The arresting officer reported back to his superior that Groden had been kept in jail long enough, before bonding out, to be made uncomfortable by denial of access to needed medications. The superior officer emailed the arresting officer back congratulating him on a job well done. So how could the jury blame the officer alone?

No court has ever ruled that the city's ticketing and arrest of Groden was anything but illegal. Up to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the courts have consistently ruled against the city. But this federal jury ruled that Groden and his lawyer had not proven to them that the police officer who arrested him was personally responsible for violating his federally protected civil rights in a way that would make the officer alone vulnerable to a verdict for damages.

So where, exactly, does that leave it, and why do I fear mischief ahead? First of all, Groden will never leave the fight while he's still breathing. "I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing for the last 20 years," he told me. "I'm going to stay in the plaza.

Robert Groden expects Dallas to keep coming after him on Dealey Plaza.
Mark Graham
Robert Groden expects Dallas to keep coming after him on Dealey Plaza.

"The one good thing we did get out of this is what they have been calling the Groden law, the fact that the ordinance has been written to protect what we do, until they try something new, I suppose."

But Kizzia pointed to my car-wash stories and sketched for me a disturbing theme common to both. I can raise Cain all I want about the city breaking the law by ticketing the car washers. The courts can rule as often as they like in Groden's favor, deciding that the city has been ticketing and arresting him without any basis in law.

But there is no price. There is no cost to the city. Kizzia said, "It's one thing to waste city resources and police resources to harass somebody out of business, throw them in jail, and then, you know, fight it all the way up to the court of criminal appeals and then lose and have those courts declare what you probably already knew, that you were using an inapplicable ordinance. But what's the cost of that?

"If they can do that and never face any consequences other than to have the court say, 'Hey, what you did was wrong,' then they'll do it again." He called the car-wash deal "another example of an inapplicable ordinance that they are using as bullies to force their will upon somebody. Until a court and jury assess some financial consequences of that, you know, I suspect they're going to keep doing it."

Obviously that's where the two stories come together for me. Whether you like the car washers, don't like Groden, whatever, the unifying theme is a dangerous official arrogance. Dallas City Hall has learned it can get away with ticketing and even arresting people even though city officials including police officials know full well that those people have done no wrong, and even when City Hall gets caught doing it there will be no cost.

If there is any fear of God at all tempering the police campaign against the car wash, it is City Hall's knowledge that the owners of the car wash have the ear of powerful state legislators who have intervened to protect them in the past and could do so again. In the last round almost 10 years ago, everybody from the mayor to the police chief wound up in front of a committee in Austin eating crow. People have short memories and this is an all-new cast at City Hall since then, but maybe they have looked at some of the old video.

In the Groden case, he and his lawyer have an even tighter, more hardball strategy to hold the city at bay. Kizzia told me the federal civil rights case produced an unanticipated trove of evidence tying Groden's plight to a conspiracy between the city and the semi-private Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, a longtime and sworn Groden nemesis.

Groden is suing the museum in state court and that suit may be his best chance to hold the city off. As we saw at the time of the 50th, the museum is a favorite project of the city's old guard establishment, who would surely hate to see it severely gouged.

Really it's a shame that the museum ever found its way into the center of this crossfire. But we should all be able to get what Groden and Kizzia are saying: The persecution of Groden and the car-wash story, taken together, are ample proof that City Hall will keep on illegally bullying people this way until there is a price.

If there is no price painful enough to impress City Hall, maybe there will be one for the museum. Something has to get their attention.

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11 comments
masacasa11
masacasa11

I think the judge made an appropriate call on this lawsuit, Jim. Groden's lawyer should have specifically target people he could prove directed the police officer to allegedly violate Groden's rights, not the entire city of Dallas governing officials. Bad attack strategy on the lawyer's part. Kinda like suing the FAA for an airplane causing your window to shatter or your cow to run off from the pasture. Robert Groden makes money telling Dealey Plaza visitors that 'the Government' or 'the CIA' murdered JFK in Dallas but cannot prove any specific individual did such. What BS works on gullible visitors does not work in a court of law. Hats off to the judge.

Mainer_manor
Mainer_manor

Nice connecting of the dirty dots JS. The combination of 'you can't fight City Hall' with the machinations of unelected political appointees does not bode well for the citizenry.

cajunscouse9
cajunscouse9

The National Parks Service should find a way to purchase the site and keep these kooks from disturbing people who are visiting what is essentially hallowed ground. Every time I take friends or family, many who've never been before, we have to dodge people with handouts who are looking for a handout. It detracts from the solemnity. That God awful souvenir shop is terrible as well. Good taste has gone by the wayside.

scottie1620
scottie1620

Costing the City of Dallas money for violating Groden's civil rights would be of no benefit to anybody. The money would come from the pockets of citizen taxpayers, NOT the Mayor and City Council, DPD Administration and other individuals involved in this mess. What is needed is a lawsuit specifically naming individuals and seeking remuneration from THEM!


Let's face it - our city government is a disgrace. That was proven by the 13-2 decision to allow DPD to search bank accounts of "suspected" criminals in clear violation of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. But, we elected these bums, so it is our own fault that we have such a disgraceful and incompetent city government. We need to throw out every one of those bums and start over with a new City Council that will then replace the administrations of every city department with people who will serve the public interest above all other interests.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

As I begin my course on Texas Government, focusing on our Constitution, it's not hard to see why the city keeps getting away with this kind of stuff - because our Constitution could not be more broken, leaving us pretty much in a state of anarchy.  Keeping it that way, judges and politicians are free to interpret it in their favor in the most insanely ridiculous ways.


roo_ster
roo_ster

Any of this sort of abuse of authority is bad and ought to be exposed and quashed. But the character of the abused will have an impact on folks give-a-damn meter.

The car wash owners and wash for pay folks are making a living providing a useful service. Groden is at best a tinfoil hatter and at worst a scam artist. Just less sympathy for such folk. Even if they are being wronged.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

Great work Jim. I hear the City of Dallas is employing different type of bullying tactics to the residents who are trying to expose the malfeasance that continues at Dallas Executive Airport and White Rock Lake/Arboretum.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@scottie1620 

re:  "What is needed is a lawsuit specifically naming individuals "

According to the article there is a lawsuit - but a retiring judge released all the accused evil-doers, leaving only the cop who was ordered to write one of the tickets as a defendant.

James080
James080

@roo_ster Groden esteems himself a photographic expert on the basis of working at a Photomat. He testified as an expert int he OJ trial and really came off as an clueless amateur. Read the transcripts, they are on the internet. What a joke.

Mainer_manor
Mainer_manor

@roo_ster 

"Groden is at best a seeker of truth and at worst someone with whom I don't agree."

ftfy

 
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