Ohio Supreme Court allows $3.5M New Miami speed camera case to keep rolling

The Ohio Supreme Court accepted review of the New Miami speed camera case Tuesday, signaling it might finally be ready to decide significant due process rights, according to attorneys.

In a 4-3 decision, the high court accepted jurisdiction over the appeal filed by a group of about 33,000 speeders who took the tiny village to court in 2013 over what they said was an unconstitutional, unmanned speed camera program.

The speeders claim they are owed almost $3.5 million. One of their attorneys, Josh Engel, said the decision signals the court, which has issued other speed decisions statewide, is ready to tackle the big the question.

That question: What process is necessary to actually levy a fine to those officials believe have violated a law?

“The issue of speed cameras has been before the Ohio Supreme Court a lot,” Engel told the Journal-News. “The Supreme Court has never addressed the level of due process that has to be provided to motorists. In fact a number of times they have said, ‘Look, we’re not going to reach this issue.’ Every time it’s been before the court, it’s been on sort of technical issues like home rule authority or jurisdiction.”

The speeders claimed the Automated Speed Enforcement Program (ASEP) violated their due process rights because an administrative hearing rather than court proceeding was used. The speeders demanded the village refund around $3 million collected on the $95 tickets. Accumulated interest was tallied at more than $400,000.

New Miami’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment. The village has spent more than $360,000 fighting this case that has gone to the appeals courts several times.

The litigation has taken three visits to the 12th District and two visits to the Ohio Supreme Court, where jurisdiction was denied. New Miami challenged the lower court’s rulings on class action status twice and a sovereign immunity issue. Until Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Oster issued his final judgment, the village could not appeal the entire case.

New Miami has maintained it has home rule authority to enforce traffic laws and keep its citizens safe from motorists who speed.

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