7/29/2016Texas Appeals Court Restores Right To Vote On Camera Ban
Second highest court in Texas reverses judge who blocked a referendum vote on red light cameras in Cleveland.
The public has a right to outlaw the use of red light cameras by referendum, the Texas Court of Appeals decided on Thursday. The ruling was a blow to American Traffic Solutions (ATS), which successfully used a lower court injunction to block the May 10, 2014 public vote on camera use that had been scheduled in the city of Cleveland.
ATS lawyer Andy Taylor convinced Liberty County Judge Carroll Wilborn Jr to pull the measure from the ballot (view case) by insisting that state law prohibits any effort to ban cameras. Justice Leanne Johnson led the unanimous three-judge panel that said Judge Wilborn had no authority to stop the election. The appellate panel went on, in a footnote, to register their fundamental disagreement with the ATS argument.
"Were we to address the merits of the claim, we also note that [ATS] failed to establish and the findings of the trial court fail to identify an independent wrongful act, injury, exigent circumstance, or harm to [ATS] that would be sufficient to show irreparable harm which is a necessary element for a permanent injunction," Justice Johnson wrote. "The mere physical or theoretical possibility that the complaining party may be subjected to the same action again is not sufficient to establish irreparable harm."
The lower court had imposed a permanent injunction preventing any red light camera ban. This meant that, even though the election date has already passed, residents of Cleveland would have an opportunity to vote on the issue in the future. The appellate panel rejected this move.
"To be entitled to a permanent injunction against a municipality in what are inherently legislative tasks, the party must show irreparable injury," Justice Johnson wrote.
The panel found that ATS could not ask for permanent relief against the hypothetical possibility that an anti-camera initiative might be introduced again in the future, and that the lower court judge lacked the power to grant such a request.
Texas voters used the ballot box to oust red light cameras in Dayton, Houston, Baytown, League City and College Station by margins as great as 77 percent against.
A copy of the ruling is available in a 340k PDF file at the source link below.