Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How Toll Authorities Violate the 7th Amendment

Two years ago I was a last minute selection to be part of my friends wedding. I lived in Dallas and I was fitted at a tuxedo rental shop in Dallas. The wedding was in Houston about 250 miles from where I lived in Dallas. I was to pick up my tuxedo the day of the wedding because as I said I was a last minute addition to the wedding party. I went to the rental shop and when I got there there was a line out of the door. Apparently prom was happening the same weekend. So I picked up the tux and I scurried back to the Church to change. I did not have time to try it on. I get to the Church and try on the pants and they were entirely too small. I mean Alley McBeal on a skinny day couldn't fit into these pants. It was as if they mixed up my order with an anorexic midget. Everything else fit except the pants.

Now at this point I bet you are saying get to the point and what does this have to do with tolls and the Seventh Amendment. Well my girlfriend had taken my clothes back to the hotel and I had no pants to wear so Sven another groomsman from Switzerland drove my pants back to the tuxedo rental shop to exchange them. He noticed I had a toll tag from Dallas so he thought it was from Houston. He took the toll roads three times. I did not realize this until a month later I got a letter saying that I owed the Harris County Toll Road Authority $80.

I called them and said it was preposterous that I had not violated any tolls. The rep had informed me that I indeed did violate the toll because they had my picture. I informed them that the violations were committed by another person from a foreign country. They claimed that according to Texas law that I am responsible for whomever is driving my car. I explained I would pay the $3.50 that was the original toll violation and that is it. I explained the situation and they said that I was responsible for the full amount.

A couple of years passed with no word and then I get a letter from a lawyer stating that they demanded payment for the full amount or they would prevent me from registering my vehicle in Texas. I informed them again that I would only be willing to pay $3.50 for the original toll amount. They said that that was not enough and that I would need to pay the full amount. I informed them that I would like a court hearing a I would like a jury trial. The lady said ok you want to go to court then it just cost you another $50 and then hung up on me.

I then received a letter from Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson with a court date. I faxed the law firm a letter stating once again to drop the charges or afford me my Constitutionally guaranteed right which is stated in the Seventh Amendment, in Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

The case proceeded without dismissal. I did not attend. I then received a default judgment essentially turning a $3.50 toll charge into a $300 toll charge. If I do not pay that within 30 days then I will be charged an additional $75 dollars and if I do not pay that within 30 days my vehicle will no longer be able to be registered in the State of Texas.

Here is how I intend to beat this. I have contacted Ron Paul and other and filed an appeal in the Harris County Court of Appeals. I have also contacted the former Secretary of State for Texas and he has suggested that I counter sue for my time and the undue stress caused by violating my rights. Stay tuned for updates as I continue to fight for all of our Constitutionally guaranteed rights.


Sal Costello said...

It's unaccountble taxation, that's why our elected officials love it!

Read about the Texas toll corruption here at my daily Muckraker blog:

Sal "The Muckraker" Costello

Anonymous said...

I really find their logic hard to believe. If your friend was spending and was written a ticket, you wouldnt not be responsible for his actions or that of your vehicle. Also, if he ran from the police and was not apprehended, but they had your tags. I am sure you would be questioned, but you are not responsible, so how are you any more responsible for this. If I am not mistaken the same burden of proof applies in the tolling fine as in any other minor offense. Line up your alibi witnesses and go to trial. I hope that the tax payers of Harris county are really happy that thousands of dollars have been spend to collect $300. what a joke!

Anonymous said...

Friend, Hear what I have to say carefully. You were right to stand on the principle, however, when you offered to pay the $3.50 toll you should have made a point to pay it and get a receipt for that amount (first mistake). Then when you got a court hearing you should have attended in order to present your case, otherwise the Judge, or jury, has only one side to make his decision upon (second mistake). Finally, you betray/portray your motives when you say you are going to 'beat' the judgement by contacting Ron Paul, etc. Good luck to you in life.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid the 7th Amendment doesn't apply in this case. The 7th Amendment applies only to cases in the federal courts, not state courts.

Maybe it shouldn't be that way. Smarter people than me have argued the 7th Amendment should apply to the states. But the Supreme Court disagrees.

Also, since you didn't appear to dispute the case in the trial court, you have probably lost all your rights.

Those rights don't defend themselves. You have to do it, or you have to have someone represent you.

Anonymous said...

Have you done anything to fix it yet? i am going through the same trouble, i am thinking of getting an attourney. My fees were $220 in fines, i owe $237 altogether, i was just wondering if you have done anything and could tell me anything that could help out.

DenJamInc said...

They threatened to restrict registration of my vehicle but when I started asking for jury trials and sending them cease and desist letters they eventually just dropped the case. My next step was going to be a lawsuit in small claims court for harassment. To this day I am still registering my vehicle and still avoiding toll roads. Not many people know this but Texas motor law was recently revamped and the fine for covering, excluding and altering your plates was excluded. Do a search for the article. The new motor vehicle laws go into effect Jan 1. To me this means a free ride on toll roads

Anonymous said...

I know this is a really old blog, but I think it's important for those that will read it after I have. I am a prelaw student currently a junior, obtaining my B.A. in Legal Studies. I only mention this so that those who question what I am about to say will understand that I have had this stuff forced down my throat for years now and likely know what I'm talking about. One Anonymous writer claims that the Seventh Amendment Rights are for Federal trials only and do not apply to State Trials. This was absolutely the case!... From the time the Bill of Rights was enacted and until 1868 when the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted. The Due Process clause in section 1 has been recognized as giving citizens the protection of the first ten amendment freedoms from State governments as well as the federal government. Therefore, the original author and everyone else does have a right to a trial by jury for all civil matters with a dispute of more than $20.

I really wish that the original author would have kept blog updated because it would be interesting to find out what the results were. I think that this conversation is a very interesting one because of the unconstitutionality surveillance traffic citations. One writer in this blog has a really good discussion on the unequal protection displayed by this case because the driver of the vehicle is liable in all ways associated with the traffic violation, but is not the one being charged with it.