BROOKSVILLE – Nearly 400 drivers who had previously had their red-light camera tickets dismissed in Hernando County recently received a letter stating their cases were being disputed by the Florida Attorney General’s office.
A handful of these drivers and attorneys who take on red-light camera cases were in court on Friday for a hearing presided over by County Judges Donald Scaglione and Kurt Hitzemann.
Also in attendance were Assistant Attorney General Robert Dietz and Brooksville’s city attorney George Angeliadis.
And although Scaglione wanted to “get to the meat” of the constitutional issues, specifically the lack of a cohesive definition of “careful and prudent” for right-on-red turns, Dietz argued the cases in question were not following the correct procedure.
Dietz said if individuals believed there were constitutional issues at play when they were ticketed by red-light cameras, it was the defendant’s responsibility to notify both the judge and attorney general’s office.
“It’s not up to the discretion and authority of the court to review statutes and determine statutes unconstitutional,” Dietz said.
Back on May 7, Scaglione wrote an order, not based on any specific traffic case, stating he had found the majority of right-on-red cases not guilty due to “vague, arbitrary and capricious” language of the statute, and that an individual’s right to due process was violated.
During the hearing, Scaglione said he found the cases not guilty based on evidentiary issues. Neither judge has allowed red-light camera footage in court because of the “silent witness” rule.
After about 40 minutes of debate consisting of highly technical and legal jargon, Scaglione and Hitzemann made sure the motorists at the hearing knew what they were talking about.
“The bottom line is … if you were not guilty before you’re going to be not guilty walking out the door,” Hitzemann said.
“So why am I here?” said a man in the audience.
“Because under the rules, hearing the argument about procedure, they (the attorney general) have to give notice,” Scaglione said.
After a brief recess, Scaglione said he anticipated having a similar hearing on the constitutional issues in “three to six months.”
James Walker, executive direction of the National Motorists Association Foundation and member of the National Motorists Association, previously told Hernando Today Brooksville has the “most predatory” rules for right-on-red turns in the state.
Brooksville defines “prudent” as 5 mph or lower, but Walker said the safest right-on-red turns would be between 15 and 19 mph.
Brooksville Police Chief George Turner previously told Hernando Today the 5-mph rule was set by city council and adopted into the ordinance.