By on July 22, 2011

On Sunday red light cameras will begin issuing citations once again in Houston, Texas despite the election result of November where a majority demanded the devices be taken down. US District Court Judge Lynn N. Hughes continues to deny the ability of the sponsors of the anti-camera initiative, Randall Kubosh and Francis M. Kubosh, to defend their effort against an election challenge mounted by American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Hughes on Wednesday ordered several legal arguments by the Kuboshes erased from the record.

“In court pleadings, the Kuboshes may not denominate themselves as intervenors, counter-defendants, third-party defendants, respondents, or anything else that they are not,” Hughes wrote in a separate July 7 order striking another legal brief. “In public, they may call themselves whatever they want.”

The Kuboshes supplied the prohibited legal filings to supplement the record because they believe the city of Houston is intentionally losing the case it filed against ATS in order to save the cameras. The speed with which the cameras resumed ticketing before the case is even over offers evidence for this theory. The Kuboshes also provided legal arguments and state law citations that the city refused to make regarding the validity of the contract. Doing so would have impaired the city’s ability to reactive the cameras. Judge Hughes specifically invited such filings in a December 12 order.

“Positions inadequately argued by the city may be brought to the court’s consideration by the Kuboshes as friends of the court, and should the court perceive anything like abandoned duty, it would simply invite their intervention,” Hughes wrote.

Under Texas law, courts must permit the intervention of a qualified voter to defend a measure election in an election contest. The Kuboshes have appealed Hughes’ refusal to allow intervention to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals. A number of Texans expressed disgust with the actions of Hughes in messages sent to his official email address and made part of the official record.

“Shame on you if you allow the city of Houston and the Arizona-based company that runs the camera program to circumvent the vote of the people,” Diane Robertson wrote in December. “The people’s lawyers should have been heard in this case too — the city is biased in that they are losing money because of this vote. I don’t care what they expound on the news — this is a backdoor way of trying to reinstate the camera program.”

The reinstatement effort succeeded after Hughes’ June order nullifying the election (view order).

“As a registered voter in Harris County, I feel my rights as a citizen have been violated,” Doug Kimbro wrote on July 10. “I feel you have taken away my right to vote. I am very disappointed as an American citizen.”

Hughes has not entered a final order in the case. He has refused to give leave for appeals until after he decides on several contractual issues between Houston and ATS.

“Isn’t His Honor fortunate that you do not stand for election since you have such little regard for them,” Houston resident Ken Bailey wrote in November.


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8 Comments on “Texas: Federal Judge Again Blocks Defense of Houston Anti-Camera Vote...”

  • avatar

    As a resident of Houston, let me say:
    – The voter referendum that was held violated the city charter. The legal issue is not ignoring the will of the people but about following the law as it exists. It is similar to if the nation had a popular referendum on the auto bailout and voted to disallow the bailout–would the govt be obligated to take back the money? Of course not because the the way our laws are set up, the people don’t have the legal authority to do that. They may elect officials who WILL make the change, or they may lobby for a change to the law/city charter so that the people do have such authority, but as the law stands today, the public referendum carries no enforceable weight.
    – The Kuboshes are lawyers who are in the business of defending those who get traffic tickets. They are also all-around d-bags who perpetuate the stereotype of lawyers being bottom-dwelling, scum sucking, & slimy.

    • 0 avatar

      So which camera company do you work for?

      The public has the right to decide whether using machines to issue tickets is acceptable public policy or not. The city council can’t evade accountability by hiding behind contracts. There’s nothing retroactive about the initiative — governments break contracts all the time. Houston’s own greed is the reason the escape clause is so expensive.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly what makes a lawyer who is fighting to LESSEN his PAYING workload slimy? Go back to ATS and tell your bosses to give you better arguments.

      • 0 avatar

        @ RichardD: Yeah, only people who work for a camera company can support RLCs. That’s a smart conclusion. (/sarcasm) I support RLCs because it is a tax on stupid people, and the more tax they pay, the less I have to pay. Also I personally believe ‘stupid’ should be punished, and this is a great way to do it. I drive through intersections with RLCs every day, and I have absolutely no fear of them.

        Also, learn the law–not how you think it ought to be, but how it really is. You state “The public has the right to decide whether using machines to issue tickets is acceptable public policy or not.” However, that is not what the law says. The law clearly states that the public has 30 days to repeal an ordinace, and that is all. Is it a good law? Probably not. Should they change the city charter? Probably. However, until it is changed, it is the duty of govt & the people to obey it. Just because someone doesn’t think a law is ‘right’ or the way it ought to be, does not give anyone the right to violate it.

        You mention breaking the contract. You are correct–the city can break the contract & pay $16M in fees. However, they don’t have the money (it would add over 10% to the city’s budget shortfall). They have already laid off a couple thousand workers, should they lay off another few hundred? They’ve already jacked up taxes. How do you suggest they raise that money? What’s unemployment compared to RLCs?

        @ eefmalone: Not much into logic there, are you? The Kuboshes’ business is based on people getting ‘real’ tickets and fighting them. RLCs don’t issue moving violations. The Kuboshes can’t make money on them, just like they can’t make money on parking tickets.

        It is not unreasonable to believe if RLCs are accepted, then we may see other cameras issue speeding & other tickets. (I believe they see it that way.) It would dramatically cut their market. Eliminating the cameras is good for their business.

        But to be more specific to your accusation, the Kuboshes are slimy because of the way they treat their clients, not for their desire to want to stay in business. Look up people who have hired them, and see what they have to say.

    • 0 avatar

      You should perhaps learn your facts before your spew ignorant and untrue facts around.
      – The Houston voters voted on a charted amendment to make red light cameras illegal. They DID NOT vote to repeal a referendum. The law used to overturn the vote stated that a repeal of a referendum has to be done within 30days. That is not what we voted on. We voted on a charter amendment. So, as to your post; the vote WAS LEGAL.

      The city of Houston shopped their case around to a FEDERAL judge who they knew would rule “against” them and not a STATE judge as they should have since it is a legal state matter. The federal judge then ruled that in his opinion (an opinion which he made very clear from the bench was in favor of red light cameras) the vote was void because the charter amendment was the “same thing” as a referendum repeal. So to be clear, what Houstonians voted on was 100% legal. This ruling sets a dangerous precedent in case law that will allow judges to simply overturn elections they disagree with by considering and ruling that the nature of what was voted on is different than what was actually was on the ballot. Basically meaning that they get to decide the will of the people, not the people who vote.

  • avatar

    One word for all this : paintball

    When all else fails……….

  • avatar

    Too many variables to allow a generalized accurate statement BUT…

    since when did that prohibit the Disgruntled One from babbling akin to a putrid politico?

    Not often.

    Respect a guy wearing a dress?

    Gotta’ have “law” in order to escape general mayhem and allow some order amongst the human herd but whenever humans are involved with anything AMPLE screw-ups are to be expected, perhaps becoming the norm.

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