Area village won’t have to repay $3M to 33,000 speeders caught on camera

The old New Miami speed cameras shown here were replaced

After years of legal wrangling, the 12th District Court of Appeals has ruled New Miami’s speed camera program was constitutional and the cash-strapped Butler County village does not have to return $3.4 million to speeders.

A group of about 33,000 speeders took the tiny village to court seven years ago over what they said was an unconstitutional, unmanned speed camera program. They 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.

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Court of Appeals Judge Robert Ringland and his fellow judges said the common pleas judges who found fault with the process were wrong.

“Plaintiffs' arguments concerning the use of hearsay and lack of discovery and subpoena power are unavailing,” Ringland in the opinion released today. “ASEP afforded the recipient of a notice of liability with a reasonable opportunity to present a defense based on the most likely grounds.”

12th District Judge Robin Piper agreed with the legal opinion but wrote a separate concurrence because he still has issues with the program.

One of the speeders' attorneys, Josh Engel, said they are considering an Ohio Supreme Court appeal.

“We are disappointed, especially since the court (and particularly Judge Piper) seemed to recognize the unfairness of a system designed primarily for profit, not safety,” Engel told the Journal-News.

Retired Butler County Judge Michael Sage deemed the program unlawful in March 2014 and Judge Michael Oster affirmed that ruling and ordered the village repay the tickets and around $400,000 in interest.

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New Miami’s outside counsel James Englert said he could not comment until he read the decision.

The speed cameras won’t begin rolling again any time soon however because the village is also locked in litigation with the state over punitive new laws that have curtailed their program. New Miami asked Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard to issue a temporary restraining order and injunction against the state. Howard denied the TRO and has yet to rule on the injunction.

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