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Old June 20th, 2011
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Default Federal Judge Overturns Public Vote in Houston, Texas

Traffic camera company finds friendly federal judge to overturn results of anti-camera referendum in Houston, Texas.

American Traffic Solutions (ATS) on Friday advanced toward its goal of reactivating the red light cameras to Houston, Texas. A majority of voters demanded in a November ballot vote that the cameras be taken down, but US District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Lynn N. Hughes believes the people had no right to vote.

The ruling was a major victory for the legal strategy of ATS General Counsel George Hittner, who worked with the Houston city attorney to create a lawsuit in which city officials, who want the cameras back, sued ATS, which also wants the cameras back. The case was not filed in state court, which would be the proper venue. Instead, Hittner had the case filed in the federal courthouse where his father happens to serve.

Judge David Hittner and Judge Hughes were confirmed to the federal bench within six months of each other and have worked together for twenty-five years. In a separate case last month, Hughes had ruled the government cannot "gag citizens when it says it is in the interest of national security." In the Houston case, he effectively ruled the government can gag citizens on behalf of corporate interests like ATS. Once an ordinance takes effect and its consequences are apparent, Hughes insists the public is powerless to overturn it.

...

"We have anticipated this, we are prepared for it, this is not the end of it," Citizens Against Red Light Camera spokesman Philip Owens told TheNewspaper. "We are prepared to take it all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, where we will ask the question who rules this nation? The people or the politicians?"

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