Drivers caught by red-light cameras are starting to bombard Kansas City with challenges to their tickets.
But a lot of them don’t know how clearly their hand was caught in the cookie jar. Once they see a video — with blown-up still photos of their license plates — they often change their minds.
Challenges have occurred so often that on Thursday, workers installed a bank of computers in City Hall so accused red-light camera violators who don’t have access to a computer could go online there and see their alleged offenses. The City Hall computers are expected to be ready today.
Lowell Gard, the city's first assistant prosecutor, said the early viewing may make people rethink pleading not guilty -- thus providing relief to the Municipal Court.
Wednesday's docket showed 177 red-light camera cases at 11 a.m. and 122 at 2:30 p.m. While not all those people showed up, dozens did, and some successfully persuaded judges to dismiss their cases.
"I had 14 trials handled yesterday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:20 p.m.," Judge Mike McAdam said Thursday. "Some of the challenges were for good reasons."
For example, McAdam said, one video showed the yellow light turned to red after only a few seconds, shorter than the recommended interval. Another woman was able to successfully persuade him that she legally turned right on red, after properly yielding to traffic.
But Charles Eddy, chief of staff to City Manager Wayne Cauthen, said he expected the new computers in the City Hall lobby to be useful in persuading many people to drop challenges.
Court officials have said the computers should not be located at Municipal Court, and City Hall, at 414 E. 12th St., is the next most convenient location.
In an e-mail to Prosecutor Beth Murano and other city officials, Presiding Judge Elena Franco said she was concerned about the impact of a growing red-light caseload on the court. But she wrote that Eddy’s computer solution "seems to offer immediate relief."
Once most alleged offenders see the video, they quickly realize they are guilty, Eddy said.
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