A court decision to determine if the Murrieta red-light camera initiative would remain on the November ballot was expected Wednesday but delayed until Friday.
Attorneys on both sides of attended a hearing Wednesday in a Riverside courthouse during which Judge Daniel Ottolia agreed to consider arguments made against his tentative ruling that would have struck the initiative from the ballot. He is expected to announce his decision at 5 p.m. Friday.
The initiative, brought forth Murrieta residents Diana Serafin and Robin Nielson , seeks to ban the cameras from Murrieta.
However, the lawsuit filed by Steve Flynn, a former Public Safety and Traffic Commissioner largely responsible for implementing the cameras in 2006, states traffic laws can only be regulated at the state level.
Pacific Justice Institute attorney Peter Lepiscopo is representing Serafin and Nielson in their fight to keep it on the ballot, and was grateful the judge took his argument into consideration.
"I feel very good about the way he listened..." Lepiscopo told Patch. "The main thing I argued was that Mr. Flynn can wait until after it passes—if it does—to take up this matter. He should not interfere with the people's right to vote in this matter."
Flynn was more inclined to believe the judge would ultimately rule in his favor.
"I am glad that it went in our favor today," Flynn said Wednesday by phone. "I don't like that we had to do it this way, but I do feel the group (who filed the initiative) was misleading the public. So it is a win for the citizens of Murrieta."
Charles Bell of Sacramento-based Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk, the firm which filed the suit on behalf of Flynn, believed the judge would rule in his client's favor Friday.
"The judge had what was called a tentative ruling which means it is the way he intends to rule," Bell said Wednesday during a phone interview.
The tentative ruling, according to Bell, was that traffic regulations were of statewide concern, and as such the initiative was something that would need to be brought to voters at the state level.
"We are optimistic and hopefully on Friday the judge will come down with his tentative ruling as final," Bell said.
With the Registrar of Voters' Aug. 15 deadline to print the ballot approaching, neither party may have enough time to appeal the judge's decision.
Murrieta city council to renew its five-year contract with American Traffic Solutions for the cameras, plus add two more. However, another long-term contract and the addition of more cameras was being delayed until after the November election.
Cameras are installed at three Murrieta intersections: Murrieta Hot Springs and Whitewood roads, Murrieta Hot Springs and Margarita roads, and Clinton Keith Road and Nutmeg Street. Those caught running red lights at those intersections are mailed tickets.
While the city was also named in Flynn's lawsuit, city council voted to