A number of posts ago we promised to let you know what to do if you find yourself starring in one of Mayor Marty's red light movies. We've had our Legal Eye working on the problem and had him create a couple of documents that we suggest you use to help defend yourself. Remember, ask for a hearing! (A little disclaimer here... The Eye is not an attorney and we don't want anyone out there thinking that we are practicing law, so if you're not sure and have questions please contact your attorney.)
The basic idea here is for you to require the city to produce all of the information pertaining to the operation of the camera system (The first letter). You have a right to this information as part of your defense and the city has an obligation to produce the information for your review. This letter goes to the Chief of Police, the Director of Traffic Engineering, the Director of Public Safety, and the City Clerk. It is in essence a public records inspection request. You also have the right to discovery of evidence pertaining directly to your case (The second letter). This second letter goes to the City Attorney and the City of Albuquerque City Boards and Commissions. Remember, when sending these letters, send them via registered mail with a return receipt. It's more of a hassle and costs a little more but, the city will not be able to claim that they didn't receive your requests.
There are some other things to remember with regard to your hearing. First, the city must hold a hearing within 90 days. Second, when you arrive at your hearing (be early) make sure you check in and give notice that you will only wait for 30 minutes after the scheduled hearing time. At that time you will begin charging the city $150 per hour, plus attorney's fees (if you have one) which you will bill to the city. Our Eyes on the Inside tell us that people are waiting 3 and 4 hours for their hearings, which in our opinion is intolerable.
Our guess is that the city will be unwilling to supply all of the requested documents. There's a lot of information that would be revealed that would hurt the camera program should it become public. For example, how the monitored intersections are chosen. The Eye maintains that they are most concerned with revenue and have chosen intersections based on the area's overall income rather than its history of traffic accidents.
We've posted these two documents here so that you have some idea of what you can do to defend yourself.
1. Initial Letter
2. Informal Discovery
----- UPDATE -----
We got a couple of questions regarding the red light cameras and thought it would be good to include the answers to these questions right here. Some of this we've discussed in previous posts but here goes.
The way APD and the administration get around the requirement that a law enforcement official witness a misdemeanor is simple... being caught by one of Marty's toll cameras is a civil offense. You won't be charged any points against your license and you won't serve any jail time. You'll be charged or more accurately taxed for your offense.
Another question was, when does the 90 day period begin for setting your court hearing? Our Eyes tell us that the clock starts ticking at the time of the "offense."
Thanks for your comments and if you want to contact The Eye, email us at email@example.com.
The Piercing Truth
This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes