TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - The Florida Supreme Court this week declined to hear an appeal in a potentially far-reaching case about the way local governments administer red-light camera programs.
The City of Hollywood asked justices to hear the case after the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled in October that the city violated state law by relying on a private company to issue traffic citations to red-light runners.
The case was filed by motorist Eric Arem, who received a notice that a camera caught him failing to comply with a red-light signal. Arem did not respond and then received a traffic citation generated by American Traffic Solutions, Inc., a company that had a contract with Hollywood to provide cameras and other related services.
A county judge found that Hollywood had improperly delegated responsibilities to the private company and dismissed the citation. A three-judge panel of the appeals court agreed.
The Supreme Court, as is common, did not give reasons for declining to consider the appeal by Hollywood. But in a brief filed in February, attorneys for the city noted that class-action lawsuits were filed against Hollywood and other local governments after the appeals-court ruling, with plaintiffs demanding refunds of fines for red-light camera violations.
Also, the brief said the appeals-court ruling created "confusion in the administration of red light camera safety programs" throughout Florida. "This situation threatens the ongoing efficient administration of these red light camera safety programs, thus undermining the Florida Legislature's express authorization of these programs,'' the brief said.
Arem's attorney filed a brief last month that said the dispute is a case of "first impression" --- a legal term that signals a first-of-its-kind question.
The brief said the appeals court "concluded only law enforcement officers and traffic enforcement officers have the legal authority to issue citations for traffic infractions." An online docket indicates Hollywood last week filed a separate petition with the Supreme Court on the issue.
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