Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Toledo Asks Supreme Court to Uphold Hearing Process for Camera Enforcement of Traffic Laws

Court to Hear Seven Cases on June 10 and 11

Image of an empty Supreme Court of Ohio bench in the courtroom of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

The Supreme Court will consider questions about the authority of probate judges, subpoenas for alcohol breath-test machine data, and obligations of insurance companies in employee injury claims during this week’s session.

Image of an empty Supreme Court of Ohio bench in the courtroom of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

The Supreme Court will consider questions about the authority of probate judges, subpoenas for alcohol breath-test machine data, and obligations of insurance companies in employee injury claims during this week’s session.

The constitutionality of the appeals process for Toledo’s system using traffic cameras to catch those running a red light or speeding is one of seven cases the Supreme Court of Ohio will consider during next week’s oral arguments.

The city partnered with Redflex Traffic Systems to launch the automated enforcement system in 2003. Once a vehicle is photographed for an offense, the auto’s owner is sent a notice, and the owner may request a hearing to dispute the ticket. In 2009, Bradley L. Walker received a notice and paid the $120 penalty. He later filed a lawsuit claiming in part that the city ordinance is unconstitutional because the municipal court, not an administrative hearing officer, has jurisdiction over violations of all city laws.

Toledo argues that the ordinance falls under home-rule authority, which allows municipalities to govern themselves. The city contends that traffic camera enforcement and the appeals process comprise a “complementary system of civil enforcement” and do not usurp the power of the municipal court. Also, the decisions of hearing officers may be appealed to the municipal court, the city maintains.

The Supreme Court will hear four cases on Tuesday, June 10. Along with City of Toledo et al. v. Walker, the court will consider two other appeals on Wednesday, June 11. The court’s sessions begin at 9 a.m. each day at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus. The arguments will be streamed live online at sc.ohio.gov and broadcast live on The Ohio Channel.

Along with the brief descriptions below, the Office of Public Information today released summaries of the seven cases.

Cases for Tuesday, June 10
These four cases are on the court’s agenda for Tuesday’s session:

  • In Bode v. State, a man convicted in Fairfield County of driving under the influence of alcohol contests the use of a juvenile conviction to increase his current sentence. As a juvenile, he had to complete a three-day driver intervention program. Because the five-time offender did not have an attorney at his juvenile hearing and, in his view, treatment constituted confinement, he argues that his juvenile offense cannot be used to enhance the penalties for his current crime.
  • State v. Brown, State v. Shipley, and State v. McCloude center on a law specifying that probate judges are not judges and probate courts are not courts. After a Stark County probate judge approved a warrant to search the defendants’ business in Alliance, the municipal and appellate courts ruled that the judge did not have the authority to issue the warrant. The city contends it is an oversight that the statute is still on the books, stemming from a time when probate courts were separate from the rest of Ohio’s courts.
  • The carpenter in Cincinnati Insurance Companies v. DTJ Enterprises and Hoyle fell from a scaffold while working at a Cuyahoga Falls apartment complex. He filed a civil lawsuit against his employer seeking damages for his injuries. The insurance company maintains that it is not obligated, under its policy, to cover the employer for a claim alleging the employer deliberately removed an equipment safety guard.
  • The state attorney disciplinary board in Disciplinary Counsel v. Smith recommends that a Pepper Pike attorney be indefinitely suspended for unethical billing practices. The attorney objects to the board’s findings, asserting that his representation of nursing homes required a specialized method of billing to protect the companies from liability.

Cases for Wednesday, June 11
The court will hear arguments in Walker and these two cases during Wednesday’s session:

  • In Bevly v. State, a man confessed and pled guilty in Franklin County to gross sexual imposition of a child under 13 years old. When evidence other than the victim’s testimony supports the conviction, state law requires a mandatory prison term. The man argues that corroborating evidence, such as a confession, is an element of the crime and must be considered by a jury, based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
  • City prosecutors were barred in City of Cincinnati v. Ilg from using the results from a machine that tests alcohol in the breath after the state health department did not provide data a defendant requested in a subpoena. The city asserts that the man is challenging the general reliability of the instrument, rather than his specific tests, and general attacks are prohibited by a 1984 Ohio Supreme Court ruling.
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