Bowie lawyer James Liskow beat a speed camera ticket in Montgomery County three years ago based on what was essentially a typo.
In a nutshell, the law as written required police to include with the citation the county plan describing the location of the speed camera and a signed certificate showing the camera passed an annual inspection — “a phone book full of artifacts” as Liskow told me at the time.
A similar due process argument was made in a putative class-action lawsuit against the towns of Riverdale Park and Forest Heights, filed in April 2012 in U.S. District Court, with Liskow representing the plaintiffs. A federal judge granted a defense motion for summary judgment in November 2012, finding in part that he could not enforce state constitutional laws.
The plaintiffs appealed the decision. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel for 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the lower-court ruling, finding the plaintiffs’ due process rights had not been violated.
“Appellants fail to identify any element of the disputed procedures that equate to egregious official conduct unjustified by the state interest in traffic enforcement,” the opinion states. “…Any flaws in the citation or enforcement process could have been challenged in the state courts, and Appellants failed to do so.”
The appellate court similarly rejected an argument that electronic signatures on citations cannot be admitted as sworn testimony at trial because it is unknown whether the testimony is based on “personal knowledge, information and belief.”
Finally, the appellate panel found citations do not need to be sent via certified mail to satisfy due process.
“[N]othing presented to us indicates that the United States Postal Service delivers certified mail at a rate so superior to that of first-class mail that we should declare first-class mail not reasonably calculated to provide actual notice,” the opinion states.