TO ALL CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF TEXASHere's a link to the CCA page on his case, though no documents are posted online yet. I don't know Mr. Montes, but he apparently brought this action pro se and deserves a lot of credit for making it this far. (He gave his contact information in the original comment(s), if you like, though I won't republish it.) This is separate litigation, of course, from the federal suit out of Fort Worth, discussed on Grits previously, which also seeks to declare the Driver Responsibility surcharge unconstitutional.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas has accepted the case and will consider my motion to declare Ch 708 of TX Trans Code "Surcharge Program" unconstitutional. Writ No. WR-76,215-01. I ask all interested licensed Texas attorneys, law professors, civil rights groups, etc to file their friend of the court briefs in support of relators motion to declare ch 708 of the Texas Transportation Code unconstitutional. We got the Texas high court's attention now. Help me shut this Ch. 708 down, make the state refund every dollar with interest and reinstate all DLs suspended under ch 708. We don't need congress to repeal and wait for any federal court to intervene. This [is a] motion before a Texas high court to review a Texas statute. It's perfect.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals would be about the last place I'd look to get rid of this wretched civil surcharge, but you never know. The Driver Responsibility surcharge, I've found, is disliked across the political spectrum for a variety of different reasons, including among many self-styled conservative, law-and-order types who've watched in horror as it has helped drive DWI conviction rights steadily downward since its inception. (Judges have testified at legislative hearings that charges are routinely being reduced in some jurisdictions to avoid applying many thousands in additional surcharge costs.)
I'm not a lawyer, but this is certainly an opportunity for any groups, firms, or individual attorneys with sufficient resources and motivation to file amici briefs on behalf of a motion pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that could, conceivably, get rid of this abject and contemptible program once and for all. Maybe it's futile, some will say, with the likes of Judges Keller and Hervey on the bench. But as my late grandmother was fond of reminding me, "Can't never could."
I know everybody's busy, but this surcharge is a true source of dysfunction in the justice system, affecting literally millions of people. Opportunities arise in this world, then windows close, and pro se or not, this is an opportunity for Texas' high criminal court to solve a big problem for state criminal courts, if five of them can muster the gumption and if critics of the surcharge can muster the arguments to let them do so. Mr. Montes got his writ this far. Give him some help, if you can, with amici briefs explaining to the court why the Driver Responsibility Surcharge is unconstitutional. (And if you do, be sure to forward copies of whatever you file with the court to Grits, at shenson[at]austin.rr.com.)