Teneha “Police Trap” is History
At long last, it appears that law and order is breaking out in the small town of Teneha in Shelby County. A number of lawsuits against Teneha and Shelby County officials have been certified as "Class Action."
This means any person who has been victimized by Teneha police can be a plaintiff in a Class Action lawsuit against the officials.
For years, people driving through Teneha have been stopped and searched, and had their money confiscated. A former constable has testified that as many as 1,000 people were stopped for traffic violations to look for narcotics trafficking. Most were minorities.
A Nacogdoches attorney says Teneha officers would claim their dog alerted on drugs and that they could smell marijuana, but they never found it. They would arrest the motorists, but if money was found, the officials would keep it and let the motorists go free.
It's estimated that over a period of years, thousands of dollars were taken from motorists under laws that allow police to confiscate money and property of people arrested for drug offenses.
Teneha officials say they did nothing illegal, but people who were forced to forfeit their money say they were robbed.
A number of lawsuits have been filed, but individually the lawsuits have not stopped the practice. Now, a federal judge has ruled there's enough evidence to allow all the lawsuits to be combined into one big class action suit.
Defendants include several former and current Teneha city officials and several Shelby County officials.
Observers say this decision and the outcome of the lawsuit will go a long way toward stopping the alleged illegal searches, seizures and questionable interdictions in Teneha.
This notorious story has attracted national attention. Reporters from Texas Lawyer, local media and national news outlets, including CNN and the Wall Street Journal, have been following the case.