Ex-judge who fought red light camera loses case

Red light cameras monitor drivers on Old Country

Red light cameras monitor drivers on Old Country Road near Ring Road in East Garden City. (Aug. 19, 2010) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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A Nassau Supreme Court justice has ruled against an ex-Nassau District Court judge who sued the county over two $50 traffic tickets, claiming that the red-light camera program it installed to catch lead-footed drivers is unconstitutional.

But while Nassau officials hailed Supreme Court Justice Anthony L. Parga's decision as a victory, Samuel Levine, who served for three years on the Nassau District Court, vowed to appeal.

"The fact that he dismissed the case and that he did not give us a trial and ignored so many constitutional issues is certainly going to be the subject of judicial scrutiny at the appellate level," Levine, of Long Beach, said.

He added that the red-light camera program is "nothing more than a revenue-producing program that will not deal with the major problem of protecting the rights of citizens."

Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli said he was not surprised by the outcome.

"I'm pleased that the court ruled in our favor," he said. "This was important to the county in light of the revenue that it generates for the county. It is important as a safety issue. It discourages unsafe activity by drivers and makes streets safer for both the drivers and pedestrians."

Levine filed the lawsuit after he received a notice in the mail that his car had been photographed running a red light at Daly Boulevard and Long Beach Road in Oceanside.

His wife, Lee, was driving the car on Oct. 19 and Oct. 29 of last year, the dates of the violations, court record say.

Levine said his constitutional rights were violated in at least one respect because he had no opportunity to confront his accuser - the camera itself.

Parga's decision countered, saying Levine's "inability to examine a witness does not render the statute unconstitutional because he does not face a criminal conviction or a conviction for violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law."

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