9/22/2015Texas Appeals Court Upholds Public Right To Ban Red Light Cameras
Texas Appeals Court decision eliminates pre-election and post-election challenges to public votes banning red light cameras.
Red light camera companies will now find it much more difficult to block public votes over automated enforcement in Texas. The state Court of Appeals on Thursday struck down the last-ditch effort of American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to save Arlington's traffic camera program after sixty percent of voters opted at the ballot box to send the Arizona-based company packing. ATS initially filed a lawsuit to block the referendum from ever happening using the name of resident Jody Weiderman as plaintiff.
ATS lawyer Andy Taylor explained during oral arguments that the suit had to be filed in Weiderman's name because a photo ticketing company lacks standing to block an election from taking place.
"ATS is not a voter," Taylor explained. "ATS is not a resident. ATS couldn't file a lawsuit pre-election -- a citizen is the only one that can file a lawsuit pre-election."
Weiderman proved to be a lackluster choice of plaintiff because, as a "voter," he was not registered to vote when the anti-election lawsuit was filed. In March, the Texas Supreme Court ordered Arlington's election to proceed. Now that the ballot results have been tallied, ATS wanted the decision of voters nullified on the grounds that the public has no say in matters of "public safety." The appellate panel rejected this attempt, arguing the ATS plaintiff cannot bring a lawsuit after the election has been held because he cannot prove that he has suffered a harm that the court can remedy.
"Therefore, unless a statute confers standing on him or he seeks to enjoin the prospective expenditure of public funds, Weiderman must allege some injury distinct from that sustained by the public at large," Justice Lee Gabriel wrote. "Indeed, Weiderman admitted at the hearing on the city and the mayor's plea to the jurisdiction that he was no different than any other citizen who believed the red-light-camera program was 'good.' Failing such a distinct-injury showing, Weiderman does not have standing. We conclude that Weiderman's status and proposed rationale for standing do not give him an interest sufficiently unique or peculiar to him to satisfy standing requirements."
Because he had no right to file the suit, the appellate court tossed the case. Citizens for a Better Arlington praised the decision.
"We just got word that Arlington won the Weiderman case in the Court of Appeals," the group stated. "The Fort Worth Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Lowe's decision from earlier this year. This whole ordeal is finally over."
A copy of the decision is available in a 65k PDF file at the source link below.