Red light camera lawsuit

I’m trying to understand exactly what this is all about. Here’s the little sidebar summary, which captures the basic facts pretty well:

The city of Houston • filed a “pre-emptive lawsuit” in U.S. District Court Nov. 15 seeking a judge’s opinion on how it should proceed after terminating its contract with red light camera company American Traffic Solutions, or ATS, once voters had rejected the camera program.

ATS • filed a countersuit Nov. 24 seeking to nullify the referendum, arguing that the city improperly put the matter on the ballot.

Paul Kubosh and his brothers filed a motion to intervene in the matter Nov. 30, arguing that the city of Houston was not defending the outcome of the election aggressively enough. The Kubosh brothers bankrolled the effort to have the camera program repealed.

Here’s an earlier Chron story about that “pre-emptive lawsuit”, which required the city to leave the cameras up (though it did not require them to continue collecting fines) until the matter is settled. I guess if the idea was to pre-empt ATS from suing, it didn’t work. ATS, like anyone else, is free to sue anyone for anything, but I’ll say again that I believe any litigation relating to the validity of the referendum should have been filed and ideally resolved before the election. As was discussed ad nauseum here at that time, the issue wasn’t that you couldn’t force a vote on the matter but that there are two different ways to go about it, and that the way the Kuboshes should have gone awould have required more signatures (though not that many more) than they got. At least, that’s what it looked like to me after some comments from people like JJMB. But again, that should have been resolved before we all voted, because it’s basically a correctable error, for a future election if not for the current one. I know this isn’t how the world works, but to me the question about whether or not a referendum is legal should be moot after the referendum has actually been conducted, much like how an NFL coach can’t challenge a call once the ball has been snapped for the next play.

Of course, the world doesn’t work that way, so the court will presumably consider ATS’ challenge. Which it should then reject, since the underlying issue (again, at least as I understand it) isn’t nearly worth overthrowing the will of the voters. I don’t know what sufficient cause might be, but I know this isn’t it. As for the Kuboshes’ contention that the city will pussyfoot around on defense against ATS because it secretly hopes the judge will toss the referendum, I’ll just note that City Attorney David Feldman basically ordered City Council to vote to put it on the ballot, over the objections of several members. To claim that he’s going to sandbag now is both inconsistent with his earlier actions as well as a bit insulting. Well, the Kuboshes have been more successful outside the courtroom on this than they have been inside it, so I’m not too worried about that. We’ll see how it goes.

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5 Responses to Red light camera lawsuit

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  2. JJMB says:

    I don’t have any insights into the real meat of your post. But I will tell you that back during the first go-round, a friend sent me a Texas appeals court opinion from a few years back that rejected a lawsuit filed before the election challenging whether the referendum was validly placed on the ballot or not. The court ruled that the lawsuit was not “ripe” and said the plaintiff could come back after the vote if it passed. At least that’s what I remember. So that would be opposite of what you prefer in your post. I’d expect that precedent will figure into this court case. (Although, on second thought, this is in federal court and I am not clear how Texas court precedent will figure in.) Certainly more to come!

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  4. Pingback: Judge rules red light camera referendum was invalid – Off the Kuff

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