3/29/2007Houston, Texas Attorney Burns Red Light Camera Ticket
An activist attorney in Houston, Texas has burned his red light camera ticket and dares the city to do something about it.
A Houston, Texas attorney who was mailed a red light camera ticket this week decided to burn the citation instead of pay it. Michael Skadden, a board member for the Houston chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, believes it is wrong to pay automated enforcement citations.
"Going against what is basically an illegal law isn't something done by activists or lawyers, it's done by regular citizens," Skadden said in an interview with KHOU-TV. "We live in a country with a limited government. We let the government take what freedoms they do from us, so it's our obligation to make sure that they don't step beyond where they're supposed to go."
A red light camera photographed Skadden's car at the intersection of the Southeast Freeway service road and Fountainview on December 20, 2006. Skadden has no recollection of the event. He received a notice insisting that he mail $75 to the "Houston Police Department" at a post office box in Mesa, Arizona by February 13. After that date passed, he was told to pay $100. He then received a letter claiming the city would take action against him to collect the money. All three notices went up in flames.
"This ticket is illegal, it is unconstitutional and I will not pay it," Skadden said. "If you decide to come after me, I'll certainly defend myself to the best of my abilities. I have quite a bit of experience in these matters. I'll do a pretty good job."
Skadden is acting on his own behalf, not as part of the ACLU or any larger legal effort. He urges other Houston residents to follow his lead if they are issued a red light camera ticket.
"Take them and barbecue them just as I did," Skadden said. "Tell them, 'I'm not going to do this because this is unconstitutional and I'm not going to pay it.'"