Traffic camera appeals to be handled in Orleans Parish Civil District Court

Alejandro de los Rios Oct. 11, 2011, 4:16am


Despite earlier plans to transfer the responsibility of traffic camera appeals to Traffic Court, the process will remain in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Back in May, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office said the city intended to streamline and make the appeals process more cost-effective and convenient for residents.

A city ordinance was introduced but it has been recently withdrawn as it became apparent that state statute dictates that Traffic Court appeals are handled in the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

A mayor's spokesman said that the city considers traffic violations caught via traffic cameras are civil matters and rulings shouldn't be heard in criminal court.

The initial proposal to move the appeals process came as a result of the fact that the Civil Court charges a $10 fee for appeals, whereas traffic court doesn't charge at all.

The Orleans Parish Civil Court has also been the venue for several lawsuits in relation to the traffic cameras located throughout the city.

Metairie lawyer Joseph McMahon III filed the suit in March 2010, claiming that the Automated Traffic Enforcement System (ATES) installed by the city of New Orleans is unconstitutional. McMahon filed the suit after he successfully fought a ticket issued against him for running a red light in Orleans Parish.

Tickets for running a red light cost $145 while speeding tickets can range from $80 to $240. New Orleans has collected at least $9.4 million in revenues from the tickets and a proposed 2011 budget projects $18 million in revenue this year.

That case has been reassigned to four different judges because the first three presiding over the case had to recuse themselves after being issued tickets through the traffic cameras.

McMahon filed his class action suit despite defense opposition that "hearing on a class certification is improper because the city has not made an appearance before the court in the present matter."

In another suit filed December 2010, New Orleans attorney Joseph Albe filed a petition for judicial review on behalf of his wife who received a speeding ticket from an automated traffic camera. Julien is also hearing a case filed pro se by Orleans resident Paul Valteau Jr.

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