Thursday, May 27, 2010

My ideas for challenging the Piney Flats / Bluff City speed camera tickets

While I am sure you can find plenty of information regarding challenging these tickets, most of them are loser arguments. Of course, I am not your lawyer so you should consider this approach with your lawyer. That said, the Piney Flats/Bluff City ordinance requires a payment of $50 and a payment of $40 for court costs. It charges this amount whether you go to court or not. Why should you pay court costs when you do not go to court? One might argue that this additional charge makes the entire ordinance unconstitutional under the Tennessee Constitution.

Article VI, Section 15 of the Tennessee Constitution provides as follows:

No fine shall be laid on any citizen of this state that shall exceed fifty dollars, unless it shall be assessed by a jury of his peers.

Calling the $40 a "court cost" is ridiculous when no court is involved in the matter unless the person challenges the ticket. It is simply calling a fine by another name in order to avoid calling it a fine and in order to avoid a jury trial (which these crooks desperately want to avoid because they know what "jury nullification" is). I would argue that this mandatory court cost is nothing more than a fine and the citizen is left with no recourse to challenge it, other than by coming to court and thereby being subject to the court cost. As such, the ordinance is unconstitutional. Your honor "what if they made the court costs $500 or $1,000? What is to stop them from doing that?" I would argue that, the ordinance is unconstitutional on its face because the fine is essentially $90 whether you go to court or not and therefore a jury trial is warranted and the ordinance makes no provision for a jury trial. [Update: I believe that Bluff City changed its ordinance in December 2010 to only assess this fee if you actually go to court, so this issue may now be irrelevant. I have not checked the ordinance to confirm this.]

Further, the legislature knows this is an issue. The House just approved legislation that does the following:

Limit[s] fines to $50 per violation and declaring that add-on late payment fees also cannot exceed $50 per ticket, starting July 1, 2011. The provision also says that court costs cannot be assessed unless the violator actually goes to court. McCord said some cities are now adding court costs to the basic $50 ticket when it is first mailed to the violator.

There are plenty of other good arguments out there and to my knowledge, the Bluff City ordinance has not been challenged yet. Just because some cities are adding these costs do not mean they are constitutionally permissible (even without final approval of the legislation above).

I might also want to show up with some of these photoshopped pictures of Barack Obama and others. Maybe King Barry and Sarah Palin would do the trick. I might inquire as to whether these photos were real. After all, photographs never lie, right? [Updated to add: Who knew that Elvis met Darth Vader?] A really talented person might endeavor to provide photoshopped photos of various well-known city officials in Bluff City. I wouldn't recommend photoshopping the judge; the point would be well-made, but you might end up in jail if the judge were, say, making love to a goat or something. It might be interesting to provide a photoshopped version of the the photo of your own car (from the ticket cam's website) with one of the official's tag numbers photoshopped onto it. A good photoshopper would likely be able to do this with minimal effort. "Is this my car or is it councilman _____'s car? This photo has his tag number on it." Since you cannot confront your accuser, how are "we the people" supposed to know if these things are even real? Are we supposed to just trust the government's prosecutors? Last I checked, the government is supposed to prove its case. Photos are so easily faked that they are flimsy evidence at best.

Ask the government agent how the cameras work. Ask the officer how the cameras work. Ask when they were last calibrated. Who trained them to operate the cameras? How much training did they have? Ask plenty of questions to show they are idiots and that they are just trusting a piece of machinery and software.

Again, these are just some ideas. If you really want to fight "based on the principle," pay a few bucks and hire a lawyer. You're probably going to lose anyway, but you never know.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

When will we get the stats on Johnson City Red Light Cameras?

It appears that West Palm Beach is already seeing early results from its red light cameras. In 70 days, rear-end collisions more than doubled.

A few years ago, I had the misfortune of having to attend one of Johnson City's traffic schools. You know - the ones where you go to in order to avoid having to fight or plead guilty to a speeding ticket. In that school, the representative of the JCPD talked about how high Johnson City's accident rate was and he pointed out that most of the accidents were rear-end collisions. He said we did not have a lot of accidents involving deaths or serious injuries but we definitely "had a problem" with rear-end collisions. Of course, it was not too long after that the government started traveling down the road to serfdom road to red light cameras. If rear-end collisions were a problem in Johnson City, why on earth would they install red light cameras?

I'll spell the answer for you very slowly, in case a mentally challenged government official is reading this blog ..... R-E-V-E-N-U-E.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Attention Criminals- A Tip for the Day

It's a bad idea to engage in home invasions in Roan Mountain, Tennessee. There is a good chance that you will get shot and end up dead. This was a stupid criminal. A lot of criminals use a little common sense and realize that if they are going to rob a place, they should go somewhere where guns are banned. It is very simple to find these places, as many of them put handy signs on the windows that indicate that they are a gun free zone.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

Other times, you don't. Lane Kiffin is making $4 million at USC's head coach. I don't do much sports blogging, but this is ridiculous.

I am reminded of a recent prayer I received in an email:

"Dear Lord in the last year you have taken my favorite actor Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress Farrah Fawcett, my favorite musician Michael Jackson, my favorite salesman Billy Mays and my favorite athlete Chris Henry. I just wanted to let you know my favorite coach is Lane Kiffin!"

Nah, I don't dislike him that much. I just want to see him take the same kind of winning record to USC that he brought to Tennessee!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bredesen Playing Politics with Gun Bill

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen (D) claims he is waiting to make his decision as to whether to veto the revised bill that allows for handgun permit holders to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol (known to the media and other scared wittle bunny wabbits as the "guns in bars" bill). Folks, this is an absolute lie. Bredesen is waiting because the longer he waits, the more likely it will be that the legislature will not have time to override his veto.

It seems to me that an unbiased media that was doing its job would figure this out and say something about it.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Do Traffic Enforcement Cameras Increase Insurance Rates?

As we all know, insurance companies use every available means to determine risk. They price risk based on demographics and on markets. For example, if Carter County, Tennessee has a high accident rate, rates will generally be higher there than for a county with lower accident rate. I believe this is a well known fact.

Some are now speculating that insurance companies are using data from speed cameras and red light cameras to increase rates on certain areas. While individual violators are not reported to the insurance companies, the raw data likely is reported. So, if Bluff City issues 300,000 tickets per year on its speed cameras, the insurance companies will assume that Bluff City drivers are very dangerous and must pay higher insurance premiums (despite the fact that most of the tickets are undoubtedly issued to people who only pass through the town).

In Johnson City and Kingsport, most of the red light camera tickets are undoubtedly issued to residents. What do you think happens when an insurance company sees a lot red light tickets from those two municipalities but sees only a few from Bristol, Tennessee that were issued by actual police officers instead of scameras? Undoubtedly, Johnson City and Kingsport will be assessed a higher risk premium and insurance costs will go up.

Further, study after study shows that the presence of red light cameras causes an increase in the number of rear-end accidents. These are the types of accidents that make insurance companies cringe because they are so open to fraud. Back and neck injuries are notoriously difficult to prove the severity of and notoriously easy to fake. When the red light cameras come to town, insurance companies will have to pay out more money for these types of accidents. Does anyone really think they won't raise their rates to address this increased risk?

While these city "leaders" think they are bringing money into their city by using these scameras, they may be losing more than they realize. The money paid to insurance companies leaves town for good. It provides no jobs here. It provides no tax revenues here. All it does is place an additional burden on our citizens.

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Speed Cameras Coming Down in Arizona

See, it can be done.