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Typical Texan
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8,416 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anybody have a recommendation for a traffic court lawyer that works in Montgomery County and specifically in Woodbranch Municipal Court?

I'm not asking for advice on how to drive from the peanut gallery either. :D
 

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Manvel Mob
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829 Posts
Does anybody have a recommendation for a traffic court lawyer that works in Montgomery County and specifically in Woodbranch Municipal Court?

I'm not asking for advice on how to drive from the peanut gallery either. :D
Assuming it's a speeding ticket you gotta be careful with a lawyer i hired one a few times sometimes he just got them dropped and it just cost me his fee of $200 but a couple times i had to pay court cost and in the end they cost me around $600. Did you consider defensive driving? You can do it online in about 5 or 6 hours and over a period of several days and all fines and fees are about $150.
 

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Typical Texan
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8,416 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Assuming it's a speeding ticket you gotta be careful with a lawyer i hired one a few times sometimes he just got them dropped and it just cost me his fee of $200 but a couple times i had to pay court cost and in the end they cost me around $600. Did you consider defensive driving? You can do it online in about 5 or 6 hours and over a period of several days and all fines and fees are about $150.
I considered it Defensive Driving but, this little town court assesses $240 in fees, fines and special assessments for requesting Defensive Driving then adding in the course, the fee to get the driving record and then my time on top if it then it's close to 300 bucks out of pocket and a wasted Saturday. The fine to pay out right is $295 for 75 in a 55. This is on HWY 59 up by Splendora. The speed limit drops from 70 to 55 for about a 1 mile stretch on the completed 8 lane freeway that is wide assed open. It's a revenue generator for sure.

I don't mind paying a fine for doing wrong but, I'll fight it since they are being greedy about it. If the fines and fees were half of what they are gathering I'd just pay.

I'm sure I'll be found guilty at the municipal level so, I plan on appealing it to the county court. At least if I get found guilty there the fine will go to the county and not that money grubbing little rat hole of a town.
 

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Is it really Monday again?
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1,120 Posts
I don't mind paying a fine for doing wrong
So you were driving 75 because you thought the speed limit was 70 but it was actualy 55. You broke the law "did wrong" so just pay the ticket and dont waste anymore of your time trying to get around it.

Comments from the peanut factory.. :p
 

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Legend
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453 Posts
I have had my runin with Woodbranch Police a couple of times and ended up having a warrant issued for my arrest (long story, there fault and I got it dropped). That place is a joke and has been for as long as I remember. Not real sure if a lawyer will help you. I decided to just to pay them and take def adj, I tried for defensive driving but the judge wouldn't let me..... Sadly I live at 242 and 59 and have to see these jokers everyday....
 

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you might consider taking your chances doing it yourself. you used to be able to go to the houston muncipal court and plead "not guilty" and ask for "trial by judge". when they set the court date some 6-7 months later, there were so few cases to fool with and cops did not show up for the trial forcing the prosecution to drop the case.

after awhile, however, everyone started doing that and the "not guilty" cases increased. then more cops started to show up and the city began paying them for their time in court whereas before they did not. now it works about 50/50. it still works in your county courts though.

also, when you get tickets from houston police or constables, you will be flooded with mail soliciting lawyers. they are a waste. the first one, i hired for $50 and then a second one for $100. true, you don't have to show up for the arraignment, but you do for the trial (set up by the lawyer). then they come to you with the same junk you can figure out yourself. they offer either deferred ajudication or dd and all the fees and court costs that go along with those offers. i don't know what i was expecting for $100, i guess legal representation. these vulchers flood you with mail and amass all the trials for the same day and make a killing and do nothing but help the city courts prosecute the case. the one i hired for $50 told me the cop was there and whatnot. turns out, he wasn't. i refused to give in and told them to take it to trial and represent me. 1 hour later he comes back and told me the case had been dismissed. do you think the cop left? NO! he didn't. they are just a waste of your money.

best thing to do is hope that someone on here is a lawyer that will take interest in helping you with your case rather than the city with there's. good luck. sorry for the rant, but i was trying to provide my story so you could make a decision with your case.
 

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That DamnYankee!!
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4,076 Posts
Good Luck! Woodbranch and Patton Village are both notorious as major speed traps up on this side of town. There's less then 1 mile total highway frontage between the two and they write more speeding tickets then the rest of the County combined. Tickets are the only way either town makes any money.

Almost any deal in the Woodbranch Court will involve a bunch of community service that can only be done there in WB. You have to show up at the court house and do what ever the lady at the desk dreams up that day.

No Contest or Deferred are your best bet.
 

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Custom User Title space for rent
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If you are not facing jail time, defend yourself, trail by jury. Take the judge out of it. The key is on your discovery request. Do it right & the citation goes away every time. No city will spend 10 grand or more to take a $300 ticket to trail. It is a win win for all. The officer gets his donut, the citation gets dismissed & the city does not have to shell out big bucks filling a discovery request.
 

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there used to be the same type of "gotcha" speed traps on a span of 59 south between rosenberg and wharton. the town was called kendleton. they were forced to stop this practice. don't know if you remember, but they did the same thing to iowa colony on highway 6 between sugarland and manvel.

found this and thought it might help.........

Small town relies on the lead-footed to pay its bills
Estelline uses speed-trap fines to finance nearly its entire budget

By THOMAS KOROSEC
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

ESTELLINE - With his lean profile and weathered face, Officer Barney Gilley looks every bit the part of a West Texas lawman. Now and then, tourists stop and ask him to pose for snapshots in his mean-looking Dodge Charger squad car.

Most of the time, though, Gilley is the one making the introductions along U.S. 287 as it runs, briefly, through Estelline and its single blinking yellow light.

"People know me from Los Angeles to New York," he says, a slight grin forming.

Gilley writes about 23 tickets a day to drivers who fail to slow as the wide, flat four-lane leaves the Panhandle's red-dirt cotton fields and enters this farm town of 168 residents about a hundred miles southeast of Amarillo.

Despite a 1975 Texas law aimed at curbing speed traps, Estelline has been able to mine nearly its entire budget from motorists who fail to slow from 70 mph to 50 mph when they hit the city limits.

"We follow the state law," said Estelline Mayor Rick Manley, whose current budget anticipates it will take in $320,000 in traffic fines this year. The town keeps some of the money but by law will have to give a chunk to the state.

Paying back the state

Texas' speed-trap law uses an indirect approach to discourage small towns from relying too heavily on traffic tickets.

Under the law, which applies to towns of fewer than 5,000, nearly all traffic fines that exceed 30 percent of a city's previous year's total general revenues must be paid to the state. For instance, a town that takes in total revenues of $100,000 this year can keep only $30,000 in traffic fines next year, plus $1 for each ticket over the cap.

The law, which is enforced by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, prescribes no penalties - beside payment of money past due - for violations. And cities can grow their budgets each year by writing more tickets.

This year, Estelline will keep about $110,000 in highway fines, said Connie Mondragon, the municipal judge who also is working temporarily as city clerk.

"We're able to increase our revenue a bit every year," said Manley, a retired prison guard who moved to Estelline eight years ago.

At least five other small towns that aggressively ticket motorists appear to have learned how to live with Texas' speed-trap law as well.

Since 1999, Driscoll (south of Corpus Christi), Estelline, Martindale (east of San Marcos), Mount Enterprise (north of Nacogdoches), Payne Springs (southeast of Dallas) and Zavalla (east of Lufkin) have each voluntarily paid more than $10,000 to the state in excess fines, according to figures provided by the comptroller's office under the Texas Open Records Act.

People in Estelline, which ranks second behind Mount Enterprise in excess fines voluntarily sent to the state over the past seven years, do not deny the highway is the town's chief meal ticket.

"If we did not write tickets we would not have a City Hall, city employees, a police officer, a judge," Mondragon said. "Welcome to Estelline."

A city surviving

On a recent weekday, Mondragon was in a small office adjacent to the volunteer fire department working through a stack of mail sent from recently nabbed speeders. The town's two-room brick City Hall next door was damaged last month by a small tornado that demolished two 100-year-old buildings on the other side of the town square.

Estelline's only cafe closed last year and on a recent late-winter morning, the town looked all but deserted as a fierce High Plains wind blew in a legion of tumbleweeds and dust that reddened the sky.

In its heyday in the 1890s, Estelline was a cattle-shipping center on the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway. It had 1,000 residents, two newspapers, a large general merchandise store, a lumberyard and a bank that operated for about 40 years until it failed in the Great Depression, according to a history compiled by the University of Texas at Austin.

Today, the only signs of commercial life in Estelline are two liquor stores that voters approved in 1983. One sells groceries and gasoline, and between the two - the only sellers of alcohol in dry Hall County - they bring in about $15,000 in state sales tax a year, city budget figures show.

The town, which does not run a water or sewer utility, collects a total of $2,680 in property taxes and $3,000 in rental income from houses it has taken over.

"We're not getting rich here," said Mondragon, the judge. "We won't be retiring from this."

It costs about $126,000 a year to run its one-man police force and city court, including Gilley's $50,000 a year salary.

"It's hard if you're a small town finding someone who will work like Barney," said Manley, the mayor. "A lot of the guys will just sit around by the coffee pot. Barney will work six days a week."

Even at $170 to $280 per ticket (for exceeding the speed limit by 1 mph to 35 mph) it takes a lot of tickets to float even Estelline's modest budget. The state receives $71.50 for costs and fees on every ticket; drivers who opt to take a driving safety course pay no fine; and truckers who are ticketed often hire a lawyer and appeal to county courts, which keep any fines paid, Mondragon said.

Local drivers such as Justin Garnica, owner of Gloria's Café in Memphis, the county seat, say they know to slow down in Estelline.

"He'll be parked behind City Hall, where the building confuses a radar detector, or there's a little dip he likes north of town," Garnica said. "Everybody around here knows to slow down over there. It's out-of-towners who get caught."

Fighting a reputation

Larry Ivy, a ranch foreman who sits on the Estelline City Council, bristles at the suggestion that the town is a speed trap.

The state sets the highway speed limit and it's clearly marked, he said. Vehicles blowing through town at 70 mph are a danger to residents, and the city has the right to slow them down, Ivy asserts.

At the same time, he said, without highway fines, the city would have no police force.

"We're trying to fix our town up," Ivy said. "Without that money to mow and take down old buildings, we'd be like some of these other towns around here that have just gone away."

State officials audited Estelline in 1999 and 2003, finding in the earlier instance that the town owed the state $15,025 in excess traffic fines. Since 1999, state records show that eight towns have been audited by the state and were found to have underpaid under the speed-trap law.

The most notorious is Kendleton, a town of 500 southwest of Houston that operated a speed trap on U.S. 59 for more than 20 years.

In a series of audits, the comptroller's office found the town failed to pay more than $1.6 million in excess highway fines through the 1990s. Kendleton subsequently declared bankruptcy and disbanded its police force.

R.J. DeSilva, the comptroller's spokesman, said the state's speed-trap law is considered a success.

"Compliance is high and the number of towns we're looking at is pretty small," he said.

Were Estelline 25 miles to the northeast, on the other side of the Red River's Prairie Dog Town Fork in Oklahoma, it would face a more explicit speed-trap law. Since 2003, Oklahoma officials have had the power to stop local police departments from enforcing traffic laws on state and federal highways if the town derives more than 50 percent of its operating revenue from moving violations.

Late last year, Oklahoma officials designated three towns as official speed traps and shut down their highway operations for at least six months. One, Moffett, declared bankruptcy within six weeks.

Estelline's detractors, who curse it on the Internet as a "Texas-sized speed trap" or worse, no doubt would like to see the town face a similar fate.

"What a long, strange and beautiful trip it was," wrote one, Sonny Stone of Ontario, Canada, musing about a cross-country drive. "The only serious problem was with a traffic cop in Estelline."
 
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