Texas Courts of Appeals
No. 04-19-00518-CR 5/13/20
Is the offense of racing on a highway under Transportation Code §545.420 unconstitutionally vague as applied to the defendant?
No. The facts demonstrated that the defendant used his vehicle in a side-by-side competition where he attempted to outdistance the other driver. Because the racing statute criminalizes that behavior, and because it also “conveys sufficient definite warning as to the defendant’s proscribed conduct when measured by common understanding and practices,” the Court overruled the defendant’s as-applied challenge. Moreover, because the defendant did not establish that the racing statute is unconstitutional as applied to him, he cannot succeed on a facial challenge. Read Opinion.
A very serious and sober opinion upholding the racing statute against a constitutional challenge that doesn’t seem like it gave the court too much trouble to reject.
Texas Attorney General Opinions
May a county judge preempt the Texas Pawnshop Act by issuing emergency orders regulating the business of pawnshops during a declared disaster?
No. Finance Code §371.005 provides that the Legislature has exclusive authority regarding the operation of pawnshops. A local official lacks authority to rewrite state law that the Legislature has expressly removed from local control. A court would likely find that the portions of Dallas County’s order purporting to regulate pawnshops by limiting the fees those businesses can charge and changing the length of time they must hold pledged goods are invalid and unenforceable. Read Opinion.
An interesting opinion regarding the interplay of statutes that remove local control and local emergency orders versus emergency declarations. The statute wins.
Does Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 59.06(d-2)(2) allow a sheriff’s office to make a donation from forfeited funds to a local non-profit entity to assist in the provision of mental health services, drug counselling services, and services for victims of domestic abuse?
Yes. A court would likely find that the sheriff of Schleicher County may donate civil forfeiture funds to a nonprofit entity to assist in the provision of one or more of the services specified in Code of Criminal Procedure Art 59.06(d-2), provided that the sheriff determines the expenditure is statutorily authorized and comports with the three-part test under Art. III, §52(a) of the Texas Constitution. Read Opinion.
Paying for office space helps provide mental health and drug treatment. This may be the easiest AG opinion of the year.