University of Baltimore law professor Charles Tiefer said it's "surprising and significant" that the citations make no mention of video. The modest $40 penalty makes it unlikely the state's high court would find it unconstitutional, he said, "but you can do a lot of unfair things without them being unconstitutional as well."

"And it is unfair," he said. "The city hides from the alleged traffic violator the video evidence which they will use on their side — on the city's side." Revealing its existence in court, he added, is "too late for it being effectively used on the motorist's side."

Thousands of tickets voided

As revenue rolls in — the city says it's still owed $15 million in unpaid speed camera tickets — there are indications that the city has not always followed the speed-camera law as intended.

City officials have voided nearly 6,000 tickets because cameras were programmed with the wrong speed limit, citations incorrectly listed a camera's location or the devices malfunctioned. In all, city officials have had to recall batches of tickets due to errors seven times over three years, forgoing the revenue those tickets would have generated.

Even a failure to clear vegetation away from signs alerting motorists to the speed cameras has been an issue in the city. Such signs are required by state law. One man got a judge to throw out his ticket after going to court with photos showing the sign hidden by leaves.

Information the city recently gave The Sun included 9,500 citations where the clocked speed was less than 12 mph over the speed limit. City transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said some were among 6,000 that were voided. The rest were legitimate, she said, but due to an unexplained "error in input," the speed limit appeared in the database as 30 mph instead of 25 mph.

And now, in the case of the camera on eastbound Cold Spring Lane near Poly-Western, there are doubts that an automated citation means a vehicle was actually driving fast enough to merit a ticket.

The Sun examined eight tickets issued by the camera to two trucking companies. One citation, issued Sept. 4, claimed a truck was traveling 70 mph in a 35 mph zone. Like every speed camera ticket issued under state law, it included two photos of the truck, offered as evidence the vehicle broke the law. According to time stamps on the photographs, they were snapped by the camera a half-second apart.

A truck traveling 70 mph will cover just over 51 feet in half a second. But by measuring street markings that were clearly evident in the photo, The Sun found that the truck traveled no more than 30 feet, which translates to a speed of 41 mph. The other citations also yielded measurements indicating considerably slower speeds than those listed on the citations and none fast enough to warrant a $40 citation.

In early February, before most of the eight citations were issued, the city and Xerox were both alerted to problems with that camera, according to emails The Sun obtained between city officials and another truck operator.

In the emails, Utz Quality Foods food safety manager Phil Redding urged city officials to review a ticket issued to an Utz truck in January for driving 47 mph, noting that a video of the alleged violation "shows him not going fast." The city forwarded the complaint to Xerox program manager Donovan Wilson, who reviewed the case and told the city: "It seems that the vehicle was not going 47 mph."

A month later, city transportation engineer Francis Udenta asked Wilson if the ticket had been voided and whether "the issue with the camera has been rectified." Wilson replied that the citation had been voided, but he did not address questions about the camera's accuracy. The Sun obtained the emails from Ron Ely, an anti-speed camera activist who runs a website,, and their authenticity was confirmed by Redding.

Since the complaint from Redding, the Cold Spring camera has generated several thousand more tickets, including dozens of the fastest speeds recorded by the city's network of 83 cameras — including a school bus recorded going 74 mph.

"It doesn't make sense how the system is, and we're frustrated with it," Redding said in an interview.

At first Weiss, of Mary Sue Candy, said the tickets concerned him, because the Baltimore company never wants its drivers speeding, "especially in a school zone, and especially in a truck with our name all over it." His frustration is now directed at the city, he said. "The irritation increases as each ticket comes in."

This month, after inquiries from The Sun, city transportation officials said they were testing that speed camera and the one on the opposite side of Cold Spring.

"We have discovered that some larger vehicles may have experienced radar effects that led to abnormal speed readings," officials said by email.

"If we find that there was in fact an interference with the system, refunds will be issued to those affected."

Xerox spokesman Chris Gilligan said Friday that the company and the city "conducted a thorough investigation" after learning of a potential issue with the Cold Spring camera.