Appeals Court upholds speed cameras in 2 court cases

DES MOINES — The Iowa Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the use of automated speed enforcement cameras, rejecting two separate challenges by citizens who claimed cameras in Cedar Rapid violated their constitutional rights.

In one case six car owners ticketed by an automated camera on Interstate 380 are seeking class-action status, claiming the city’s automated camera system violated their equal protection, due process and unlawful delegation of police power rights among others.

They sought monetary damages and an order to shut down the cameras claiming the city and the camera operator Gatso USA Inc. unjustly enriches themselves with the fines.

In the case filed by Marla Leaf, the court agreed with a district court judge who dismissed her allegation that the city failed to clearly prove she was speeding.

The court summarily rejected each challenge in both lawsuits, saying federal courts have already rejected some of the constitutional challenges to the automated camera systems which ticket motorists driving more than 11 miles over the posted speed limit and assess fines.

The attorney who represented car owners in both cases says his clients will ask for a review from the Iowa Supreme Court.

“The citizens we represent are middle-class people who play by the rules and react to those systems feeling something is fundamentally wrong,” said Jim Larew, an Iowa City attorney who has fought legality of traffic cameras in the courts for years.

Attorneys for Cedar Rapids and Gatso did not immediately respond to messages.