UPDATED 6:30 p.m. Aug. 8
The California Supreme Court, without comment, has transferred Murrieta's ballot battle to a lower appeals court, an attorney involved in the case reported Wednesday evening.
The state's highest court was asked early Wednesday to decide the battle over whether Murrieta voters can control cameras on city traffic lights. A Riverside County Superior Court judge had ruled last week that a voter initiative cannot be placed on the November ballot seeking to ban the cameras.
Instead of taking the case to the next level, the state appellate court, an attorney for those who support the initiative reported Wednesday that he'd asked the California Supreme Court to issue a stay of the Riverside County court ruling by Thursday, Aug. 9.
The San Diego-based attorney, Pete Lepiscopo, also filed legal challenges asking the state’s highest court to toss out the court ruling and dismiss the case.
If the court sided with those who support putting the proposed ban on the ballot, that tight Thursday deadline would allow Riverside County and Murrieta officials to meet their own deadlines for preparing for the election, according to Lepiscopo. That would mean that elections officials could then put the initiative on the Murrieta ballot, according to Lepiscopo.
On Wednesday evening Lepiscopo reported that the Supreme Court, without comment, has transferred the case to the Court of Appeal in Riverside.
The cameras on traffic lights at three Murrieta intersections catch those running red lights; the errant drivers are mailed tickets. The intersections are Murrieta Hot Springs and Whitewood roads, Murrieta Hot Springs and Margarita roads, and Clinton Keith Road and Nutmeg Street.
The proposed ban on the red-light cameras was headed for the ballot after a successful petition drive by Murrieta residents Diana Serafin and Robin Nielson.
But then Steve Flynn, a former Public Safety and Traffic Commissioner largely responsible for implementing the cameras in 2006, sued.
Last week in Riverside, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia agreed with Flynn’s arguments that state traffic laws can only be regulated at the state level, according to the Pacific Justice Institute, which is aiding the initiative’s supporters.
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.