Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

Technical questions bog down hearing on right-on-red constitutional arguments

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Judge Donald Scaglione was hoping to hear robust arguments for and against his decision to toss out right-turn red-light camera tickets that came before him.

"I really want to get to the meat of the issues," Scaglione said at the start of Friday's hearing.

It didn't happen. Instead, the hearing became mired in debate over legal technicalities and procedure.

The hearing ended with some good news, though, for motorists who worried that their right-on-red cases, already dismissed on constitutional grounds, could be resurrected. Those cases are settled for good.

In May, Scaglione issued an order stating why he would begin dismissing right-on-red cases. The order applies only to cases heard in his courtroom and does not affect cases he had heard previously.

Scaglione called the portion of the state law dealing with right-on-red violations "vague (and) arbitrary and capricious." The judge also maintains that the 2010 Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act governing traffic camera programs, which created a defense that says a right turn on red without stopping is permissible if the turn is made "in a careful and prudent manner," fails to define those terms, leading to arbitrary rulings.

Finally, Scaglione contends, a rolling right turn on red can result in two different outcomes, depending on whether an officer stops a driver or the turn is caught on camera.

State Attorney General Pam Bondi objected, arguing that state law requires that the attorney general be notified and given an opportunity to be heard when a party alleges that a state law is unconstitutional. The motion asked Scaglione to order defendants to put their constitutional challenges in writing, then set a hearing to consider the challenges.

Scaglione thought Bondi's representative, Robert Dietz, would come to Friday's hearing prepared to argue the constitutional questions. The judge also invited affected defendants and their attorneys to present arguments.

But Dietz insisted that Scaglione must first set aside scores of cases he has dismissed since his May order. Once the defendants formally send notice to Bondi's office, then constitutional issues can be argued, Dietz said. Defense attorneys argued that Bondi doesn't have legal standing to intervene.

There was another wrinkle. In July, the 5th Circuit Court, acting in its appeal capacity, dismissed an appeal challenging a ruling by County Judge Kurt Hitzemann — the other Hernando judge who hears uniform traffic citations — that photos and videos captured by the city of Brooksville's cameras do not meet the legal burden for evidence.

After that, Scaglione issued orders dismissing right-on-red cases on constitutional grounds, or, in the alternative, the defendant would be found not guilty on evidentiary grounds.

At Friday's hearing, Scaglione and Hitzemann agreed to rule that scores of defendants whose cases were dismissed on constitutional grounds would be found not guilty on evidentiary grounds, rendering the constitutional challenges moot.

But all parties agreed that the constitutionality questions are far from settled. Eventually, a defendant will use that argument as a defense.

"I humbly predict we're going to be back here in three to six months, addressing the same issues again," Scaglione said.

Comments
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

RIVERVIEW — A Riverview woman shot and killed her husband Saturday because he punched her father and wouldn’t say sorry, the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office said. Sabrina Michelle Hendley, 40, faces a first-degree murder charge in th...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.Animal of...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Police investigating shooting outside nightclub

ST. PETERSBURG — Police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred outside a south St. Petersburg nightclub early Saturday morning.Brennan-Aire D. Williams, 28, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving by cab at Bayfront Health. Police invest...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Woman dies in Plant City after SUV flips off road

PLANT CITY — A Seffner woman died Saturday from injuries sustained when her sports utility vehicle flipped off the road and crashed into a fence near the intersection of Tanner Road and State Road 574.Amanda K. Cepeda-Duque, 21, was traveling west on...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Updated: 10 hours ago