Yesterday in Corpus Christi, before Nueces County Justice of the Peace Janice Stoner, a tow victim brought a probable cause hearing for the towing of his vehicle from a private parking lot. By all merits, the tow victim had 9 documented violations of the Occupation Code Chapter 2308.251 - 2308.404. The documented evidence included photographs of an illegally worded tow sign mounted behind a pole not conspicuously facing the driver.
This Judge, who is not an attorney, left the bench to make a phone call because she appeared confused, only to return to the bench ruling the tow company had probable cause because the "Occupations Code had nothing to do with private property".
The victim was in utter disbelief that an elected Judge would make such an outrageous statement. It's no wonder illegal towing victims in Corpus Christi are disgusted with the behavior of towing companies there.
As I told the victim, the battle has just began, as he should immediately file a complaint with the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct for Stoner's incompetence in not knowing the law. Then file an online complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations against the tow company license, the tow truck operator's license and vehicle storage facility license, for the documented violations with the evidence he has gathered.
The next step after these complaints are filed, he should contact David Walters at 512-236-1114 for legal representation in going after the parking facility owner, management company or authorized agent. This statutory violation hearing process is to recover the civil penalty that he will collect from the parking facility for committing the violation(s).
In his case, it will be filed in County Court with a jury since JP Courts are not allowed to award more than $10,000. The victim has 9 documented violations which would be $9000 if the Judge or Jury convicts on all 9 counts, based on what the law states. Then, he would figure three times what he paid to get his vehicle back, $293.30 and multiply that number times 9 ($7919.10) bringing the total civil penalty to $16,919.00 plus the filing fee.
The only way one can expect Justice in any tow hearing, is to request a jury trial, the filing fee is the same as that of a tow hearing. So if you lose the tow hearing, since lying and hearsay is permissible, don't hesitate going to the next phase and file a statutory violation hearing with the assistance of an specialized illegal towing attorney. Keep all your documents, photographs and recorded conversation from the tow hearing. Matter of fact, if you win the tow hearing, use exactly the same evidence and file for a statutory violation hearing, the filing fee is the same.