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Posts under ‘Legal matters’

Judge Jordan deserves to have his position in the bail lawsuit represented

I have problems with this. The only Harris County judge to fight the county’s defense of its controversial bail system has been notified he will not get his own lawyer to appeal the high-profile federal lawsuit that has divided county leaders. Judge Darrell Jordan – one of 16 criminal court at law judges sued over […]

More “sanctuary cities” plaintiffs gearing up

Local governments are not going down without a fight. On Tuesday, which organizers said was the beginning of a “summer of resistance,” Austin City Council member Delia Garza said the city will move this week to take formal action to stop SB 4 in the courtroom. “I am proud to announce today, with much gratitude […]

Lawsuit filed against Houston panhandling ordinance

From the inbox: The ACLU of Texas announced today that it had filed a lawsuit on behalf of three homeless Houstonian plaintiffs adversely affected by the City of Houston’s camping and panhandling ordinances. Taken together, these ordinances illegally deprive homeless Houstonians of shelter, infringe on their right to free speech and ultimately constitute a criminalization […]

More “sanctuary cities” litigation in the works

Coming soon. Civil rights groups vigorously opposed to Texas’s new anti-“sanctuary cities” law – which would allow the jailing of sheriffs and police chiefs if they refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities – expect to file within the next two weeks long-awaited lawsuits seeking to block the measure, they said. They are prepared to […]

Harris County bail order halted

Very late in the day on Friday. A federal appeals court granted Harris County a last-minute reprieve Friday in a contentious civil rights lawsuit, calling a temporary halt to a judge’s order that would have altered the way cash bail is handled for hundreds of people jailed on misdemeanor charges. In an order posted after […]

Harris County will continue to fight bail lawsuit

Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Harris County has appealed a federal civil rights lawsuit that challenged the county’s bail system, despite rising legal costs that have neared $3 million. After a heated discussion and a closed-door meeting Tuesday, Harris County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 to appeal the suit and to ask for a delay to a […]

First anti-“sanctuary cities” lawsuit filed

That was quick. Senate Bill 4 has drawn its first lawsuit. The League of United Latin American Citizens, Maverick County and the city of El Cenizo sued the state of Texas on Monday, claiming that SB 4 has failed to properly define a “sanctuary city,” and that the city and county — both on the […]

Paxton gets ahead of the “sanctuary cities” lawsuit rush

That’s one way to do it, I suppose. Attorney General Ken Paxton is looking to get ahead of an anticipated barrage of legal challenges to Texas’ ban on “sanctuary cities,” which takes effect Sept. 1. Shortly after Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 into law on Sunday, Paxton filed a lawsuit — known as […]

“What are we fighting for?”

That’s the key question for the county in the bail lawsuit. As legal costs mount, surpassing $200,000 per month, pressure is building for Harris County officials to settle a lawsuit over the county’s cash bail system that a federal judge has ruled unconstitutional. Newly available documents reveal that teams of defense lawyers are racking up […]

Who’s your lawyer?

Ross Ramsey has a simple question. Do you remember the name of the lawyer who advised the Texas House and Senate when they wrote the 2011 voter ID bill? That’s the law a federal judge in Corpus Christi found to be intentionally discriminatory on the basis of race. An appeals court told her to throw […]

Why won’t the county settle the damn bail lawsuit?

Lisa Falkenberg asks the same question I’ve been asking. Now that Chief U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal – it should be noted, a Republican appointee — levelled her devastating assessment of Harris County’s rigid bail system a few days ago, ordering county officials to cease practices that violate misdemeanor defendants’ rights to due process and […]

County considers its bail options

I can think of one, if they need some help. With just two weeks until the 193-page order from Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal kicks in May 15, county officials are working to draft a plan to deal with the hundreds of misdemeanor offenders now behind bars and the new cases filed each […]

Court denies motion for appeals in redistricting case and sets trial date

We are moving along in this process after such a long long looooooooooooooooong wait to get here. A three-judge panel on Monday denied Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to appeal a March ruling that said the Legislature intentionally discriminated against minority voters when it approved new congressional districts in 2011. Texas needed the federal […]

Harris County bail system ruled unconstitutional

Damn right. A federal judge in Houston Friday issued a scathing denouncement of Harris County’s cash bail system, saying it is fundamentally unfair to detain indigent people arrested for low-level offenses simply because they can’t afford to pay bail. In a 193-page ruling released Friday, Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal ordered the county […]

Trial to be set to determine 2018 maps

Some questions answered, still more raised. As the 2018 election cycle nears, it appears Texas and its legal foes are headed for a trial — yet again — over what the state’s House and congressional boundaries will look like, and it will likely come this summer. “I think the trial is certain,” said Jose Garza, […]

Federal court blocks Trump “sanctuary cities” order

Good. A federal judge in San Francisco dealt the Trump administration another legal blow Tuesday, temporarily halting President Donald Trump’s threat to withhold federal funding from cities and towns that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. U.S. District Judge William Orrick imposed a nationwide injunction against a Jan. 25 executive order authorizing the attorney general […]

Big day for redistricting in court

Tomorrow the questions of what happens next in the redistricting lawsuits begin to get answered. Will Texas soon see new political maps that are friendlier to Latino and black voters and, in turn, Democrats? If so, who would draw them: the scolded Republican-led Legislature or the courts themselves? Will the maps land ahead of the […]

Two more redistricting updates

From KUT, will we have a new Congressional map for next year? [Gerry Hebert, one of the plaintiff attorneys], says he’s hopeful there won’t be yet another election with the old maps. “The timing of the court’s decision is absolutely giving us an opportunity to get a new congressional redistricting plan for the 2018 election,” […]

ADA voting rights lawsuit update

Interesting. A federal judge in Houston put Harris County on notice Friday that the scope of accessibility violations at local polling places could be so vast that a special master may be needed to sort them out. U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett said he is considering an independent review of the county’s 765 polling […]

Legislative maps found to have discriminatory intent

Wow. Texas lawmakers intentionally diluted the political clout of minority voters in drawing the state’s House districts, a panel of federal judges ruled Thursday. In a long-awaited ruling, the San Antonio-based judges found that lawmakers in 2011 either violated the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act by intentionally diluting the strength of minority voters […]

Attorney’s fees awarded to same sex marriage plaintiffs

Justice. Texas is on the hook for more than $600,000 in fees associated with its unsuccessful fight to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Affirming a lower court ruling on the fees, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this week shot down Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s challenge to the award amount granted […]

The status of Section 3

Lyle Denniston looks at a key aspect of the voting rights-related lawsuits in Texas. About four years after the Supreme Court took away the government’s strongest authority to protect minority voters’ rights, a backup power under the federal Voting Rights Act – weaker and harder to use – is now being threatened, just as federal […]

State wants to appeal redistricting ruling

From Texas Redistricting: The State of Texas filed a motion [Wednesday] afternoon with the three-judge panel in the Texas redistricting case, asking the panel to give the state permission to appeal the panel’s March 10 ruling on the state’s 2011 congressional plan (Plan C185) to the Fifth Circuit. Texas told the court that it sought […]

Lawsuit filed over Muslim ban documents

From the inbox: The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit [Wednesday] demanding government documents about the on-the-ground implementation of President Trump’s Muslim ban. Today’s action is part of a total of 13 FOIA lawsuits filed by ACLU affiliates across the country. The ACLU of Texas lawsuit is […]

Voter ID law declared discriminatory

Again. A federal judge has ruled — for the second time — that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Latino and black voters in passing a strict voter identification law in 2011. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled Monday that Texas “has not met its burden” in proving that lawmakers passed the nation’s strictest photo […]

Some Texas voting rights lawsuit updates

This has been a busy week for litigation related to voting rights issues in Texas. Here are updates to some cases, all of which happened this past week. From Texas Redistricting: The three-judge panel in the Texas redistricting case has set a status conference for April 27, at 9:30 a.m. in San Antonio to discuss […]

Pasadena Council not happy with redistricting appeal

Or maybe they’re just not happy with soon-to-be-former Mayor Isbell. Either way, they showed it. In a sign of waning confidence in its legal position, the Pasadena City Council voted Tuesday to withhold payment from the law firm that’s trying to prove that the city’s redistricting plan doesn’t discriminate against Hispanics. The 7-1 vote, with […]

MALDEF files suit over change to recapture

This is a twist. Texas education officials illegally changed how property taxes are calculated in wealthy school districts, with the effect of substantially reducing the funds available for schools in poorer districts, a lawsuit filed Thursday charged. The change would cost the state’s poorer schools districts and their students approximately $440 million per year or […]

State files opposition to motion for new Congressional maps

From Texas Redistricting: The State of Texas has filed its opposition to redistricting plaintiffs’ request for an order that would permanently block the current Texas congressional map and require a redraw of the map for the 2018 election. The state told the court that any ruling on the injunction request was premature since the court […]

Paxton stands by that Muslim ban

Till the bitter end. Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday led a coalition of 13 states in filing a brief with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals defending President Donald Trump’s revised immigration order. In the brief, Paxton and representatives from 12 other states argue that the Trump administration’s new order is legal and […]

An ironic might-have-been on redistricting

From Rick Casey. The three judges who decided the case include one Democrat and two Republicans. Ironically, the decision may have gone the other way if one of the judges hadn’t been punished for joining in an earlier ruling in the case. Here’s the backstory. Judge Rodriguez, a graduate of Harvard University and the University […]

Motion filed to block current Congressional map

From the Lone Star Project. Moments ago the Plaintiffs in the ongoing Texas congressional redistricting case filed a joint motion asking the San Antonio Federal District Court for an injunction to block the use of the current congressional map during the 2018 mid-term elections.  The motion also suggests a schedule to adopt a new map […]

Back to court for Buc-ee’s

They seem to do this a lot. Buc-ee’s, the local convenience store chain known for clean restrooms, cheap gasoline and its cartoon beaver mascot, is trying to stop a Nebraska company from muscling in on the Texas market with plans to build stores called “Bucky’s,” the latest development in a decade-long dispute between the dueling […]

So what does that redistricting ruling really mean?

The Trib has a good explainer. So will the Legislature redraw the congressional map? And if so, when? Here’s where it gets tricky. Friday’s order made it clear that the 2011 map cannot stand, but it did not order anyone to immediately redraw it. That might be because that map wasn’t actually in effect. Amid […]