Feb 15, 2017
The town of New Miami, Ohio will be compelled to pay back more than $3 million it extorted from drivers through an unconstitutional red light camera racket. Judge Michael A. Oster, Jr. of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas ruled that the robo-ticket operation run by a corporate vendor called Optotraffic systematically deprived drivers of due process protections. The company would issue letters demanding payment of $180 from each targeted driver who had been photographed passing through a section of the town, which occupies less than a square mile on US Highway 127.
“If the government has created an unconstitutional law/ordinance that has taken people’s money without affording them the necessary due process protections, should not justice demand, and the law require, restitution of that money to the people?” asked Judge Oster in his ruling. “Once the complexities of the law are analyzed, the answer is simple: Yes.”
Like other political cliques caught in acts of institutionalized corruption, the New Miami city government protracted the legal proceedings for as long as it could, insisting that it was immune to liability under the doctrine of “sovereign immunity.” Judge Oster wasn’t persuaded.
“Ohio law is clear that the reimbursement of monies collected pursuant to an unconstitutional enactment or invalid rule is equitable relief, not monetary damages, and is consequently not barred by sovereign immunity,” the judge observed. Accordingly, “No later than thirty days after the filing of this order, plaintiff is to file with the court an affidavit evincing monies paid under the invalidated ordinance, along with an Excel spreadsheet, so that the court can set the proper amount of restitution/refund as determined under the laws of equity.”