Arrest Warrant Issued For 76-Year-Old Over 10 Cents Due To Court Error

Author: Stephen Dean, Investigative Reporter, sdean@kprc.com
Published On: Oct 10 2011 07:05:09 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 26 2011 06:00:54 AM CDT
HOUSTON -

The Houston Municipal court system admits an 'administrative error' over 10 cents led to a 76-year-old receiving notice that she could be arrested.

"It's crazy," said Carol Dillman, who received a delinquency notice that mentioned an arrest warrant was possible, after she paid a fine for seatbelt violation.

She wrote a $150 check, which was reflected on the back of the ticket, but Houston Municipal Court said she actually owed $150.10.

The discrepancy over a dime led to an automated delinquency notice, which warned Dillman that she could face an arrest warrant if it is not corrected.

"As soon as it was brought to our attention, we dismissed it," said Gwendolyn Goins with Municipal Court.

She said any underpayment automatically triggers a delinquency notice.

Goins added late Tuesday afternoon that a judge would have reviewed the case prior to a warrant actually being issued, and any judge would have dismissed the issue at that point.

"She wouldn't have been arrested," said Goins.

She said that even if a warrant had been issued, any police officer would verify it before making an arrest. Goins said the court would have never verified a warrant over a 10-cent underpayment.

Goins said the usual process fell off track. That process would normally have all delinquencies evaluated as part of an administrative court docket.

Instead of reaching that docket where the case would have been tossed, Goins said the case did not come up for that review, which caused the notice to be sent.

"I don't know how many others this has happened to," said Dillman.

Goins said anyone who encounters such a notice should simply call the courthouse, where clerks can easily remedy the issue.