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Martin adjourns last time


Only one red-light camera case came before Town Judge Jerry Martin on his last night of court.

Kim Cook agreed she failed to stop before the white stop bar prior to turning right on red, but said the red light camera vendor, Redflex, misrepresented itself to the Town.

“It’s a shame the Town is being blamed for this money-grabbing that is Redflex’s fault,” Cook said.

According to Cook, she was one of the first to come out in support of red light cameras when the Town began talks of installing them. She watched each Redflex presentation carefully, she said.

“But not one time was anything said about right turns on red,” Cook said.


While turning right on red may be considered running a red light, the two phrases have different connotations, she added. And Redflex not mentioning turning right on red was a falsification.

“It’s a misrepresentation by Redflex, no doubt,” Cook said, estimating Redflex must gain 80 to 85 percent of its revenues from illegal right turns, not outright red light running.

“I’m afraid that will cost this Board of Mayor and Aldermen their positions — someone should stand up and say [Redflex] can’t misrepresent themselves,” Cook said.

Martin acknowledged Cook brought up interesting issues, but said various courts and the Tennessee Attorney General had affirmed that red light cameras “pass Constitutional muster” at both the state and federal levels.

“As a policy, whether a good idea or a bad idea, is up to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen,” Martin said.

Whether he personally agreed or not, or whether Redflex misrepresented itself or not, Martin said his job is to enforce the law.

“You must stop for a red light. Period. You must stop at a right on red,” he said.

Both of those stops must be behind the white stopbar. If a driver can’t see beyond traffic in other lanes, then that driver still must stop behind the stopbar, but then may pull forward to see, as long as he stops again.

“That’s going to slow traffic a little. It involves changing the habits of a number of people, including myself,” Martin said.

There are reasons to stop once and sometimes twice at a right turn on red, he added.

The first is the safety of pedestrians: when drivers must stop, they are more likely to notice pedestrians in the crosswalk or on the sidewalk.

Second, “we’re trying to make certain and avoid accidents,” Martin said.

Drivers who must stop are more likely to notice cross traffic or traffic entering their lane from another turn lane.

Finally, Martin agreed that when the red light camera talks began “I really didn’t think about right turns on red.

“It turns out it’s generating a lot of money. I don’t know the total revenue stream and I don’t know what it’s being used for.

“I think you make some good arguments,” he said.

However, Martin said he must enforce the law, and because Cook did not stop before turning right on a red light, she had 10 days to pay the $50 civil penalty plus a $55 court cost.

Town Attorney Tom Hale thanked Martin for his service as municipal judge.

“I’ve enjoyed being the Town judge … I’ve enjoyed the experience,” Martin said.

He acknowledged his successor, Lucinda Troyer, in the audience: “I wish you the best of luck.”

 

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