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I live in a smal TX town (<850 people), with one policeman and a chief overseen by mayor and town council, where there is a 250ft rule for no livestock within city limits & an exemption noted for children as part of FFA, 4H, etc.

Our daughter is 15, and belongs to multiple qualifying youth organizations, having rescued and had the animals 5yrs of where we've lived for 7yrs. Ordinance was written in 2012, first enforced (on me only) in 2021, and I was cited and posted bond moving it out of the town to have the county judge dismiss it 10 months later in ~15min (did not specify "with prejudice" unfortunately).

Originally the citation was due to a town citizen that never occupied his property, yet had argued that he wanted to have a cow & was told no. As part of the dismissal, the ADA suggested that we get our neighbors to sign a statement of no concern, which they all did - 26 signatures reflecting 100% response rate. 2mos after the dismissal, I was summoned again (without a new citation) this time with a bond of $1000 (1st bond was $200).

In so many words, the chief stated he was doing it again, because there is nothing that says he can't. The town has never created the exemption paperwork to assist in executing the mechanics of the ordinance. I have been given multiple verbal ultimatums by the chief that the only way we will keep our 2 mini horses and mini donkey (on 3 acres) is to request a variance at the town monthly meeting. However, the variance process is neither defined nor recognized in the code of ordinance. As significantly, there are at least 6-8 other properties in same open violation seen clearly from the street, that continue to be ignored by police. Is this not a clear case of selective enforcement, prosecution, and abuse of power?

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    What is your question?
    – user6726
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 16:54
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    so you are unhappy they are enforcing an ordinance? "Everyone else is doing it" is not a valid defense.
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 18:13
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    If your daughter qualifies for the exemption then register the animals in her name and be done with it. Have you tried this? BTW, your narrative is very muddled. For example: "Originally the citation was due to a town citizen that never occupied his property, yet had argued that he wanted to have a cow & was told no." What is the relevance of this to your circumstance?! Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 18:41
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    Also, what does the ordinance actually say? Livestock allowed to be within city limits for organized events like the local fair or a 4th of July parade is far different than raising them within city limits. Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 18:50
  • Tiger Guy My happiness is the least of my concerns here. To addend your comment, "Everyone else is doing it (approx 10), and none of them have been cited once, meanwhile I am on my second go round." Apparently, for not being a legacy Townie, because I moved here just 7yrs ago. Also, I tried to communicate that there is no precedent - this is their preliminary enforcing of this ordinance. Again, their ordinance mentions an exemption they are unwilling to recognize for us, as well as their ordinance does not recognize the variance process that was given to me as an ultimatum. Thoughts?
    – Rob 70S
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 22:43

1 Answer 1

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Selective prosecution is when a defendant (1) is charged with a crime based on conduct that others are generally not prosecuted for; and (2) is singled out for an impermissible reason, such as race, religion, or First Amendment-protected speech. Wayte v. United States, 470 U.S. 598, 608 (1985).

Because there is no indication that you are being targeted for an impermissible purpose, this does not appear to be selective prosecution.

It does sound like the chief is a jerk, but American courts do not care about that sort of thing.

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  • user6726 The question is both at the very top as well as being restated in bold at the very bottom.
    – Rob 70S
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 22:34

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