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| Crime |

City, Tow and Storage Company's Attorneys Square Off In Supreme Court of Texas

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As mentioned Monday, the city had one of its attorneys -- in this case, Charles Estee, joined by one of the state's lawyers -- down in Austin yesterday presenting oral arguments before the Supreme Court of Texas in a long-running case involving towed cars that were seized by the Dallas Police Department from the storage facility. DPD and the city claim that all the cars taken were stolen or otherwise "involved in car-jackings or had altered serial numbers," and as far as the city's concerned, it had every right to take close to 300 cars from VSC's storage facility -- in one instance, in the middle of an auction -- without paying VSC the storage fees.

VSC doesn't claim the city doesn't have a right to take the cars, but it says DPD did so inappropriately in this instance, referring to the seizure as an unconstitutional taking for which it received not a cent in storage fees. (VSC claims the seizure cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.) Lower courts have agreed with VSC, for the most part; hence, the city's taking the case to state Supreme Court.

Yesterday's proceedings, available here, are must-see viewing for anyone who's ever had a car towed or who's ever towed a car. Far as VSC's attorney Jim Mosser's concerned, tow companies and storage facilities get a bad rap -- "the press has been unkind toward the towing industry," he tells Unfair Park this morning -- and the justices seemed awfully interested in learning about its myriad machinations. Because, look, they all drove a car to the court.

"As I've told the city before, what if people come in the M Streets and park in your driveway? Are you telling me they can't move 'em?" says Mosser, who claims the tow companies and VSC ran every cars' vehicle identification number, told the city it has the cars in their possession and had each one cleared by the North Texas Auto Theft Task Force before DPD's seizure.

"Watch the video from yesterday, and you'll see that point was made by my trustworthy and loyal associate Alexis Steinberg. She asks, 'If someone parked in the chief justice's space and he 's in a hurry, what is one to do? And Medina says, 'Oh, we'd tow it.' There is some humor in what took place yesterday, but the whole Supreme Court was well briefed, knowledgeable and paid close attention to the briefs. They asked important question germane to the public, and they didn't take sides. They want to apply the law."

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