STANLEY C. LOWICKI, Defendant-Below/Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff-Below/Appellee.
Submitted: May 31, 2019
Appellant's Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas
Abigail M. LeGrow, Judge.
is an appeal from a Court of Common Pleas decision dismissing
for lack of jurisdiction an appeal from a Justice of the
Peace Court ("JP Court") decision regarding a red
light traffic camera citation. Title 21, Section 4101
provides a right to appeal traffic camera violations if the
civil penalty imposed exceeds $100. The court below concluded
the civil penalty against the Defendant-below/Appellant did
not exceed that threshold, and the court therefore lacked
jurisdiction to consider the appeal. For the reasons that
follow, I agree with the Court of Common Pleas that it lacked
jurisdiction to consider the appeal, and I therefore affirm
the decision below.
May 18, 2017, a car Stanley C. Lowicki owned was captured by
a traffic camera disobeying a red light on Route 72 at
Kenmore Drive. Mr. Lowicki was issued a civil traffic
violation under 21 Del. C. § 4101. He contested
the violation in accordance with the statute, and a hearing
was held in JP Court in August 2017. At the hearing, Mr.
Lowicki contended he was not driving the vehicle at the time
of the offense and therefore was not liable. At the
conclusion of the hearing, the JP Court found Mr. Lowicki
responsible for the violation and ordered him to pay $172.50,
consisting of the following amounts:
Court Security Fee:
Transportation Trust Fund:
State Police Fund:
Local Law Enforcement Fund:
Lowicki appealed the JP Court's decision to the Court of
After full briefing, the Court of Common Pleas dismissed the
appeal, holding that under 21 Del. C. §
4101(d)(12), a person found responsible under that Section
only may appeal if the "civil penalty" imposed
exceeds $100. The Court of Common Pleas held the civil
penalty imposed by the JP Court did not exceed that
threshold, reasoning that court costs and other amounts
imposed by the JP Court did not fall within the plain meaning
of "civil penalty" under the statute.
Lowicki then appealed that ruling to this Court. On appeal,
Mr. Lowicki raises three arguments: (1) the Court of Common
Pleas erred in its interpretation of the meaning of
"civil penalty" within 21 Del. C. §
4101(d)(12); (2) the JP Court erred in assessing amounts not
permitted by the statute; and (3) the JP Court erred in not
granting dismissal in Mr. Lowicki's favor after he
"undisputedly" rebutted the statutory presumption
that the owner of a vehicle found in violation is liable for
response, the State contends the lower court correctly
interpreted 21 Del. C. § 4101(d)(12) when it
dismissed Mr. Lowicki's appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
The State argues "the civil penalty that must exceed
$100 refers only to the fine at issue and does not include
any costs and surcharges imposed." The State contends that
because Mr. Lowicki's fine only was $75, it did not meet
the $100 threshold and the Court of Common Pleas lacked
jurisdiction over the appeal.
April 17, 2019, the Court requested that the State submit
supplemental briefing addressing whether the amounts Mr.
Lowicki was required to pay for the various "funds"
were authorized by 21 Del. C. § 4101(d)(3) and,
if they were not so authorized, whether those amounts
necessarily constituted a "civil penalty" under 21
Del. C. § 4101(d)(12). The State filed its response on May
7, 2019. The State contends the amounts for the
Transportation Trust Fund, State Police Fund, Local Law
Enforcement Fund, and Ambulance Fund were authorized under 21
Del. C. § 4101(d)(3) through later-enacted
legislation and a 2010 JP Court policy
The State also argues the "fund" amounts do not
constitute a "civil penalty" under 21 Del.
C. § 4101(d)(12). The State cites the legislative
history of 21 Del. C. § 4101(d)(12) and
Santillo v. State to support this contention. The State also
argues that Mr. Lowicki did not raise, and therefore waived,
the issue of whether the "fund" amounts constitute
a civil penalty under 21 Del. C. § 4101(d)(12).
Lowicki filed a response on May 30, 2019. He argues the
"fund" amounts are not authorized by 21 Del.
C. § 4101(d)(3), and the later-enacted legislation
cited by the State is not applicable because Title 11 is for
criminal offenses, and a violation under 21 Del. C.
§ 4101(d)(3) is not a criminal offense. Mr. Lowicki also
points out that the use of the words "fine" and
"penalty" in those provisions does not comport with
the term "assessment" used in 21 Del. C.
§ 4101(d)(3). If the Court finds the "fund"
amounts are authorized, however, Mr. Lowicki contends they
should be considered part of the civil penalty for appeal
considering an appeal from a Court of Common Pleas decision,
this Court's role is to review questions of law, such as
statutory interpretation and decisions regarding
jurisdiction, de novo. Mr. Lowicki's appeal of the lower
court's decision regarding jurisdiction requires
interpretation of 21 Del. C. § 4101(d)(12),
which defines the scope of the appellate right for persons
found responsible for a traffic camera violation. There is a
right to appeal only when the "civil penalty imposed
exceeds $100." The statute goes on to state that
"[a]dditional penalty assessments" for late payment
or response imposed ...