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Posts under ‘Legal matters’

Texas EquuSearch wins one in court

Good. Texas EquuSearch will resume flying drones during their search-and-recovery missions after a federal appeals court ruled Friday that a government “cease and desist” order banning their use wasn’t valid. In February, a Federal Aviation Administration official sent the volunteer group an email, saying its use of unmanned aircraft to search for missing people was […]

When is that appeal of the Texas same sex marriage ruling going to happen?

A little later than originally planned. It’s been five months since a federal judge struck down Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage. But Attorney General Greg Abbott says he needs more time to file a brief appealing U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s February decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court. Abbott’s brief was initially to the […]

Beaver versus beaver

It’s a trademark infringement lawsuit. What did you think I was referring to? In the animal world it may be that no two beavers are the same but semi-aquatic rodent diversity does not extend to the world of the convenience store, at least according to Buc-ee’s. The Texas-based legends of convenience store bathrooms and beef […]

Wilson wins residency fight

That was quick. Houston Community College trustee Dave Wilson lives in the residence he claimed and can keep his seat on the college system’s board, a jury decided Thursday. “Thank you,” Wilson shouted when the verdict was announced about 4:30 p.m. Harris County officials filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Wilson from office on grounds […]

Dave Wilson residency lawsuit is underway

Almost missed this. A trial is set to begin Tuesday morning to determine whether Houston Community College trustee Dave Wilson actually lived in the district in which he ran last November. Wilson, who ousted former HCC Chairman Bruce Austin in the Nov. 5 election by 26 votes, is being sued by the Harris County attorney. […]

What else is at stake in the redistricting trial

It’s about more than just the maps. Efforts by the Obama administration to wring protections out of a weakened Voting Rights Act begin Monday in Texas over allegations that Republicans intentionally discriminated against minorities when drawing new election maps. A federal trial in San Antonio comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court made a […]

Judge rules that the voter ID lawsuit will go to trial

In addition to the start of the redistricting trial, we have some news on the voter ID lawsuit front, and it’s generally good news for the good guys. Last week’s ruling, in which U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos denied almost all of a set of motions filed by [AG Greg] Abbott’s office to […]

Next phases of redistricting lawsuit scheduled

Part One takes place next week. The trial over 2011 House district boundaries begins July 14 in U.S. District Court, where a hearing Tuesday shed light on how the case could unfold. The proceeding are expected to last at least six days — Monday through Saturday — with testimony from about 50 witnesses. The court […]

Students against voter ID

A new front is opened in the fight against voter ID. Civil rights groups have spent a decade fighting requirements that voters show photo identification, arguing that this discriminates against African-Americans, Hispanics and the poor. This week in a North Carolina courtroom, another group will make its case that such laws are discriminatory: college students. […]

Three new judges coming

Nice. Breaking a longstanding logjam, President Obama announced nominees for three vacant Texas federal court benches late Thursday. If confirmed, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman of San Antonio, Texarkana lawyer Robert Schroeder III, and Sherman Magistrate Judge Amos Mazzant III will all get lifetime jobs as U.S. district court judges. “Any nominations are critically important, as […]

Motion to recuse Judge Dietz denied

Good. State District Judge John Dietz will not be forced off Texas’ ongoing school finance case, a San Antonio judge ruled Monday, handing a victory to school districts suing the state over what they call an unconstitutional lack of adequate funding for public education. Earlier this month, Attorney General Greg Abbott sought to have Dietz […]

Another win for the EPA at the Supreme Court

And thus another loss for Greg Abbott and Rick Perry. The Supreme Court on Monday mostly validated the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to regulate power plant and factory emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming while imposing some limits on the agency’s reach. The justices said the EPA could not rewrite specific standards written […]

Equality is about more than marriage

It’s about families, and lots of other things, too. Joe Riggs and Jason Hanna never expected to make national news after a surrogate mom gave birth to their twins. Riggs, 33, and Hanna, 37, have been together almost four years. They’re best known in the community for collecting teddy bears at Christmas for Children’s Hospital […]

A Greg Abbott threefer

Trail Blazers: Dallas appeals court rules fired prosecutor can pursue whistleblowing case against Greg Abbott’s office In May 2009, a former assistant attorney general in Greg Abbott’s office sued the Office of the Attorney General in Dallas County court, claiming she’d been fired for refusing to lie under oath about a Dallas County judge. Five […]

More plaintiffs respond to Abbott’s recusal motion

I think it’s fair to say that the plaintiffs are strongly opposed to Greg Abbott’s attempt to get Judge Dietz recused in the school finance trial. Lawyers representing hundreds of school districts pushed back Thursday against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s effort to remove a judge who is weighing the constitutionality of the school finance […]

Judge Dietz refuses to recuse himself

Game on. The Travis County District Court judge overseeing a contentious trial over the state’s school finance system rejected a request by the attorney general’s office to recuse himself from the case. Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office asked state District Judge John Dietz to remove himself from the proceedings after learning of emails between Dietz […]

State wants judge removed from school finance case

Keep an eye on this. Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office on Monday sought to remove the judge presiding over the public school finance case, contending that his impartiality is in question due to email exchanges with lawyers that filed the lawsuit. A lawyer for one group of the school districts that sued over the funding […]

Judge prevents state from intervening in same sex divorce case

Back off, Greg Abbott. A San Antonio judge Wednesday denied a bid from the state of Texas to stop divorce and child-custody proceedings between a same-sex couple. State District Judge Barbara Nellermoe also set a custody hearing for May 29 in which Kristi Lesh and Allison Flood Lesh will fight over custody of their nearly […]

It was a bad week for the strip clubs

Another adverse court ruling. A state appeals court on Friday upheld the legality of the state’s so-called “pole tax” on nude entertainment clubs, the latest decision in a six-year battle by Texas officials to collect the $5-per-customer fee from more than 200 strip clubs. In a 16-page decision, the 3rd Court of Appeals overruled a […]

More on Abbott and Duntsch

The Observer follows up its earlier reporting on disastrous doctor Christopher Duntsch and the efforts of Greg Abbott to ensure he is never held accountable for his actions. When I wrote about Duntsch last August, there were quite a few unanswered questions. Chief among them: Why did he do it? Was he a sociopath? A […]

Combs tells strip clubs to pay up

Interesting. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs is pressing the state’s strip clubs to cough up millions of dollars she says they owe under a new “pole tax” even though the $5-a-patron fee still faces a court challenge. “Any claim that ongoing litigation is a basis for nonpayment of the Sexually Oriented Business Fee is not valid,” […]

A deeper dive into the Pratt files

The Chron takes a closer look at some of the people affected by the tenure of now-former Judge Denise Pratt. Kevin Bates’ sojourn through Pratt’s court began in 2012, via a visitation dispute with his ex-wife over their 16-year-old daughter. A court order in the couple’s divorce said the private pilot was supposed to pick […]

Lawsuit filed over teacher evaluation system

A new front is opened in the war on standardized testing. Seven HISD teachers and their union are suing the school district to try to end job evaluations tied to students’ test scores, arguing the method is arbitrary, unfair and in violation of their due-process rights. The lawsuit, filed in federal court late Wednesday, could […]

Two wins against voter ID

Good news from Wisconsin. Trying to crack down on in-person voter fraud isn’t a strong enough justification for Wisconsin’s voter ID law, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, because voter impersonation virtually never occurs now and is unlikely to become a real problem in the future. In striking down the 2011 law signed by Gov. Scott […]

SCOTUS upholds CSAPR

Some very good news for people who like to breathe. The question was who should pay for air pollution that crosses state lines. The answer, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, is blowing in the wind. States in the Midwest and South whose polluted air flows north and east must comply with a federally imposed solution, […]

EquuSearch sues over drones

This ought to be interesting. Texas EquuSearch filed suit Monday against the federal government to overturn the grounding of its fleet of aerial drones used to search for missing people. Tim Miller, founder and director of EquuSearch, said the Feb. 21 Federal Aviation Administration order prohibiting the operation of four drones has meant the nonprofit […]

State court rules gay marriage ban is unconstitutional

That’s two rulings in Texas, with this one referencing the federal ruling from February. In a move that follows suit with a federal ruling issued in February, a state district judge has deemed Texas’ restrictions on same-sex marriage unconstitutional – paving the way for a San Antonio couple’s divorce proceedings and subsequent child custody battle […]

Lawsuit filed over Senate map

From Texas Redistricting: [Monday] morning, two Texas voters filed a suit in federal court challenging the state senate map drawn by the Texas Legislature on the grounds that it violated the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment by using total population rather eligible voters to draw districts. The plaintiffs in the case are backed […]

First wage theft complaints filed in Houston

I hope these workers get the justice they seek. For three years Erik Lopez and his three brothers say they each often worked 80-hour weeks, building highway ramps and trash landfills for city projects. Yet they say their employer refused to pay them overtime. Nor did the company provide tax forms, such as a W-2, […]

Will the Ashby Highrise ever be built?

The Chron reviews the bidding so far prior to Monday’s Ashby hearing. Key to the jury’s finding was that the project should be considered a nuisance. The residents’ attorneys will ask the judge to grant a permanent injunction for the Ashby high-rise, stopping the project from being built. The developers’ side will ask the judge […]

City asks court to let Ashby Highrise be built

Interesting. The city on Friday asked a judge to let the Ashby high-rise project go forward after seven years of wrangling and a recent jury verdict in favor of nearby residents who oppose the 21-story tower planned for 1717 Bissonnet. City Attorney David Feldman said halting construction of a project that satisfied the regulations in […]

Court rules for the EPA against Texas again

Another win for the environment. A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the Obama administration’s new rules that for the first time limit emissions of mercury and other harmful pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a Texas-based challenge […]

Time is running out to undo Pratt’s mass dismissals

Remember when now-former Judge Denise Pratt dismissed hundreds of cases at the end of 2013 without notice? Since her abrupt resignation last month, other Family Court judges have been trying to clean up the mess she left behind. This includes reaching out to lawyers and clients that were affected by the New Year’s Eve purge. […]

Planned Parenthood petitions Fifth Circuit for en banc review of HB2 ruling

From the inbox: Today, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas filed a petition on behalf of their patients to request that the full bench of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals consider the constitutionality of harmful abortion restrictions that were struck down by  a federal district court last fall. On March 27, a three-judge panel of the court […]