Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco judge challenges constitutionality of red light cameras

PORT RICHEY — Thomas Filippone said he doesn't think people should run red lights.

But when he received a citation in the mail from the city of Port Richey saying he was caught on camera running one, the former New Jersey insurance attorney decided not to pay the $158 ticket without a fight. He filed his own 11-page motion to dismiss the ticket, arguing Florida law unconstitutionally places the burden of proof on defendants.

"If they are going to prove I was driving the car, it's their duty under the law to prove the identity of the driver," said Filippone, 45, who maintains his 2002 Nissan Altima crossed the intersection a split second before the light turned red on April 15. "It unjustly shifts burden to me and makes me shoulder the burden of having to prove their case."

Pasco County Judge Anne Wansboro agreed. On Feb. 17, she dismissed the charge, saying in her order that the law "impermissibly shifts the burden of proof to the Defendant and therefore does not afford due process, and is unconstitutional to the extent due process is not provided."

Her order has officials in areas with red light cameras taking notice, but no one is taking down cameras yet.

Especially not those in Port Richey, where officials plan to appeal Wansboro's ruling.

"We do not agree with the decision," said City Manager Tom O'Neill, who said the city was not notified of any constitutional challenge to its two red light cameras on U.S. 19. "It would be our position that we were not afforded due process and did not have the opportunity to speak."

Wansboro did not return a message Tuesday for comment.

Port Richey city attorney Joe Poblick said officials have also notified the Florida Attorney General's Office of the ruling. The state Constitution requires that the attorney general be notified whenever a state statute's constitutionality is at issue.

Because the order struck down the law on constitutional grounds, any appeal would have to be made to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Brad Weissman, deputy Fort Lauderdale city attorney, said his city has a ruling from Broward County Judge Steven Deluca that says the opposite of Wansboro's order.

"It won't have any effect on us," he said.

Officials in New Port Richey, which also has red light cameras along U.S. 19, discussed the order but said they plan to wait and see.

"I didn't really understand why the judge threw it out," City Manager John Schneiger said of the rule. "That's something we are going to have to look into."

St. Petersburg transportation services director Joe Kubicki said officials also will be keeping tabs.

"We don't see it impacting us," he said. "If it survives the appeals process, then we'll look at our 23 cameras."

It's the same in Hillsborough.

"This is not the first court that has ruled it unconstitutional," said Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon. "We're going to keep operating as we have been."

Brooksville city attorney Robert "Butch" Battista said he had not seen the court ruling and couldn't say how it might affect the ongoing class-action lawsuit filed against the city and American Traffic Solutions in 2009.

Filippone said it should at the very least benefit him and other Pasco drivers.

"I don't think I should get another red light ticket in Pasco County for the rest of my life," he said. "In my opinion, it's precedent."

He said he plans to use it on April 11, when he is due to go to traffic court for a second red light citation at another Port Richey intersection.

Not only should his own citation be dismissed, he plans to argue, but so should the citation for everyone else in the courtroom with a red light camera ticket.

"I'm looking forward to going to court," he said. "I know a lot of people who are infuriated."

Staff writers Jessica Vander Velde and Logan Neill, correspondent Robert Napper and researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

Pasco judge challenges constitutionality of red light cameras 03/20/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 10:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Pete council advances limits on PAC money in city elections


    In front of large group of red-shirted supporters, the St. Petersburg City Council gave initial approval Thursday to an ordinance limiting campaign contributions to $5,000 from political action committees.

    A large crowd gathered Thursday to support passage of a controversial measure to limit campaign spending in city elections
  2. Bill Nelson on GOP health care bill: 'Now we know why they tried to keep this secret'


    WASHINGTON - Sen. Bill Nelson lashed out at the GOP health care plan released Thursday, deeming it "just as bad as the House bill."

    Reporters on Thursday wait for Republican senators to leave a briefing on the health care bill
  3. Video: Loggerhead sea turtle found in Islamorada resident's pool


    An adult female loggerhead sea turtle, discovered in an oceanside residential pool in Islamorada on Monday, has been rescued and released off the Florida Keys.

    An adult female loggerhead sea turtle, discovered in an oceanside residential pool in Islamorada on June 22, 2017, has been rescued and released off the Florida Keys. [Photo from video]

  4. What Wilson Ramos will mean to the Rays lineup, pitching

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer was stumping for all-star votes for Corey Dickerson during a live interview Wednesday morning on the MLB Network when he lifted the right earpiece on his headset and said, "I hear a buffalo coming."

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos (40) waves to the crowd after being presented with the Silver Slugger Award before the start of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.
  5. Deon Cain, Duke Dawson, Derrick Nnadi among SI's top 100 players


    Sports Illustrated's countdown of the top 100 players in college football continues with three more local players.