ORLANDO, Fla. - The city of Orlando is appealing an Orange County judge's ruling dismissing more than 100 traffic tickets issued to drivers caught on camera running red lights.
The judge dismissed those cases in March when it was discovered the city wasn't adhering to the law in the way it collected the photographs from red lights cameras placed throughout the city.
Under Florida law, the images must be submitted to the court by a sworn peace officer. In Orlando's case, the images were being sent from the cameras' manufacturer in Arizona directly to the court clerk. No law enforcement was ever involved.
"Once the judge heard it, that's when they started dismissing all of the tickets," said attorney LeRoy Costner.
Costner is one of four defense attorneys fighting on behalf of 55 people targeted in the City of Orlando's appeal.
"The [Orange] County didn't appeal their cases, the city of Winter Park had some, and they didn't appeal theirs. Only the city of Orlando is going ahead with their appeal," Costner said. "I was just shocked. It's the kind of thing you want to think is a joke."
Nobody is laughing about the cost.
Each of these 55 drivers got a ticket that would cost him or her around $270 in fines.
The private law firm hired by the city is reportedly charging Orlando $250 per hour to appeal these cases. That's in addition to the court fees of $270 per case.
Bottom line -- it's costing the city more to fight the judge's ruling than it would have gotten from the tickets alone.
The city has since changed the way it submits images to the court to comply with the law.
"They had their chance," Costner said. "They knew they were doing things improperly. OK, you take your loss, you go home. You fix the things you did wrong, so next time you come to court and you don't get smacked in the face."
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