AP — An Iowa woman who says she was wrongly ticketed by an automated traffic camera when she wasn’t speeding has accomplished the unusual feat of getting the state Supreme Court to consider her $75 small-claims case.
For Marla Leaf, 67, it’s not about money, but about constitutional rights. Her attorney, James Larew, will argue Wednesday that the city of Cedar Rapids, where Leaf lives and was ticketed, is violating equal protection and due process clauses of the Iowa Constitution in part because it delegates police power to Gatso USA — the private, for-profit company hired to run the equipment.
You know how I know Iowa knows that speeding tickets from traffic cameras are bogus? The fine is only $75. The last time someone I know got popped for speeding by an actual police officer the fine was $150. If Iowa thought their traffic cameras were infallible, they would charge the same fine an actual police officer would charge. A fine of $75 is just small enough to not be worth your time to fight it. Not to Marla Leaf, though.
I admire Marla Leaf’s conviction. I’ve paid my fair share of unjust parking tickets, and would have loved to have brought them all to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. But after being told to pound sand enough times by parking clerks in the basement of city hall, I’ve learned to just pay my “parking tax” once or twice a year and move on. That’s not how Marla rolls.
I’ve always thought that traffic cameras were bogus. I hate that Massachusetts has moved to all electronic tolling. There’s no way I’m not getting hosed making an airport run eventually. So I’m rooting for Marla and her attorney. If I am legitimately speeding and get pulled over by a police officer, I will pay my ticket. But if I get ticketed by a traffic camera, I’m going to call shenanigans every time. I’d love to see Marla put Gatso USA out of business. The company that produces and operates cameras to fine motorists has to be run by the kids who reminded teachers they forgot to assign homework.
Let’s just hope that Jimmy Larew is a better barrister than Newman.