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A new fight over New Miami speed camera cash

A Butler County judge ordered the village of New Miami to repay $3 million last week to speeders who were illegally ticketed via speed cameras, now the two sides are arguing over refund information that is due to the judge by March 10. STAFF FILE PHOTO
A Butler County judge ordered the village of New Miami to repay $3 million last week to speeders who were illegally ticketed via speed cameras, now the two sides are arguing over refund information that is due to the judge by March 10. STAFF FILE PHOTO

A Butler County judge ordered the village of New Miami to repay $3 million last week to speeders who were illegally ticketed via speed cameras, now the two sides are arguing over refund information that is due to the judge by March 10.

MORE: Judge orders $3 million returned to speeders

Judge Michael Oster ordered lawyers for the speeders to produce a spreadsheet listing all drivers who are due refunds. The list, he said, was to be submitted within 30 days of his order, which was issued Feb. 8.

The speed catchers were outlawed in 2014 when now retired Judge Michael Sage found there was a problem with due process.

“I have great concerns about due process in this case,” Sage said said at the time, noting at the heart of due process is the right to have a hearing conducted by a neutral administrator, not one appointed by the police.

“They (drivers) are almost presumed guilty before found guilty,” he said.

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To get that list, Josh Engel, a lawyer for the speeders, said they asked the village for an updated list, but got the “run-around.”

“We expected them to say, ‘Sure, no problem, give us a few hours to find it.’ We know this exists in a single Excel file… they produced one early on in the case,” Engel said. “Instead, we got another run-around, saying they don’t know what files they have, the only person who keeps records at the village is out of town.”

That’s when they filed a notice they planned a deposition on Feb. 16 with the village employee who is in charge of such records. That would be the fiscal officer, but the village told lawyers she is unavailable on that date.

The plaintiffs have requested an updated list of all the people who are owed money, including addresses and driver’s license number, the date of payment, the payment amount and any additional fees charged by New Miami or its vendor Optotraffic.

RELATED: What New Miami bought with speed camera money

They say under the rules they should have been given 28 days to produce the documents — which would exceed Oster’s deadline — but agreed to hold the deposition on Feb. 27.

“The village will work with plaintiff and produce relevant responsive documents in its possession, but it is unable to do so within plaintiffs’ foreshortened time period and in fact cannot comply with that period,” New Miami’s attorney James Englert wrote.

Englert told the Journal-News they are working on getting the documents together and they are handling this issue.

Engel said Oster’s magistrate ordered New Miami to give an update on the documents on Feb. 21. He said this is just another delaying tactic by the village and its attorneys.

“We do not intend to let New Miami push back any of the judge’s deadlines,” Engel said. “The court has ruled that people are entitled to refunds and we believe that these should be paid, plus interest, as soon as possible.”

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