Des Moines, Iowa — An Iowa woman who says she was wrongly ticketed by an automated traffic camera when she wasn’t speeding has accomplished the unusual feat of getting the state Supreme Court to consider her $75 small-claims case.
For Marla Leaf, 67, it’s not about money, but about constitutional rights. Her attorney, James Larew, argued Wednesday that the city of Cedar Rapids, where Leaf lives and was ticketed, is violating equal protection and due process clauses of the Iowa Constitution in part because it delegates police power to Gatso USA — the private, for-profit company hired to run the equipment.
Leaf said she pursued the case all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court for a simple reason: She’s not guilty. Given her experience, she also questioned whether Cedar Rapids’ system is fair to motorists.
Leaf’s case, which the Iowa Supreme Court combined with another case with similar arguments involving six vehicle owners, is unusual because small claims rarely make it to the state’s highest court.
Such cases are closely watched by other communities with automated traffic equipment, much of which is run by private companies.
Leaf was driving her Ford Mustang home from an eye doctor’s appointment on Feb. 5, 2015, when the automated speed camera system on Interstate 380 in Cedar Rapids clocked her at 68 mph in a 55 mph zone. She recalls the roads were icy and insists she was traveling between 50 and 55.
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