Lawyer Wins Red-Light Camera Lawsuit Against Richardson

City ordered to pay lawyer $27,500 in legal fees over $75 ticket

A Dallas County judge ordered the city of Richardson to dismiss a red-light camera ticket given to an attorney and to pay him $27,500 in legal fees after the lawyer filed a lawsuit saying such tickets are unconstitutional.

The lawyer, Russell Bowman, of Irving, said he was pleased with the order but expected the city to appeal.

"This thing will go up on appeal but, yes, I was very happy we won this part of the fight," he said in an interview Wednesday.

Richardson city spokesman Rick McGarry said the city was "assessing its options" but had no further comment. City attorneys did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Bowman filed the lawsuit in August 2015 after he received a ticket for running a red light at Central Expressway and Belt Line Road in his Hyundai. He argued in his lawsuit that the city tried to “illegally extort” $75 from him for issuing him a red-light camera ticket.

"It just struck me as so unfair and so against our system that our country was founded on," he said.

NBC DFW viewers shared mixed feelings when news came that a North Texas attorney was able to convince a judge to dismiss a red-light camera ticket.

Bowman said he didn't receive the initial notice that he ran the red light on Nov. 12, 2012 and wasn't aware of it until two years later when he got a letter saying he would be unable to re-register his car.

He said a part of the Texas Transportation Code is unconstitutional because the state legislature has decided running red lights is a criminal offense. Violations of red light cameras are issued as a civil penalty.

In criminal cases, Bowman said people have rights such as confronting their accusers in court. In the case of red-light cameras, people have no such rights, he said.

Also in criminal cases, people have a right to trial by a jury or an impartial judge. But in red light cases, he said a hearing officer acts as both judge and jury.

"The hearing officer was a Richardson police officer," he said. "Imagine getting a speeding ticket from a policeman and the guy you've got to go in front of to determine if you're guilty is the police. That's not the way our system was set up."

Despite his victory in court, he said he doesn't expect the city of Richardson to take down its red-light cameras anytime soon.

"My opinion, they're making so much money, they'll just keep doing it," he said.

Dallas County District Court Judge Dale Tillery also ordered the city to pay $7,000 in additional fees if the city unsuccessfully appeals to the Court of Appeals and $3,000 if it unsuccessfully appeals to the Texas Supreme Court, according to the court document.

Bowman also is involved in a class action lawsuit in Tarrant County over red-light cameras. That case is pending.

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