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Texas Judge Resigns Over Speeding Ticket Quota

For more than 15 years David Viscarde was a volunteer municipal court judge in the small central Texas town of Calvert in Robertson County before he resigned over what he said was pressure by town officials to push speeding tickets through his court, according to June 2015 news reports.

Calvert is in the middle of a triangle of small towns that are big speeding ticket-writers. Those towns, which include Franklin and Hearne on Highway 79 and Lott on Highway 77, issue traffic tickets and collect municipal court fees vastly disproportionate to their populations.

Despite having a mere 1,618 residents, Franklin takes in over a half-million dollars in municipal court fees each year according to municipal budget figures. A city officials told Dallas TV station WFAA that the police department is paid for by municipal court fees.

With 4,400 residents, Hearne has over 12,000 pending municipal court cases. It ranks 43rd in Texas for pending municipal court cases per capita.

Lott ranks in the top 20 with over 3,400 pending municipal court cases for its population of 743. Calvert is also a top 20 contender boasting 5,159 pending municipal court cases for 1,100 residents.

Of course, most of the tickets are issued to non-residents. According to Viscarde, the small towns bank on ticketed drivers simply sending in a check. Should someone actually take a ticket case to court, Calvert would have no way to hold trial as it has no prosecutor and doesn't want to pay for one.

"The mindset of most small towns--including Calvert, and I can only speak for Calvert--is 'After all, we're only Calvert, who's going to know?"'

The State of Texas can fine municipalities that derive over 30% of their budget from traffic tickets, but has never fined one of the towns in the triangle. Over the past ten years, the Texas comptroller collected over $2 million from municipalities with excessive fines.

"The pressure to collect tickets in Calvert--and probably other small towns in Texas--is excessive," said Viscarde. "And what happens is, you got judges like me who say they've got better things to do with my time. 'Thank you very much, and God bless you, I'll move on.'"

Source: www.wfaa.com

 

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