On Wednesday, February 7, 2018, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral argument in Jimenez v. City of Aventura, an appeal raising broad constitutional challenges to the red light camera program of Firm client, the City of Aventura. Firm Member and chair of the Appellate Practice Group, Edward Guedes, and firm partner, Samuel Zeskind, had teamed up to obtain a very favorable decision for the City from Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal, having convinced the intermediate appellate court to depart from an existing precedent from a sister district court of appeal. When the ticketed defendant sought review at the Florida Supreme Court, the court accepted jurisdiction.
The defendant argued to the Florida Supreme Court that the City’s operation of the program, which involved the assistance of the City’s private camera vendor pursuant to City determined guidelines, was preempted by Florida law and in conflict with the uniformity requirements of Florida’s traffic laws. He also contended that the use of the guidelines constituted an unlawful delegation of police authority.
Guedes and Zeskind argued in response that the City’s guidelines were merely administrative tools that facilitated City officers’ performance of their police enforcement duties by having the vendor review and organize captured events before police review and determination of whether a citation should issue. They further argued that the Florida Legislature specifically contemplated this kind of review by a municipal agent when it enacted the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act.
Guedes presented oral argument on behalf of the City, alongside Florida’s Solicitor General Amit Agarwal, pointing out that the City’s use of the guidelines fell well within the scope of the review contemplated by the Legislature in the governing statute. The guidelines, Guedes contended, merely represented the City’s determination of how to allocate enforcement resources while simultaneously retaining ultimate control of (i) whether a citation would issue in any given case, and (ii) how many of the events categorized by the camera vendor would be reviewed for possible violations. The arguments seemed to gain traction with various of the Justices, who vigorously questioned the defendant’s counsel regarding his client’s apparent lack of harm resulting from the City’s method of operation, as well as the plain meaning of the Legislature’s acknowledgement of an agent’s ability to review captured events.
Guedes anticipates that the Court’s decision should issue within the next six to eight months.