It’s another win for Boynton Beach in the world of red-light cameras — but a loss for those who thought they weren’t going to have to pay their tickets.
On Tuesday, the city’s assistant attorney announced an appellate panel of Palm Beach County’s circuit judges overturned an April 2015 ruling that tossed more than 100 red-light tickets.
That’s welcome news to Commissioner Justin Katz, a supporter of the program.
“For me personally it just validates my position that this is not only an issue that promotes public safety, and it’s been proven time and time again to be constitutional,” Katz said.
Despite the ruling, the city is still expected to stop the camera program just before midnight on New Year’s Eve.
The city commission in August voted to continue the program, with Commissioner Christina Romelus as the swing vote, moving the majority to approval. But three weeks later, Romelus changed her mind, and her vote, putting an end to the program with the new year. Romelus said she was torn on the issue, but ultimately decided she’d rather use money to have more police on the streets.
Katz said he doesn’t plan to use the ruling as leverage to attempt to convince the rest of the commission to bring back the program. Instead, he hopes in the future the commission will be more open to using technology in the city’s police services.
“I’m hopeful it will eventually become an issue again,” he said.
The original court ruling came in April 2015. It started with Lendon Boss, who received a red-light ticket in Boynton. Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Mark T. Eissey dismissed his ticket, based on the ruling in the City of Hollywood v. Arem case.
In that 2014 ruling, the West Palm Beach-based 4th District Court of Appeal said Hollywood’s program violated state law by relying on vendor American Traffic Solutions to issue the citations to the drivers. Boynton uses the same vendor. Eissey also dismissed more than 100 other tickets the same day, and issued a standing order of dismissal.
Then the city appealed.
While other cities in South Florida stopped programs after the Arem case, Boynton continued.
In late September, an appellate panel of Palm Beach County’s circuit judges agreed with Boynton’s attorneys and reversed Eissey’s dismissal of Boss’ ticket. The panel said Boynton’s program is different from the Arem case.
“Most critically … here (American Traffic Solutions) does not itself issue the (citation),” the September ruling reads.
And, Boynton’s contract with the vendor establishes that the vendor doesn’t make decisions whether a violation occurred, it says.
The ruling that came Monday reversed Eissey’s decision on the rest of the tickets.
“…here the city’s contract with ATS specifically establishes that ATS does not and cannot make any decisions regarding whether a violation occurred,” the ruling reads. “Most critical… here ATS does not itself issue the UTC.”