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California Appeals Court Rejects Red-Light CamerasThe second-highest appeals court in the state has rejected red-light camera cases.

V. Andre Rekte received a $500 citation for allegedly running a red light at the corner of Tyler Street and State Route 91 in Riverside. He argued that the ticket should be thrown out because the yellow light was too short, the cameras obscured the traffic signal, the evidence lacked a proper foundation and he did not receive a copy of the video evidence prior to trial.

Redflex, the same company that operates red-light cameras in Bakersfield, keeps the cameras rolling in Riverside.

One of Redflex's calling cards is that red-light cameras are a "turnkey" operation. In this particular case, a city employee testified that he "reviewed" the evidence prior to the citation being issued. Under cross examination, the man admitted that "reviewing" was more akin to "robo-signing." Unfortunately for Mr. Rekte, the California Supreme Court has already ruled that the evidence in red-light camera cases is presumed to be reliable, despite the fact that a peace officer has no input in the process. It is also standard procedure in many jurisdictions to allow defendants to view the video evidence in a case prior to trial.

These arguments may not win points with the justices, if the case is appealed. Nonetheless, this appeal may succeed, because Mr. Rekte's other arguments have some merit and he raised more questions about the reliability of the red light camera evidence than some recent cases.

First, there is the issue of yellow lights. Under a rather complicated formula, the yellow light should have lasted 3.65 seconds, and it went to red after 3.5 seconds. Redflex was apparently trying to collect a little more money by shaving a few tenths of a second off the yellow light, and the company got busted. Second, at Mr. Retke's trial, an expert witness testified that the cameras blocked 41 percent of the signal light.

This decision is not binding in Kern County or Tulare County, but an attorney can use it as persuasive authority.

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