With litigation pending all over Ohio about traffic cameras and the 2019 statutes governing traffic camera programs, we are all having difficulty keeping track of the issues and court decisions surrounding these issues. Here is where Cuyahoga County is, in a nutshell, as of July 1, 2020.
On June 24, 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a Slip Opinion in State Ex Rel Magsig v. Toldeo, 2020-Ohio-3426, which holds that municipal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over noncriminal traffic law adjudications, i.e. traffic camera tickets, pursuant to ORC §1901.20 (A) (1). That means municipalities who have traffic camera programs cannot have Mayor’s Courts or hearing officers hear appeals or objections to traffic camera tickets.
The requirements and procedures for traffic camera programs are set forth in ORC §§ 4511.093 through 4511.099. Exclusive jurisdiction was vested in municipal courts by amendments to ORC §1901.20(A)(1) at the same time. These provisions went into effect on July 3, 2019 and spurred another round of litigation.
On October 10, 2019, Judge Wanda C. Jones of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Village of Newburgh Heights, et al. v. State of Ohio, Case No.: CV-19-917408, issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the State from enforcing the provisions of ORC §4511.093 which require that a law enforcement officer be present at every device location at all times during operation. She declined to enjoin any other provision.
On December 4, 2019, Presiding Judge Raymond C. Headen of the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Case Nos. 109106 and 190114, expanded the injunctive relief to include a prohibition against enforcement of exclusive jurisdiction in municipal courts, which is now rendered moot by Magsig, above.
Also, Judge Headen’s decision stayed the requirement that the municipality pay, in advance, a non-recoverable filing fee to the municipal court on all traffic camera tickets issued- not just appealed tickets, which is set forth in ORC §4511.099. The advance payment of a filing fee is not required in school zones and the party that prevails on a school zone ticket pays the costs.
Neither Judge Jones nor Judge Headen stayed the provision that reduces the local government fund allocation to municipalities with a traffic camera program which goes into effect on July 25, 2020.
Issues to be decided by the Court of Appeals are whether
• A police officer must be present at the traffic camera location while in operation
• The municipality must pay the filing fees to the municipal court
• The State can reduce the local government fund allocation
If you are interested in traffic camera issues, reading the most recent statutes is quick and interesting. We will have to wait for the ultimate outcome of Village of Newburgh Heights, et al. v. State of Ohio, above to see if municipalities still consider it financially feasible to continue traffic camera programs.