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Posts under ‘Legal matters’

Abbott appeals school finance case to Supreme Court

No surprise. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Friday appealed to the Texas Supreme Court a district court finding that the state’s school finance system is unconstitutional. State District Judge John Dietz’s Aug. 30 ruling called Texas’ current school finance system inefficient and inadequate, saying it created an de facto statewide property tax in violation […]

County appeals Wilson decision

Here we go again. Harris County officials are asking an appeals court to reconsider the question of where Dave Wilson lived when he ran for his seat on the Houston Community College board, The Harris County Attorney’s office is appealing a reluctant ruling by state district Judge Mike Engelhart, who in August upheld a jury […]

Voter ID trial concludes

Now we wait for the judge. Texas’ voter ID law is discriminatory because it was designed to thwart emerging minority voting power in the state and should be dropped, attorneys for the law’s opponents said in closing arguments in a federal court on Monday. U.S. Department of Justice attorney Richard Dellheim repeated plaintiffs’ claims made […]

Law enforcement for same sex marriage

Bravo, y’all. The Democratic sheriffs of Texas’ two most populous counties have signed on with more than 60 other Texas law enforcement officials and first responders saying the state’s ban on same sex marriage not only disrespects but endangers front-line public safety officers. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia lent […]

Texas woman denied driver’s license over same-sex marriage

That’s the headline of this Observer story, and it’s just as infuriating as you think it is. A woman who recently relocated from California says the Texas Department of Public Safety refused to issue her an accurate driver’s license because her last name was changed through a same-sex marriage. After Connie Wilson married her partner […]

Fifth Circuit hears HB2 arguments

As always with anything that involves the Fifth Circuit, pessimism is called for. Federal appeals court judges who got their first look at the latest challenge to Texas’ tough new abortion law Friday appeared to show support for the law but some reluctance to immediately allow it to be enforced as the legal fight over […]

Plaintiffs respond to Abbott’s brief in same sex marriage appeal

They give it the respect it deserves. Lawyers for two same-sex couples who are trying to overturn Texas’ gay marriage ban said Tuesday that the state’s attempt to defend its prohibition has defied both logic and a stream of recent judicial rulings. “As numerous courts already concluded, no conceivable basis exists to deny same-sex couples […]

Voter ID trial testimony ends

The state of Texas put on its case in the voter ID trial. Lawyers from the Texas attorney general’s office presented witnesses Wednesday in federal court defending the state voter ID law as necessary and attempting to rebuff claims that it is discriminatory. The state’s case in the federal trial, now in its second week, […]

Defense to begin in voter ID lawsuit

Entering the home stretch. The Texas voter ID trial with national implications is shifting its focus in U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos’ courtroom Tuesday. After a week of testimony largely opposed to the law, the State of Texas’ legal team is slated to begin making its case for the law’s constitutionality and necessity after […]

The best coverage of the voter ID trial

You want to know what’s going on with the voter ID trial, which enters its second and likely final week today, go check out the Brennan Center for Justice, which has daily coverage that would put any newspaper to shame. Here’s a sample of what they’ve written so far: Texas Photo ID Trial Update: Opening […]

Abbott issues bag ban opinion

It’s complicated. Do plastic bag bans and restrictions in cities like Austin, Laredo, and Brownsville violate Texas law? According to an opinion issued by Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office handed down on Friday afternoon, that depends on how you define two phrases: “container or package” and “solid waste management.” Opinions on Texas law from the […]

Louisiana breaks the streak

One in every crowd, I guess. A federal judge [in New Orleans] upheld the state’s ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, going against what had been a unanimous trend of federal court decisions striking down such bans since the Supreme Court ruled on the matter last year. In his ruling, Judge Martin L. C. Feldman […]

Fifth Circuit will hear HB2 enforcement arguments next Friday

The temporary reprieve will last at least one more week. Texas abortion providers’ next hurdle in their legal fight against strict abortion regulations is set for next week in a hearing scheduled for federal court. State attorneys and lawyers representing a coalition of abortion providers will face off on Sept. 12 in New Orleans, where […]

All married city employees may continue to receive spousal benefits for now

Good news. Married same-sex couples will continue to receive health and life insurance benefits from the city of Houston, a federal judge ruled Friday, pending the outcome of an appeal in a separate lawsuit. [...] [Mayor Annise] Parker’s policy change spurred two lawsuits. The first lawsuit came from conservatives, who argued the policy change violates […]

What next for school finance?

That depends on the Attorney General and the Supreme Court, but one way or the other it’s up to the Legislature. State lawmakers from both parties agreed the responsibility for funding public schools falls on them. But history suggests the Legislature is reluctant to act until its hand is forced. “I would be surprised if […]

Abbott appeals HB2 ruling

As expected. As expected, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit Court Sunday to overturn a recent federal court ruling that found parts of Texas’ abortion law, House Bill 2, unconstitutional. Abortion providers filed suit over a regulation, that was set to take effect today (Sept. 1) that would mandate […]

Voter ID trial starts today

As one trial ends, the next one begins. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi will begin hearing arguments Tuesday on one of the nation’s most stringent voter ID measures, which Republican Gov. Rick Perry signed into law in 2011. A ruling is unlikely before Election Day, meaning that 13.6 million registered voters […]

Second phase of redistricting trial over

Much like the first phase, with some insults for one of the state’s key players thrown in for effect. Lawyers with the U.S. Justice Department and minority groups said in closing arguments in federal court Tuesday that state lawmakers illegally targeted Latino and African-American voters when redrawing congressional districts in 2011. Meanwhile, lawyers for the […]

Lawsuit over same sex benefits for city employees moved back to state court

The passage of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and the efforts to put a repeal referendum on the ballot have been one of the big local stories this year, but you may recall that before we were all talking about HERO there was another big story relating to equality in Houston. Last November, Mayor Parker […]

Ambulatory surgical center requirements of HB2 struck down

A last minute reprieve, though who knows for how long. A federal judge on Friday struck down new requirements for Texas abortion facilities — a decision that could have shuttered all but a few abortion clinics in the state. The standards were set to go into effect Monday. The lawsuit was brought by the Center […]

School finance system ruled unconstitutional again

A little light reading for your holiday weekend. Nearly three years after more than 600 Texas school districts filed litigation challenging the state’s school finance system, a Travis County district judge has ruled in their favor. In an almost 400-page opinion released Thursday, District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin said that the state’s school […]

HERO repealers try their luck with the Supreme Court

Because sure, why not? Opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance have asked the Texas Supreme Court to force the city secretary to certify the signatures on a petition they submitted seeking to trigger a repeal referendum on the law. Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals denied a similar request on Aug. 15, ruling that the emergency […]

“Environmental tort reform”

Oh, hell no. After failing in their attempt to limit cities and counties’ ability to take industrial polluters to court, some Houston businesses and statewide lobbyists now want to limit how much local governments can collect in penalties, a sort of environmental tort reform effort aimed squarely at a Harris County Attorney’s office they say […]

SCOTUS halts Virginia same-sex marriages for now

Everyone’s waiting for them to tackle the bigger question. The Supreme Court on Wednesday stopped Virginia officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, putting on hold a lower court ruling that said the unions could start on Thursday. The court stayed a decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the […]

Greg Enos turns his spotlight to Gary Polland

This ought to be good. There can be no doubt: Gary Polland is a smart, successful lawyer who knows how to make a lot of money from the practice of law. Polland is politically powerful and able to influence and profit from every Republican primary election. Polland should be your hero and role model if […]

Judge affirms Wilson residency verdict

No surprise. The Harris County Attorney’s office, which has been challenging [Dave] Wilson’s residency for months, asked state District Judge Mike Engelhart to throw out last month’s jury ruling, arguing that Wilson was breaking the law by claiming two residences. Engelhart said Monday that he “unfortunately” had to deny the motion, but he admonished Wilson […]

HERO repeal petition lawsuit set for January

There will be no HERO repeal referendum on the ballot this year, but depending on how the trial (and likely appeal) goes, there could be one next year. Opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance dropped their request for a temporary injunction Friday that could have triggered a process to set a repeal referendum this November. […]

Latest HB2 trial wraps up

And so we await a ruling, followed by whatever the Fifth Circuit will pull out of its posterior. Stefanie Toti, representing the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the requirements imposed by the ambulatory surgical center rules single out abortion providers, as three-fourths of other ASCs in the state are exempt from the costly building code […]

The case against tossing the HERO repeal petitions

Jerad Najvar makes a constitutional argument that the city of Houston should have accepted the HERO repeal petitions even though many of the petition pages fell short of the requirements laid out in the city charter. While we lack clarity as to exact numbers, it appears that given a blatant constitutional infirmity with part of […]

News flash: Greg Abbott wants to sue the EPA again

Nobody could have foreseen this! Foretelling a new environmental battle between state and federal regulators, Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday demanded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency back down from a proposal to expand the definition of federal waters to include seasonal and rain-dependent waterways. The proposal “is without adequate scientific and economic justification and, […]

On redistricting and race

Phase Two of the redistricting trial is underway, and if it sounds an awful lot like Phase One to you, you would be right. Texas’ Republican-controlled Legislature didn’t discriminate against minorities by drawing election maps in 2011 that voting-rights activists say make it harder for Hispanics and blacks to elect their candidates, a lawyer for […]

HERO repeal hopefuls try another venue

Whatever. Conservative opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance have asked an appeals court to force the city secretary to certify the signatures on their petitions to force a repeal referendum on the November ballot. Equal rights ordinance critics filed a request late Monday with Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals for an emergency writ of mandamus […]

Redistricting II: Congressional Boogaloo

Phase Two of the redistricting lawsuit trial begins today, in which the 2011 Congressional maps go under the microscope. That’s as good a time as any for the mandatory How Much All This Redistricting Litigation Is Costing Us story. Texans are on the hook for $3.9 million in costs for Attorney General Greg Abbott to […]

HERO repeal lawsuit moves back to state court

Are we dizzy yet? Conservative activists seeking to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance trumpeted a small victory Thursday when a court hearing resulted in the ordinance being suspended pending an Aug. 15 hearing. Mayor Annise Parker, anticipating a lawsuit, had already said she would not enforce the ordinance until there was more legal clarity, […]