New Orleans vows to appeal judge's ruling that bans red light cameras

Alejandro de los Rios Oct. 12, 2010, 5:16am


The city of New Orleans has pledged to appeal a ruling by the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld a ruling in Orleans Parish Civil District Court which deemed the city's red light traffic cameras illegal.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office said that the city will "immediately seek a review" of the circuit court's ruling. On Oct. 7, the court upheld a ruling by Orleans Parish Judge Paulette Irons, who ruled that the traffic cameras violated the New Orleans city charter, because the charter does not authorize the Public Works Department to administer traffic tickets.

Judges Patricia Murray, Charles Jones and Dennis Bagneris of the 4th Circuit would not overturn Iron's injunction ordering the city to cease issuing traffic camera tickets. The appeals court kept a stay on the ruling until Oct. 14 to allow the city to seek a rehearing or appeal to the Supreme Court.

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, the city's Automated Traffic Enforcement System 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.

According to the Times-Picayune, New Orleans was looking to generate $14 million from camera-issued tickets in 2010 and $15 million in 2011. Landrieu's office said that if the ruling is upheld, it could "impact essential city services and could result in additional furloughs and closing of city facilities."

Thought not closed for Columbus Day, City Hall workers took a furlough day on Oct. 11.

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

There is also a possible class action suit in Orleans Parish related to the city traffic cameras. 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 the red-light cameras, potentially costing the city nearly $10 million.

Orleans Parish Case 2010-09732

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