxwell received just such a notice after his 2019 Jeep was photographed on December 5, 2020. The private firm Blue Line Solutions mailed Maxwell a demand that he pay $125, or appear before the sort of village-run administrative hearing explicitly prohibited under state law. After receiving that notice, Maxwell filed a complaint directly with the high court.
"The village of Brice is living in an alternate reality, where they can ignore this court's unanimous decision in State ex. rel Magsig v. Toledo," Maxwell wrote in his brief to the justices. "This court should grant a writ of prohibition to make it abundantly clear that the village of Brice lacks the authority to adjudicate administrative citations."
To avoid a conflict, the village decided to cancel Maxwell's citation.
"The village of Brice is no longer holding administrative hearings under its Photo Speed Division/civil citation system," Brice mayor John Mathys told the justices. "And, the village will not hold any administrative hearings, unless and until, the jurisdictional issue related to such hearings is determined on final appeal."
The village made this claim to avoid having the high court issue a formal writ of prohibition that would have shut down the photo ticketing system entirely. Maxwell attempted to revive his claim by striking the village's assertions on technicalities, but the justices saw no reason to go that far.
"There is no evidence in the record contradicting the village's evidence that it has ceased conducting administrative hearings for traffic citations, including Maxwell's," the court held in its unanimous ruling.
The court was not persuaded that the village has simply been dismissing any challenges to avoid high court review of its conduct. The court's review of records showed Brice has not collected photo radar fine from a hearing since January 2021.
"Based on the testimony of the village's mayor that the village no longer conducts administrative hearings on traffic citations, we deny the writ of prohibition as moot," the justices concluded.