review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Patrick R.
requests further review after magistrate in small claims
court action found a violation of a municipal ordinance.
C. Larew of Larew Law Office, Iowa City, for appellant.
H. Flitz, City Attorney, and Patricia G. Kropf, Assistant
City Attorney, for appellee.
case involves the enforcement of an automated traffic
enforcement (ATE) system, but unlike its companion case,
Behm v. City of Cedar Rapids, _ N.W.2d _ (Iowa
2018), where the district court granted the city's motion
for summary judgment, this case proceeded to trial, with a
judgment adverse to the defendant.
appeal, Marla Leaf, a registered vehicle owner, makes a
series of challenges to an adverse judgment arising out of
the operation of an ATE system established by the City of
Cedar Rapids (Cedar Rapids) through a municipal ordinance.
Leaf received a notice of violation from Cedar Rapids
asserting that she was speeding while traveling southbound at
the J Avenue exit on Interstate 380 (I-380) where the ATE
system was operating. She contested the citation by following
the directions on the notice. After a telephonic hearing, an
administrative hearing officer ruled against her challenge to
the citation. Leaf then requested Cedar Rapids file a
municipal infraction against her in small claims court
pursuant to the ordinance.
result of Leaf's request, Cedar Rapids filed the
municipal infraction naming Leaf as a defendant in the
district court. A magistrate sitting as a small claims court
held an evidentiary hearing on the matter. The magistrate
found clear and convincing evidence that Leaf violated the
ATE ordinance, rejected Leaf's legal challenges to
enforcement, and assessed a civil penalty of $75, plus court
costs. Leaf appealed the small claims decision to the
district court. The district court affirmed.
appealed the ruling of the district court. On appeal, Leaf
claims that Cedar Rapids failed to show a violation of the
ordinance by clear and convincing evidence. She further
asserts that the ordinance establishing the ATE system
unlawfully granted jurisdiction over enforcement to an
unauthorized administrative tribunal. Finally, Leaf
challenges the enforcement of Cedar Rapids' ATE ordinance
on several constitutional theories. Specifically, Leaf claims
the ordinance violates the Iowa Constitution by unlawfully
delegating police power to a private entity, the ATE
contractor Gatso USA, Inc. (Gatso). She further claims that
the ordinance, on its face and as applied, violates
procedural and substantive due process of law and offends the
equal protection and privileges and immunities clauses under
the Iowa Constitution.
transferred the appeal to the court of appeals. The court of
appeals affirmed the district court judgment. For the reasons
expressed below, given the posture of this case, we affirm
the judgment of the district court and the decision of the
court of appeals concluding that Leaf violated the ATE
Factual and Procedural Background.
Structure of Cedar Rapids ATM System.
The ordinance. In 2009, Cedar Rapids enacted an
ordinance establishing an ATE system. Cedar Rapids, Iowa,
Mun. Code § 61.138 (2016). The ordinance authorizes Cedar
Rapids to "deploy, erect or cause to have erected an
automated traffic enforcement system for making video images
of vehicles that . . . fail to obey speed regulations . . .
in the city." Id. § 61.138(a). The
ordinance authorizes the hiring of a contractor "with
which the City of Cedar Rapids contracts to provide equipment
and/or services in connection with the Automated Traffic
Enforcement System." Id. § 61.138(b)(2).
ordinance provides that when the ATE system generates an
image of a speeding vehicle, a notice of violation is mailed
to the vehicle owner within thirty days of obtaining the
owner's identifying information. Id. §
61.138(d)(1). The ordinance further provides that a vehicle
owner may contest the citation by requesting an
administrative hearing "held at the Cedar Rapids Police
Department before an administrative appeals board . . .
consisting of one or more impartial fact finders."
Id. § 61.138(e)(1). Upon receiving the decision
of the board, the ordinance provides a vehicle owner with the
option of either paying the fine or submitting a request that
Cedar Rapids file a municipal infraction in the small claims
division of district court. Id. § 61.138(e)(2).
small claims court proceeding, Cedar Rapids is required to
show "by clear, satisfactory, and convincing
evidence" that the vehicle was travelling in excess of
the posted speed limit. Iowa Code §
364.22(6)(b) (2015). The ordinance authorizes a fine
of between $25 and $750. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Mun. Code §
61.138(c)-(d). The ordinance also notes that state-mandated
court costs are added to the amount of the fine if the
vehicle owner is found guilty after a small claims court
proceeding. Id. § 61.138(e); see also
Iowa Code § 364.22(8).
Gatso's contract with Cedar Rapids.
to the ordinance, Cedar Rapids entered into a contract with
Gatso in 2009. Under the contract, Gatso installed ATE
cameras at selected locations. Gatso owned the ATE equipment
and was responsible for annual calibrations and preventative
was also responsible for developing images and obtaining
data, including speed calculations, from the ATE equipment.
If an event met the criteria for a violation, Gatso sent the
license plate data to a database for name, address, and
vehicle information. Gatso then presented the prescreened
information that supported potential violations to the Cedar
Rapids Police Department. The police department reviewed the
information and either approved or rejected each violation.
If Cdar Rapids approved a violation, Gatso sent a notice of
violation by mail to the registered owner of the vehicle.
Gatso's Notices to Alleged Violators.
Content of notice of violation.
owners who were alleged to have violated the ATE ordinance
received a "Notice of Violation." The notice of
violation displayed the City of Cedar Rapids logo and had the
signature of the Cedar Rapids law enforcement officer who
approved issuing the citation.
front page of the notice of violation provided information
about the time and place of the alleged violation along with
two photos of the vehicle recorded by the ATE system. The
front page of the notice of violation provided the following
Failure to pay the civil fine or to contest liability within
(30) calendar days is an admission of liability in the full
amount of the civil fine assessed and will result in the loss
of your right to a hearing. In addition, you may be subject
to formal collection procedures including, but not limited
to, being reported to a credit reporting agency, and a civil
backside of the notice of violation provided information
about how to pay the civil penalty. It also stated that a
person receiving the notice of violation had a right to
contest the violation in person at an administrative hearing.
The notice of violation suggested that recipients wishing to
contest the violation "review the city ordinance, the
images, and the actual recorded video (if applicable) of the
infraction" and provided a limited list of "valid
defenses." The list of valid defenses did not include a
defense that the driver was a person other than the
vehicle's registered owner. The backside of the notice of
violation cautioned that the failure to appear at an
administrative hearing "will result in a final
determination of liability." The notice of violation
made no mention of the recipient's option of requesting
Cedar Rapids initiate a small claims action in district court
where Cedar Rapids would bear the burden of proof of showing
a violation "by clear, satisfactory, and convincing
evidence." Iowa Code § 364.22(6)(b).
Content of "notice of determination of
If the first notice of violation did not result in payment or
the scheduling of an administrative hearing, Gatso sent out
another document to the vehicle owner entitled "Notice
of Determination 2nd Notice." As with the notice of
violation, the notice of determination carried the City of
Cedar Rapids logo and had the signature of a law enforcement
notice of determination of liability provided the same
information about the time and place of the alleged offense
as the notice of violation. It contained, however, a slightly
different admonition than the original notice of violation:
Failure to pay the civil fine or to appeal this determination
within (30) calendar days may result in the possible
imposition of a late fee. In addition, you may be subject to
formal collection procedures including, but not limited to,
being reported to a credit reporting agency, and a civil
backside of the notice of determination also differed from
the notice of violation. Unlike the notice of violation, the
notice of determination declared that citizens may resolve
the notice of determination by paying the fine or
"request[ing] a trial before a judge or magistrate"
within thirty days of the date listed on the front of the
Appeal Before Administrative Appeals Board.
the ATE ordinance refers to an administrative appeals board,
the ordinance states that the board consisted of "one or
more impartial fact finders." Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Mun.
Code § 61.138(3)(1). In the administrative hearing in
this case, the board consisted of a single person. The
ordinance does not establish procedures or criteria for
appointment, nor does the ordinance describe a burden of
proof or the procedures to be applied in the administrative
IDOT Rulemaking and Enforcement Actions.
IDOT rules related to ATE systems.
Behm, Leaf relies on IDOT rulemaking and enforcement
actions in support of her appeal. Several years after the
Cedar Rapids ATE system commenced operation, in February of
2014, the IDOT promulgated administrative rules relating to
ATE systems. See Iowa Admin. Code ch. 761-144. The
rules declared that their purpose was "to establish
requirements, procedures, and responsibilities in the use of
automated traffic enforcement systems on the primary road
system" and to "ensure consistency
statewide" in their use. Id. r. 761-144.1.
IDOT rules sharply restricted the implementation of ATE
systems on primary roadways. The rules directed that ATE
systems were to be considered only "after other
engineering and enforcement solutions have been explored and
implemented" and were not to be used as a long-term
solution to speeding or red-light running. Id. r.
761-144.4(1)(a)- (b). The rules provided
that ATE systems were to be used only "in extremely
limited situations on interstate roads because [such roads]
are the safest class of any roadway in the state and
typically . . . carry a significant amount of non-familiar
motorists." Id. r. 761-144.4(1)(c).
The rules further stated that ATE systems should only be
considered "in areas with a documented high-crash or
high-risk location" in "[a]n area or intersection
with a significant history of crashes which can be attributed
to red-light running or speeding," or "[a] school
zone." Id. r. 761-144.4(1)(d).
IDOT rules contained minimum requirements for the operation
of ATE systems. Id. r. 761-144.6. Among other
requirements, the rules provided that ATE systems could not
"be placed within the first 1, 000 feet of a lower speed
limit." Id. r. 761-144.6(b)(10). The
rules required that ATE "fixed systems" be
calibrated at least quarterly "by a local law
enforcement officer trained in the use and calibration of the
system." Id. r. 761-144.6(4).
IDOT rules required that each jurisdiction with an active ATE
system on primary highways prepare an annual report on the
operation of the system and submit the report to the IDOT.
Id. r. 761-144.7(1)- (2). The local evaluation was
to include (1) an analysis of the impact of the ATE system in
reducing speeds or red-light running; (2) the number and type
of collisions at the sites, including before-and-after
implementation comparisons; (3) an evaluation of the ATE
system's impact on critical safety issues; (4) the total
number of citations issued during each calendar year; and (5)
certification that the calibration requirements of the rule
had been met. Id. r.
receipt of the annual report, the IDOT used the information
from the report to reevaluate the continued use of the ATE
system. Id. r. 761-144.8(1). The rules provided that
continued use of the ATE system was contingent upon the
effectiveness of the system, appropriate administration by
the local jurisdiction, continued compliance with ATE rules,
changes in traffic patterns, infrastructure improvements, and
implementation of other identified safety measures.
Id. r. 761-144.8(1)- (2). The IDOT "reserve[d]
the right to require removal or modification of a system in a
particular location, as deemed appropriate."
Id. r. 761- 144.8(2).
IDOT evaluation of the Cedar Rapids ATE ...