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Judge allows school zone speed camera lawsuit to move forward

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

A lawsuit against Buffalo's school zone cameras is being allowed to continue, as State Supreme Court Justice Henry Nowak orders Albany to respond.Because it's a lawsuit against a city, Nowak could have thrown out the case out, but didn't. State lawyers now have two weeks to come back with a response to the legal complaint filed by lawyer Kevin Stocker. Stocker claims the whole traffic camera system is unconstitutional and that courts in many states have ruled that.

Among his complaints:

  • there is no due process, with no opportunity to confront a witness
  • tickets go to the car owner, no matter who is driving
  • alleged speeding incidents are not recorded, meaning no opportunity to check whether the camera equipment was measuring speed properly
  • quick slowdowns for 15-mile-per-hour school zones might cause accidents

"Traffic studies say that accidents actually go up when you reduce it down too far from the posted speed limit," he said, "and the example would be if somebody is driving and they don't know about the school zone change and they slam on the brakes and the person behind them doesn't know about it. It would create a lot of rear-end car accidents."
Stocker said he gets constant calls from recipients of school zone camera tickets who want to join in the lawsuit. One of his clients has 13 tickets. He, himself, has four.

"I have accumulated four tickets even though I'm very conscious of the speed limits," Stocker said. "There are just times where I try to do 15 and a woman walking a poodle has passed me on Colvin."

He said one of his clients received a ticket with five cars in the picture and he has no idea why the camera fixated on his client.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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