Retired judge David Viscarde came forward recently, saying a small town in Texas – and likely several others – put excessive pressure on the municipal courts to collect revenue via speeding tickets.
The pressure to collect revenues in Calvert — and probably other small towns in Texas — is excessive. 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,’
Their municipal court is their cash cow. 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 problem is, I knew.
When I first became a judge, we had one reserve officer. That’s all he did on Friday and Saturday every other weekend. He’d write 100 citations.”
Viscarde, a municipal court judge for more than 15 years, also said the pressure put on judges in the area caused him and many others to quit. According to Viscarde, some towns would not even be able to have a police force if it weren’t for the speeding tickets. This is not the first report of a small town – or even a big city – using traffic citations to fund the municipal government, though it is striking to hear an admission from a former judge.
PINAC reporter Jeff Gray documented a speed trap designed to ensnare drivers in the small city of Lawtey, Florida. WFAA’s report named a number of small towns in Texas similarly funding their city government with speed traps. On HBO, John Oliver’s segment on municipal violations revealed how some impoverished people are kept in perpetual debt to cities with fines they are incapable of paying.
Policing for profit is what has led to such gross injustices as “civil forfeiture” cops trolling the highways for cash to seize. For PINAC readers interested in taking action, ending policing for profit is just another benefit of taking control of city government. Don’t get mad – elect honest councilmen and mayors in your city.