Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
JERRY MCKINNEY, D/B/A JERRY MCKINNEY MOTOR COMPANY, A/K/A JERRY MCKINNEY MOTORS APPELLANTS
RON WRIGHT, AS TAX ASSESSOR COLLECTOR OF TARRANT COUNTY APPELLEE
THE 67TH DISTRICT COURT OF TARRANT COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
SUDDERTH, C.J.; GABRIEL and KERR, JJ.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
Jerry McKinney, d/b/a Jerry McKinney Motor Company, a/k/a
Jerry McKinney Motors appeals from the trial court's
judgment in this suit under chapter 23 of the Texas Tax Code.
is a Texas motor vehicle dealer to whom the Texas Department
of Motor Vehicles has issued a general distinguishing number.
See Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 23.121(a)(3) (West
2015). He was required to file with the Tarrant County Tax
Assessor-Collector a Dealer's Motor Vehicle Inventory Tax
Statement providing certain information about every motor
vehicle that he sold over the previous month or indicating
that no motor vehicles were sold during the previous month.
See id. § 23.122(e), (f) (West 2015). In
addition, McKinney was required to deposit with the Tarrant
County Tax Assessor-Collector a monthly unit property tax
imposed on certain motor vehicles sold over the previous
month. See id. § 23.122(b).
was required to file his monthly Dealer's Motor Vehicle
Inventory Tax Statements and deposit his unit property tax no
later than the tenth day of the month. See id.
§ 23.122(b), (f). For each statement he failed to timely
file, McKinney was subject to a misdemeanor fine not to
exceed $100, with each day of noncompliance constituting a
separate violation. Id. § 23.122(m). In
addition, for each month or part of a month in which McKinney
failed to timely file a statement, he forfeited a penalty of
$500. Id. § 23.122(n). With respect to the unit
property tax, if McKinney failed to pay the amount due, he
was subject to a penalty of five percent of the amount due.
See id. § 23.122(o). And if he failed to pay
the amount due within ten days after it was due, he was
subject to an additional penalty of five percent of the
amount due. See id.
trial court conducted a bench trial in which the parties
stipulated to all the findings of fact adopted by the trial
court and agreed to the admissibility of Plaintiff's
Exhibits 1 and 2. After the stipulations and admission of the
exhibits, the parties rested and closed. The stipulated facts
established that McKinney had failed to pay $1, 904.07 in
unit property taxes from 2014 through 2016 as required by
section 23.122(b); that because of his failure to timely pay
those unit property taxes, he owed $223.67 in late-payment
penalties under section 23.122(o); and that because of his
failure to timely file his Dealer's Motor Vehicle
Inventory Tax Statements, he owed penalties in the amount of
$127, 002.95 under section 23.122(n). The trial court
rendered judgment accordingly. In three issues, McKinney
challenges the $127, 002.95 in penalties he was assessed
under section 23.122(n).
first issue, McKinney argues that the $127, 002.95 in
penalties violates the Texas constitution's prohibition
against excessive fines. See Tex. Const. art. I,
§ 13. In his second issue, McKinney argues the penalties
violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause
because of their excessive nature. See U.S. Const.
amend. XIV, § 1.
I, section 13 of the Texas constitution provides that
"[e]xcessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive
fines imposed." Tex. Const. art. I, § 13. The term
"fines" in this provision includes civil penalties.
Pennington v. Singleton, 606 S.W.2d 682, 690 (Tex.
1980). Prescribing fines is a matter within the discretion of
the legislature. State v. Morello, No. 16-0457, 2018
WL 1025685, at *6 (Tex. Feb. 23, 2018). And "we will not
override the legislature's discretion, except in
extraordinary cases, where it becomes so manifestly violative
of the constitutional inhibition as to shock the sense of
mankind." Id. (cleaned up).
with respect to due process, the legislature has wide
discretion when it comes to imposing fines and violates due
process in doing so "only where the penalty prescribed
is so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned
to the offense and obviously unreasonable."
Pennington, 606 S.W.2d at 690 (quoting St.
Louis, Iron Mountain, & S. Ry. Co. v. Williams, 251
U.S. 63, 66-67 (1919)).
State v. Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Ry.
Co., 97 ...