6 Jun 2015

Judge says he quit over speeding ticket quota. "Their municipal court is their cash cow."

First, it was the "Dirty Thirty," a line of four towns along a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 45 south of Dallas that issue a high volume of traffic tickets.
Now, welcome to the "Texas Triangle" – a group of small towns in Falls and Robertson counties southeast of Waco that are also in the ticket game, according to a longtime municipal court judge who said he quit over what he described as a ticketing quota system.
Revenue generated from tickets pays for a lot of small town police departments in Texas. Without ticket income, some couldn't afford a police force.
"Normally, when they pull you over for safety, they ask the 'safety' kind of questions. They ask you for insurance; they check your tags. This was none of that," said Don Shaheen, one of the thousands of Texans who got speeding tickets in April.
Instead of being concerned about safety, he said the officer just wanted to write a ticket and then get on to the next one. 
"This guy just took my license, gave me a ticket, and — you know — that was pretty much it," said Shaheen, who got a ticket in Palmer.
That was one of the towns we identified as being in what we dubbed the "Dirty Thirty" last month.   
"When I first became a judge, we had one reserve officer," said David Viscarde. "That's all he did on Friday and Saturday every other weekend. He'd write 100 citations."
It was Viscarde's job to handle the aftermath of that tidal wave of speeding tickets. ow are huge ticket-writers. For more than 15 years, he was a volunteer municipal court judge in the small town of Calvert in Robertson County, about an hour southeast of Waco. Calvert sits in the middle of a triangle of towns in Central Texas which statistics show are huge ticket-writers.
Lott on Highway 77, and Franklin and Hearne on nearby Highway 79 are included.
"Their municipal court is their cash cow," Viscarde said about Calvert.
He told News 8 that he quit as judge there because he was getting pressure from city officials to push speeding tickets through court. 
"The pressure to collect revenues in Calvert — and probably other small towns in Texas — is excessive," he said. "And what happens is, you got judges like me who say they've got better things to do with my time. 'Thank you very much, and God bless you, I'll move on.'"
In Franklin, population 1,618, they take in a half-million dollars in municipal court fees every year, budget figures show. That's mostly traffic tickets. The police department is funded by municipal court fees, a city official told News 8.
Hearne officials would not tell us how much their town collects in municipal court fees, or how big its budget is. But state records show it ranks 43rd in Texas for pending cases in municipal court per capita, which is a measure of how many traffic tickets it gives relative to its population.
Hearne has just 4,400 people, but it has more than 12,000 municipal court cases pending, records show.
Lott is one of the top 20 in the state for pending municipal court cases, records show. The town's mayor, Anita Tindle, would not provide budget numbers. But state records show Lott has more than 3,400 municipal court cases pending. That's nearly five cases for each of its 743 residents.
Calvert, also in the top 20 for pending cases, also declined to provide financial numbers. But state records show it has 5,159 municipal court cases pending — which is nearly five for each of its approximately 1,100 residents.
Former Judge Viscarde says small towns bank on no one taking their traffic tickets to court and simply mailing in a check. He said Calvert is incapable of trying cases because it has no prosecutor, and doesn't want to pay for one.


10 comments:

  1. Tom Tchikofski6 June 2015 at 11:07

    Whatever happens to our taxes we pay.
    Ohh, they must be going to much needed cause in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq and Israel. The country has been high-jacked and never know what country they are going to slam it on.

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  2. Somehow I'm thinking that every single one of them is going to get contested now. I don't get many tickets but I context every single one of them, parking tickets, speeding doesn't matter, all of them. You want my money you are going to have to work for it and it's going to cost you. My win rate is about 50% to 60%

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  3. But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life. And many, if not most, taxes are
    paid under the compulsion of that threat.
    The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the road side, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery
    on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.
    The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own
    benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a “protector,” and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to “protect” those infatuated travelers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these.
    Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will;
    assuming to be your rightful “sovereign,” on account of the “protection” he affords you. He does not keep “protecting” you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands.He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.
    Quote from Lysander Spooner

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  4. Gun Barrel City on HWY 274 south of Dallas is a good place to get a ticket for 2 miles over the speed limit. What used to be a good fishing hole is now a ticket trap even for the locals. Instead of cashing in for local income on campers/fishermen the town prefers to ticket everyone. Ten cops for a town of 1800. Proceed with caution, you will get a ticket for something/anything.

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  5. Where I live it will cost you more that way. If you 'contest' the ticket it's the price of the ticket plus court costs as to just the ticket price. Also, I've heard of all kinds of rumors of ways to beat the ticket but the courts are in on this racket so the courts aren't going to let you "beat the ticket". Even if the cop was wrong and lying his @ss off you still pay.

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  6. if the cop shows up you're probably going to lose and have to pay, you might even have to pay more if you fight the ticket but if we all fight all of our tickets the system would collapse under it's own weight. Just having the cop sit there in court with you waiting for your case means he's not out there writing more tickets. That's why they don't show up sometimes, in the time they sat in court with you to get your 200 bucks he could have made thousands writing tickets to other poor schlubs.

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  7. I agree but man have I learned how dirty the system really is. 25 years ago I was given a really nasty BS ticket and I mean it was BS (cam shaft in my car broke causing me to lose control on gravel road (and car was stick shift) and the cop charged me with reckless driving). So, I decide I'm going to fight this all the way because that's one of the worst tickets you can get and I demanded a jury trial knowing the judges are partial. But the judge looked right at me and said 'do you have $2000? That's how much it's going to cost you for the jury if you lose.'
    It was a threat and I was flat broke so I had to 'eat it'. So much for the right to a trial of your peers. I don't trust the average American to be able to think for themselves anyway so it's really rolling the dice with a jury and I didn't have $2000 to bet on that roll of the dice.

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  8. Wow 2g's eh? That's a lot more than an extra fifty or 80 bucks for sure. I was more or less referring to the smaller tickets. Up here in Ontario they'll hit you doing 30 kliks over but only charge you for 15 over ( the threshold for your insurance finding out). They will however write the speed they could have charged you with in the corner of the ticket and if you fight the ticket they hit you with the higher number. Which to me seems like something they shouldn't be allowed to do. If I've gotten a ticket for 15 ove and go to fight a ticket for 15 over and it says I'm charged at 15 over how can it now be thirty over when I get to court. Like you say, it's a scam for sure and they don't play fair.

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  9. Yeah, the 2g was a threat from the judge to get me to drop my request for a jury. I'm sure she'd have made me pay it though 'cause she was an infamously nasty judge to have. So you end up copping the plea 'cause you don't have the money to fight it and they win -- it's their game so it's hard to beat them at it.

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  10. Never look for justice, that not what courts are there for. You have to threaten them in a very subtle way. Threats are all they understand. Thats how I win the 50% of the time. First I ALWAYS do my research, next I get the judge to admit that the "witness" the cop is under oath. That way when I manipulate the cop into a lie and catch him I can threaten them, politely of course with a complaint to the AG's office on a perjury complaint. Once I got a red light ticket dismissed because I determined that the light timer was out of spec and in violation of state highway signal regulations. I told the judge I'd hate to be forced to sue the state because of what "this court" is now aware of". I asked if he could "work with me on this". He immediately dismissed the ticket. If a judge ever looked at me and said what he said to you I would ask him in the most sickeningly polite way to recuse himself because he had already decided what the penalty was for exercising my right to a trial. Now he won't recuse himself because he won't want a public record of such and have to explain why he did it. Because a defendant insinuated that his rights were being denied. In these days of YOUtube judges and cops are wary. The one thing you must remember is that Cops, Judges, anyone in law enforcement are just the bullies who threw sand in your face and stole your milk money in 3rd grade all grown up. You can never reason with them, you must threaten them, non violently of course but threaten non the less. because it's the only thing they understand.

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