A lawsuit was filed today in an effort to stop the enforcement of the automatic speed enforcement systems — speed cameras — in the Village of Elmwood Place.
Attorney Mike Allen filed the lawsuit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. The lawsuit seeks a declaratuion that the cameras violate Ohio law and the due process guarantees conatined in the Ohio Constitution. The court will be asked to issue a restraining order stopping their use.
FOX19.com-Cincinnati News, Weather
Allen told the media that the speed traps were not properly marked and tickets were issued for going a single mile an hour over the speed limit. The Village of Elmwood Place denies these allegations.
Previous coverage of the issue on this issue can be found here:
Mixed Results in Past Civil Rights Cases Against Speed Cameras Like in Elmwood Place:
Elmwood Place Traffic Cameras May Violate Civil Rights
More information will be placed on the CinciCrime blog as the case develops.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that a routine traffic stop in Mason this weekend resulted in felony drug charges for possession of marijuana.
Marijuana Seized by Highway Patrol in Mason for Felony Drug Charges.
The Patrol reported that a trooper pulled over a 1997 Ford Thunderbird on Saturday afternoon for a speed violation. The detected a strong odor of marijuana from the vehicle’s passenger compartment. A search of the vehicle revealed a Ziploc baggie under the driver’s seat containing about 226 grams of marijuana with a street value of about $375.
The driver, Clifford Justin Abner, 29, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, a fifth-degree felony. If convicted, he faces up to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine.
This case illustrates how a routine traffic stop and what appears like a simple felony drug possession case can, in fact, be very complicated. The case raises a number of significant Fourth Amendment issues.
The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant. Two issues in this case are immediately apparent:
- Did the officer have probable cause for the initial stop of the vehicle? In general, if an officer witnesses a traffic violation, the officer may make a traffic stop. Speeding is sufficient. However, further investigation could reveal that the trooper did not really have sufficient information to justify the stop, or could have been unlawfully targeting certain drivers for enforcement.
- Was the search of the vehicle legal? Courts have been relatively lenient in permitting officers to search vehicles when there is probable cause to believe that contraband is present. This is referred to as the “automobile exception.” However, simply the smell of marijuana may not be sufficient to justify a stop if the driver does not appear to be impaired. And recent supreme Court decisions have restricted law enforcement discretion in a number of significant ways when dealing with cars.
The important lesson is that what appears to be a routine criminal case – whether felony drug possession, trafficking, or something else, may not be routine at all. For this reason, anyone facing criminal charges should remember to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who may be able to spot issues that others miss.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that a Kentucky man will spend 8 1/2 months in prison for running a red light and killing a couple. He also must pay a $7,500 fine, complete 400 hours of community service; his driver’s license was suspended for five years.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Ky. 17 (Madison Pike) and Ky. 3035 (Old Madison Pike). The driver ran a red light and struck three vehicles, including broadsiding the victims’ Ford Probe. The victims died at the scene.
Although the prison sentence is a significant punishment, Richard Michael Beers, received some leniency. He is permitted to participate in a five year diversion program. After completing that program, he may seek to have his felony convictions expunged.
Beers plead guilty to two counts of reckless homicide as part of a plea agreement. This would have been a challenging case for prosecutors. Beers apparently wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol and wasn’t using a mobile phone – two of the most common causes of reckless crashes. He also was not driving at an excessive speed. Beers has a long history of driving infractions – although this would not have been admissible at trial.
The judge, according to news reports, ordered Beers’ release on the anniversary of the crash “because he didn’t want Beers to look upon the release as a joyous occasion.”
Individuals facing serious traffic charges, as in this case, need to retain an experienced defense attorney. At the Cincinnati based law firm of Michael K. Allen & Associates, we have helped clients throughout Southwest Ohio to successfully challenge a wide variety of traffic violations from running a red light to vehicular felonies.