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Posts under ‘Legal matters’

State to help defend county bail policies

Of course it will. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the top lawyers in five other states are backing Harris County in its protracted battle over money bail for poor low-level defendants, as the tally of those released on no-cash bail nears 1,000. Paxton and the lead attorneys in Arizona, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska […]

Ellis seeks Harris County entry into SB4 litigation

From the inbox, an email from Commissioner Ellis: Despite strong opposition from law enforcement officials, faith leaders, local governments, civil rights organizations, constituents, and advocacy groups, Senate Bill 4 (SB4), the “show-me-your-papers” legislation, has been signed into law. The new legislation unfairly targets immigrant families, allows state-sanctioned racial profiling, and violates rights to due process. […]

Another look at redistricting in Texas

We’re in the spotlight right now. The odd shapes tell the story. A huge Republican majority in the Houston-area 2nd congressional district represented by Ted Poe curls around the region from Lake Houston, northeast of the city, makes a meandering, snakelike loop out to the western suburbs, and ends south of downtown near Loop 610. […]

SB4’s day in court

Sparks were flying. Opponents of Texas’ state-based immigration law told a federal judge Monday that allowing the controversial measure to stand would pave the way for a nationwide police state where local officers could subvert the established immigration-enforcement powers of the federal government. But the state’s attorneys argued in tandem with their colleagues from the […]

Next round of voter ID briefs ordered

Moving right along: With the next election season looming, a federal judge has set a fast-paced schedule for determining whether Texas should be penalized for a voter ID law found to have been written by Republicans to intentionally discriminate against minority voters. Saying no additional hearings will be needed, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos gave […]

What about Fort Worth?

Now that Houston has voted to join the litigation against SB4, there remains one big city on the sidelines. Holding signs that said, “No hate in my Texas” and “Diversity not division,” protesters on Tuesday urged city leaders to join a lawsuit seeking to have Texas’ so-called sanctuary cities law declared unconstitutional. Members of the […]

No partisan gerrymandering claims (yet) in Texas

From Texas Redistricting: The three-judge panel in the Texas redistricting case has issued an order striking the expert report offered by the Texas Democratic Party in connection with its partisan gerrymandering claim. However, the court said that it would allow the TDP to make an offer of proof under Federal Rule of Evidence 103 so […]

Feds join the state in defense of SB4

I suppose this was to be expected. About a month ago, the city of El Cenizo filed a lawsuit against the state, calling the bill unconstitutional. On Monday, the Trump administration got involved. The defendants in the lawsuit are the state of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The fight started […]

One Republican judge doesn’t want that high-priced attorney for the bail lawsuit appeal

Credit where credit is due. One of 15 Harris County judges challenging a federal order altering how bail works for indigent defendants has dropped out of the group that hired a pricey D.C. law firm to appeal the lawsuit. Court at Law Judge Mike Fields, a Republican who has been on the bench since 1998, […]

Houston officially gets in the SB4 litigation business

Well done. Houston City Council voted Wednesday to sue the state over its new “sanctuary cities” law, joining Texas’ three other largest cities in challenging the controversial measure. Council voted 10-6 to join San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, El Paso County and several other local governments and nonprofits in a consolidated case challenging the state. Councilman […]

When might the Supreme Court speak on the Houston term limits lawsuit?

So as you know there is an ongoing lawsuit over the language used in the 2015 referendum that altered the city’s term limits ordinance. It was filed shortly after the election, with the city winning the first round in district court. Appeals are ongoing, with the most recent ruling coming this past January on a […]

Getting ready for the first SB4 hearing

All eyes are going to be on this next week. On Monday, June 26, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia will hear the City of San Antonio’s request for a preliminary injunction to block Senate Bill 4, the “sanctuary cities” law, from taking effect on Sept. 1. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) is representing […]

Public testimony on SB4

It was heated, as you might expect. Scores of residents urged City Council on Tuesday to challenge the state’s “sanctuary cities” ban, speaking during more than five hours of public testimony on the eve of council’s vote on whether to join litigation. Council chambers overflowed with residents waiting to testify on Senate Bill 4, which […]

SCOTUS takes on Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case

Monday’s big news. Partisan gerrymandering exists because the Supreme Court allows it to exist. Although such gerrymanders are a form a viewpoint discrimination, which violates the First Amendment, Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have been reluctant to even let federal courts consider partisan gerrymandering cases — much less strike down actual gerrymanders. That could all change, […]

Council may vote on joining SB4 litigation tomorrow

It will happen, though perhaps not tomorrow. Houston City Council is poised to vote [this] Wednesday on whether to join litigation challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ new “sanctuary cities” law, days before the case’s preliminary hearing in San Antonio. The city attorney’s office has recommended Houston sue over the law known as Senate Bill 4, […]

Paxton seeks to overturn all local bag ban laws

It’s up to the Supreme Court to decide whether he gets it or not. Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday filed paperwork urging the Texas Supreme Court to eliminate plastic bag bans across Texas, including Austin’s. Paxton is seeking for the court to affirm an earlier decision that overturned a bag ban in Laredo. However, […]

Fifth Circuit to hear AALDEF lawsuit appeal

This happens today. Amid last-minute efforts to overhaul the state’s voter identification law in light of an ongoing legal fight, the Texas Legislature gaveled out without addressing another embattled election law that’s now moving forward in federal court. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday will take up a legal challenge to an […]

Houston will get involved in the SB4 fight later this month

Very good to hear. Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask City Council to vote this month on joining lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ new “sanctuary cities” law, ending months of equivocation on the controversial immigration enforcement measure. If City Council votes to sue, Houston would join San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and several other local […]

SCOTUS will not hear Harris County bail appeal

Let this please be the end of the line. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has denied Harris County’s request to stop the release of misdemeanor inmates who can’t afford to post cash bail. The county had appealed late Tuesday to halt Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal’s directive that it begin releasing some […]

Dallas gets in the fight against SB4

Good for them. Dallas is joining some other Texas cities, including Austin and San Antonio, in taking on the state’s so-called “sanctuary city” law. Mayor Mike Rawlings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, calling SB4 “unconstitutional” and a law that “greatly infringes on the city’s ability to protect” the public. According to Rawlings, the city attorney […]

Voter ID plaintiffs ask court to void the law

As well they should. Lawyers for minority voters and politicians asked a federal judge Wednesday to void the Texas voter ID law, saying it is the next logical step for a statute found to be discriminatory. The lawyers also said they will ask U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos to require Texas officials to get […]

Bexar County joins in on SB4 litigation

Add another to the list. Bexar County has joined the fight against Senate Bill 4, the so-called “sanctuary cities” law. In their biweekly meeting Tuesday, three commissioners and Judge Nelson Wolff voted to join the City of San Antonio in its lawsuit against the State of Texas in an effort to stop the controversial SB […]

Matt Rinaldi’s words will be used against him

Good. On Monday, Representative Matt Rinaldi, called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after hundreds of mostly Latino activists filled the House gallery to protest Senate Bill 4, the controversial ‘sanctuary cities’ ban. Jose Garza, an attorney representing El Paso County in its suit against SB 4, told the Observer that the incident will “almost assuredly” be […]

Fifth Circuit reinstates bail order

Good. Harris County took the fight over its controversial bail system to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, even as county officials scrambled to plan the imminent release of dozens of misdemeanor defendants held behind bars who cannot afford to post cash bail. A federal appeals court ruling earlier Tuesday had greenlighted the release of […]

ACLU files for injunction against SB4

From the inbox: The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Texas filed the first motion today to block the anti-immigrant and anti-law enforcement Texas Senate Bill (SB4) before it takes effect. This is the next step in the organization’s effort to strike down SB4. The law, recently signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, strips […]

State files motion to combine all the “sanctuary cities” lawsuits

This isn’t a surprise, but there is a bit of a twist. In a filing late Thursday, Attorney General Ken Paxton asked a federal district court in Austin to absorb two other legal challenges that have been filed against the ban in San Antonio, which is seen as a friendlier venue toward opponents of the […]

Wisconsin case undermines even the scaled back bathroom bill

Special session or not, this could be a big deal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit likely just handed the Supreme Court a new case about a transgender student to consider. The Court’s opinion, issued Tuesday, eviscerates a Wisconsin school’s arguments for discriminating against one of its students. Ashton Whitaker (“Ash”), now […]

San Antonio files “sanctuary cities” lawsuit

Here they go. The cities of San Antonio and Austin announced on Thursday they have joined the fight to stop the state’s new immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 4, in federal court. […] The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the suit Thursday on behalf of San Antonio City Councilman Rey Saldaña and […]

Firefighters sue over pension reform law

I suppose this was inevitable. Houston’s firefighters pension fund has sued Mayor Sylvester Turner and numerous city officials over the pension reform plan Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Wednesday, putting up another potential hurdle in Houston’s efforts to solve a 16-year fiscal crisis. The Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund argues in the lawsuit […]

State appeals injunction of “fetal remains” rule

Here we go. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to overturn an Austin judge’s ruling that blocked the state from enforcing a rule requiring fetal tissue to be buried or cremated. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled in January that the regulation was vaguely worded, placing abortion clinics at risk […]

When might Houston file a lawsuit over SB4?

Unclear at this time. Responding to calls for Houston to take a tougher stance on immigration legislation, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday he still is reviewing a controversial state law passed this month that allows police to ask people their immigration status if detained. The advocacy group FIEL Houston urged Turner earlier in the day […]

ACLU joins first “sanctuary cities” lawsuit

From the inbox: The ACLU of Texas and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project have joined the lawsuit challenging Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4), which demands that local governments and their employees engage in federal immigration enforcement practices. The case, City of El Cenizo, Texas, et al. v. State of Texas, et al., was filed earlier […]

Paxton’s pastor sues Servergy case witnesses

My head is spinning. Attorney General Ken Paxton’s pastor has sued the lead witnesses against him in his upcoming criminal trials. Last week, Prestonwood Baptist Church Executive Pastor Mike Buster filed a lawsuit against Rep. Byron Cook and Florida businessman Joel Hochberg, the two men named on Paxton’s fraud indictments. Paxton attends Prestonwood’s main campus […]

No special session for redistricting

Buried in my Wednesday post about the SCOTUS ruling that declared North Carolina’s Congressional map to be an illegal gerrymander was a note that the court in the Texas redistricting case asked the state to consider a special session to redraw Texas’ map, taking that ruling into account. The DMN had a story about that: […]