As of the end of November 2012, Lawrence Meyers, who has served as a judge in the highest Texas Criminal Court for nineteen years, has a warrant out for his arrest. An Austin municipal court judge issued the warrant on October 20th for failure to pay a 2008 speeding ticket, and this is the third warrant issued over this ticket. His original fine was $193 for driving 19 miles over the speed limit on I-35, and he has repeatedly delayed the case:
August 12, 2008:
Meyers receives the ticket for driving 79 in a 60 mph zone in North Austin. He submits a not guilty plea but fails to appear in court. He requests a new court date, saying he was unaware of the original date.
August 13, 2010:
Meyers pleads no contest and is given 90 days to pay a $200 fine for speeding. He does not pay.
February 20, 2011:
The first warrant for Meyers’ arrest is issued by Judge Kirk Kuykendall. Meyers files a writ of habeas corpus after two months asking to overturn the judgment against him and restart the case. This is granted, the first arrest warrant is voided, and a new court date of August 12 is set.
August 12, 2011:
Meyers is again given 90 days to pay a $200 fine for speeding. He does not pay, and instead files a motion for a new trial in January.
January 2012 – June 29, 2012:
The new trial is delayed six times, mostly at Meyers’ request. The seventh requested delay is rejected and on June 29th, Meyer fails to appear in court. Judge Rebecca Sonego issues a second warrant for Meyers’ arrest.
August 8, 2012:
Meyers pleads guilty to speeding and is given two months to pay the fine, which is now $481 due to court costs and related fees. He does not pay. Judge Ferdinand D. Clervi issues the third and current warrant. Meyers can be taken to Travis County Jail at any time. Clervi is the thirteenth judge to preside over Meyers’ case.
Meyers says he has not paid his fine because by doing so, he would end his case and be unable to appeal. He claims Clervi essentially forced him to accept a plea deal from prosecutors to pay $481, and that he had only expected to pay between $100 and $200 dollars based on the speed he had been driving at the time he was given the ticket. The only other option Clervi gave him, says Meyers, was to post a $500 bond and go to trial. Meyers claims his right to make a plea in court was violated and that his fines are excessive. He says he “would’ve paid a fine within the range of punishment.” It is unlikely that police will track down and arrest Meyers over this warrant, but he could be arrested if he is pulled over again and found to have an outstanding warrant. Austin also periodically conducts warrant roundups.
In addition to this pending case, Meyers has another case in Austin Municipal court for running a stoplight in January 2010. He has not paid this fine and says he does not remember receiving that ticket, but will investigate the matter and pay what he owes. In 1988, he received a speeding ticket in Virginia that went unresolved until he was found guilty in absentia. He has also acknowledged improper use of campaign funds in his 2011 campaign against Presiding Judge Sharon Keller in the Republican primaries. He says he misunderstood restrictions on the use of political donations on personal items when he used $6,215 to pay property taxes on his home, part of which was used as campaign headquarters. He repaid the money to his campaign.
Meyers intends to prove, in a new trial requested by a new writ of habeas corpus, that he had a good reason for going “a little bit over the speed limit at that particular place and time.” He also says, “If you are breaking the law and you have no acceptable defense to that, then surely that is not acceptable. But that is not what I have right now.”
Let’s hope this Austin judge gets his tickets paid and clears up his warrant before the Austin Warrant Roundup begins in the spring. If you have outstanding tickets or a ticket warrant in Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio or Corpus Christi, DON’T JUST PAY – let the experienced traffic ticket lawyers at The Coquat Law Firm assist you in resolving your traffic ticket warrants.