New concerns raised over camera tickets in Montgomery

New concerns raised over camera tickets in Montgomery

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - In the ongoing investigation of Montgomery's red light cameras, another issue has come to light.

We've learned that some citations for running red lights are going to the wrong people, and duplicate license plate numbers are to blame. Sometimes the state recycles old numbers when issuing new plates. They're working to correct that problem.

On Tuesday, a new concern was brought to our attention when it came to fighting those tickets in court.

Two men, fighting two very different tickets, have two eerily similar stories.

Isaiah Sankey received a ticket from a speeding camera, and Mark Montiel received a ticket from a red light camera.

"I believe they said I was doing 39 in a 30 mph speed zone," Sankey said.

Both men ran into trouble from the start when they tried to contest the tickets in court.

"Requesting a hearing was not easy, and quite frankly, if I hadn't been a lawyer, I wouldn't have known how to get one," Montiel said.

"I put in my written request for a court date, but I never received one," Sankey said.

When the two men finally got their day at municipal court, they encountered more frustration.

"As it turned out, they were taking people in the back room rather than doing it in the open court," Montiel said.

"He said, very adamantly, that he was not interested in any philosophical discussion, he was not going to document anything, he needed to know how much time I needed to pay the ticket or I could take it to circuit court," Sankey said.

That's what both men decided to do.

"The problem is with due process," Sankey said.

Two different judges presided over the two different cases in district court, both judges ruled in favor of the defendant and against the city, but neither of them gave any explanation for their ruling. Now the city of Montgomery is appealing the ruling.

The City won't comment on these specific cases since it's still in the appeals process, but Municipal Court Administrator Ken Nixon says it's common for these camera ticket cases to be pulled out of the courtroom.

"If it's something where the video needs to be seen, then they're taken back to the back so everyone can see the same display," Nixon said.

Nixon goes on to say it's also a matter of convenience, when the docket is presented every other Friday morning.

"The automated docket overlaps the regular docket. Sometimes if the other judge is available, he'll come into the back office and handle the cases there just to help get people out; it's a customer service issue."

After his initial interview, Nixon called back to say the court dates for camera tickets are now being moved to every other Monday afternoon; a time when nothing else is on the docket.

That is still not good enough for Sankey and Montiel.

"The ideal solution would be to just get rid of it," Sankey said.

"The law [should] be repealed and quite frankly the money [should be] returned to people who had it unlawfully taken from them," Montriel said.

There's no word when the court of appeals will rule on either case.

We should point out, if you own the car that is ticketed, you are responsible to pay the ticket and not the driver of the vehicle.

Also, these are civil violations and they do not accrue points against your driver's license.

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