Houston lawyers Paul Kubosh and Randall Kallinen, who have fought the program in courts before, are asking a state district judge to compel the city to release what they say was an August 2008 draft of the report by Rice University professor Bob Stein.
They say the public should see the previous version of the report, as well as the final version to be released next week, so the conclusions can be trusted. The city has said that earlier copies were in draft form, and, therefore, not subject to disclosure.
"A city cannot label a document 'draft,' and thereby make it not available to the public," said Joe Larsen, a media law attorney and open-records advocate who represents Kubosh and Kallinen. "Otherwise, any governmental body would be in a position of taking out a rubber stamp, putting a stamp on any document, and excluding the public from taking a look and forming their own conclusions."
Kubosh and Kallinen announced the suit, which uses a Texas Supreme Court decision against the city of Garland, in a Friday news conference.
Mayor Bill White's office attacked the lawsuit as a publicity stunt.
"He's obviously doing some self-promoting," mayoral spokesman Frank Michel said of Kubosh, who defends motorists in Municipal Courts. "We can only assume this is a P.R. exercise by someone who makes a living defending in traffic court."
Michel said the report originally was due in late summer, but city officials found flaws in its data based on recordkeeping anomalies. Some wrecks on freeways, for example, were coded as though they happened at the monitored intersections below the freeways.
On the other hand, when you're being accused from the beginning of making stuff up, it's not hard to understand why there might be some resistance to giving these guys what they want.
Both Kallinen and Kubosh said they would drop their objection to the camera if both versions of the study showed a safety increase, provided that the researchers factored in both broadside collisions and rear-end collisions. The pair suggested in their news conference that city officials could have massaged the data.
Kubosh reacted strongly when challenged on whether there was evidence of such manipulation.
"If they give us the report, then we'll shut up," he said. "We're here because the city wouldn't give up the information. They hold on to it like it's their information and not the public's."