Judge rules New Orleans traffic cameras violate city charter

Alejandro de los Rios Oct. 1, 2010, 3:36pm

Judge Landrieu

Mayor Landrieu

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Paulette Irons has ruled that New Orleans' red-light and traffic cameras violate the city charter and has placed an injunction on the city to prevent it from issuing any more tickets.

Judge Irons ruled against the city in an injunction hearing Friday morning brought by four New Orleans residents who were issued traffic tickets by the city's Automated Traffic Enforcement System (ATES).

New Orleans attorney Edward Washington III filed the petition for injunction on Sept. 20. It claims that the New Orleans city charter gives the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) "the sole authority to enforce traffic regulations such as running a red light or speeding."

Currently, ATES is run by the New Orleans Department of Public Works. Plaintiffs successfully argued that the current city charter has not been amended to give the Public Works office authority to regulate traffic violations.

Plaintiff counsel argued that the city's ATES program "constitutes negligence by [the city's] failure to ensure that the law provided legal authority for the issuance of traffic camera tickets."

The case has been re-allotted twice. It was originally assigned to Judge Herbert Cade, who recused himself because his son is employed by the city as a traffic hearing officer. It was re-assigned to Judge Madeline Landrieu who also recused herself because the suit is against the city and her brother, Mitch Landrieu, is mayor.

New Orleans assistant city attorney Dietrich Hebert is representing the city in this suit.

Metairie attorney Joseph McMahon III is currently seeking class certification in a related suit against the city which claims that the traffic cameras are unconstitutional. That suit seeks to refund all tickets issued by ATES, potentially costing the city nearly $10 million.

Orleans Parish Case 2010-09732

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