Man takes red light camera battle to Texas Supreme Court

image: camera lensBy Mark Lisheron, The Texas Monitor

What began with a challenge to a red light camera ticket the city of Richardson issued to him six years ago, continues with Russell Bowman preparing to take a lawsuit to the Texas Supreme Court.

Bowman, an Irving lawyer, has made getting rid of red light cameras in Texas a career. And with the help of a few equally committed people, his fight is gaining momentum.

State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, who has carried bills to outlaw the cameras statewide in the last two legislative sessions, told The Texas Monitor Friday he is considering including language in a similar bill that would force cities to refund some or all of an estimated $537 million in fines collected over the last decade.

“These cities were breaking the law when they were issuing these tickets,” Huffines said in a phone interview from Israel. “We’re looking for relief for those who were fined. I think they deserve a refund. It’s very disheartening. If citizens are expected to obey the law, cities should be expected to obey the law, too.”

The law Huffines is referring to — Senate Bill 1119, passed in 2007 — is at the heart of all of the legal work Bowman has done over half of dozen years in dozens of Texas cities.

The bill requires cities considering installing any kind of red light camera system to prepare and approve an engineering study to justify its implementation.

Bowman argued successfully in a class action lawsuit on behalf of people who got red light camera tickets in Willis that the city had done no such study. Willis, about 50 miles north of Houston, won an appeal last August.

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