Kristofer Thomas Kastner has spent a lot of time battling the Texas Board of Law Examiners over its refusal to issue him a law license. Kastner represents himself in Kastner v. Texas Board of Law Examiners, et al. and filed an affidavit of inability to pay appellate costs and a request for a free record in a Travis County district court. The defendants objected to Kastner’s affidavit and request, an objection the trial court sustained. So Kastner appealed to Austin’s 3rd Court of Appeals. The opinion notes that the defendants argued in their brief to the 3rd Court that Kastner is “voluntarily underemployed.” Kastner denied that and countered that his eligibility for food stamps is “black letter inability to pay under” the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The 3rd Court ruled for the defendants on Aug. 18, noting that Kastner has been declared a “vexatious litigant” by the trial court and that his alleged indigence has been litigated “in numerous federal and state courts, including this one.” Justice Bob Pemberton wrote, “On this record, we cannot conclude that the district court abused its discretion in finding that Kastner failed to satisfy his burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he would be unable to pay the costs, or a part thereof, or give security therefore, if he really wanted to and made a good-faith effort to do so.” Kastner says in an interview that he plans to update his affidavits of inability to pay in the trial and appellate courts. He adds that he is starting a new job in customer service for an insurance company next month. “I don’t see the opinion as being set in stone,” Kastner says, arguing that he doesn’t have to be “completely indigent” to pursue an affidavit of inability to pay. Ted Ross, a Texas assistant attorney general who represents the defendants, declines comment on the decision.
-- John Council