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Judge wants to hear from state attorney in Brooksville red-light camera case

BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County judge said Monday that he wants to hear additional arguments from the State Attorney's Office before deciding whether to dismiss a traffic citation issued recently under Brooksville's red-light camera program.

Although the city provided legal counsel for Monday's hearing, County Judge Kurt Hitzemann agreed with defense attorney Peyton Hyslop that the citation was issued under state statute, and the city therefore had no relevant legal standing in the matter.

In his argument, Hyslop, who is representing Spring Hill resident Julio Carral, questioned the validity of the traffic-monitoring devices on several legal grounds, including whether the cameras deny vehicle owners their right to due process.

Last month, Carral received a citation in the mail telling him that his 2005 Lexus sedan was photographed on May 23 running a red light at U.S. 41 and Wiscon Road. He never paid the ticket, opting to fight the violation in court.

Testifying for the city, Brooksville police officer Jeremy Jefferys explained that he reviews photos and videos of suspected violators sent from the camera operator, Sensys America, before determining whether a citation will be issued to the vehicle owner. Owners have 30 days to decide how to respond.

Of the more than 3,200 citations issued since the Brooksville program was reinstated this year, none have been challenged in court.

Hyslop said he found fault with the state statute governing the cameras, saying it allows the privately owned camera vendors to act as a collection agent for the $158 fines while limiting clients' ability to challenge citations.

"The statute doesn't allow you to plead not guilty, but forces you to act against your own interest," Hyslop said. "Unless you provide an affidavit saying someone else was driving at the time, you're going to have to pay it one way or another."

Hitzemann allowed the State Attorney's Office 20 days to file a legal brief. Hyslop will then be allowed time to file a response.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@tampabay.com.

Judge wants to hear from state attorney in Brooksville red-light camera case 08/27/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 9:55pm]
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