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May 3rd, 2023:

Countersuit in the “wrongful death” abortion saga


A man who is suing his ex-wife’s friends for allegedly helping her get an abortion may have known about her plans and done nothing to stop her, according to a new legal filing.

Marcus Silva brought a wrongful-death lawsuit in March in Galveston County, claiming three women helped his now-ex-wife obtain abortion-inducing medication and “conceal the pregnancy and murder from Marcus, the father of the unborn child.”

The lawsuit is the first of its kind since the overturn of Roe v. Wade last summer. Silva is seeking a million dollars in damages from each plaintiff.

But now, Jackie Noyola and Amy Carpenter, two of the women accused of facilitating the abortion, are countersuing Silva, claiming that he found the medication and text messages laying out their plans before his ex-wife underwent the abortion.

“Rather than talking with [his ex-wife] about what he found or disposing of the pill, Silva took photos of the texts and surreptitiously put the pill back,” the lawsuit reads. “He wasn’t interested in stopping her from terminating a possible pregnancy. Instead, he wanted to obtain evidence he could use against her if she refused to stay under his control, which is precisely what he tried to do.”

The countersuit contains a screenshot of a police report Silva allegedly made to the League City Police Department on July 17, claiming he found a pill labeled MF in his ex-wife’s purse almost a week prior. He identified the pill as mifepristone, a common abortion-inducing medication.

It’s not clear what became of the police report, but the legal filings seem to agree Silva’s ex-wife took the medication, intending to terminate her pregnancy. Silva confronted her two weeks later, the lawsuit says, and told her he knew about the abortion.

He threatened to use the screenshots and evidence he had gathered to have her sent to jail if she didn’t “give him my ‘mind body and soul’ until the end of the divorce, which he’s going to drag out,” she wrote in text messages to Noyola and Carpenter. She said Silva was asking her to sell the house, give him primary custody of the children and “basically [play] wife.”

Texas law does not allow criminal or civil charges to be brought against the pregnant patient who undergoes the abortion; Silva’s ex-wife is not a party to the lawsuit.

Noyola and Carpenter are countersuing Silva for violating their right to privacy and the Texas Harmful Access by Computer Act, which makes it a crime to access a computer without the consent of the owner. They note that if there is a violation of the state’s abortion laws, Silva is as responsible as anyone, since he knew about the medication and did nothing to stop it.

“The hypocrisy of Silva seeking more than a million dollars in damages is as shocking as it is shameful,” the filing says. “It is a craven misuse and abuse of the judicial system to facilitate his ongoing harassment and abuse of his ex-wife.”


If this case proceeds, the countersuit filing raises several potentially important legal arguments about how and when Texas’ intersecting abortion laws can be enforced. One argument centers on the laws’ exemption from legal liability for the pregnant patient.

“It is not illegal or wrongful for a woman to terminate her own pregnancy,” the suit says. And thus, the lawyers argue “it is not illegal or wrongful to help a friend do something she is legally permitted to do … Nor should it be.”

See here for the background and here for a copy of the countersuit, helpfully annotated on Twitter by Mark Joseph Stern. I have no idea what the legal terrain of this one will be, but I feel reasonably confident saying that it will ultimately be about more than just whether Marcus Silva snooped on his ex-wife’s computer. I’ll wait to hear from legal experts about what all that might mean. The Chron, which notes that the two women are represented by Rusty Hardin, and the Texas Signal have more.

A “who not to vote for” guide in Katy ISD

For your information.

The Katy ISD school board race has taken a sharp political turn as some candidates vying for the nonpartisan position accepted Republican party endorsements and appeared on flyers that attacked their opponents as “far left” supporters of “radical ideologies.”

The position of school board of trustees is non-partisan in Texas, but three candidates have accepted endorsements from the Harris County GOP and never publicly objected when mailers were sent likening their opponents to Democrat politicians President Joe Biden and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Amy Theime, Morgan Calhoun and Mary Ellen Cuzela, candidates for Positions 3, 4 and 5 respectively accepted endorsement from the Harris County GOP. The organization on April 21 sent out a mass text message urging voters to “fight back against the radical left’s woke agenda that’s seeping into our schools.

It’s the latest escalation in a new partisan tone sweeping school board races across the country, which have become the latest battleground as coordinated blocs of candidates from both sides fight for control of local schools. The two sides have clashed over COVID precautions and what conservative say is a concern about “Critical Race Theory,” an academic concept taught in some colleges that asserts that racism is embedded in the nation’s criminal justice system.

In the last week, Katy residents have been inundated with mailers accusing the candidates’ opponents, Bruce Bradford, Cicely Taylor and Shana Peterson of being radical liberal ideologists. In the May 6 election, nine candidates are vying for three Katy ISD school board seats.

As the flyers hit mailboxes, Peterson said that she’s actually a conservative, but that she refuses to bring her personal politics into the school board.

“I’ve voted Republican in every election, but this isn’t about me,” Peterson said. “Politics have no place in school boards.”

The flyers were paid for by Texans for Educational Freedom. While the organization didn’t respond to requests for comments, according to its website, the group exists to “keep liberal politics out of the classroom.”


Dax Gonzalez, director of government relations for the Texas Association of School Boards, said school boards are supposed to be apolitical because they’re intended to serve all students from all backgrounds. TASB is a nonprofit educational association that serves and represents Texas school boards and supports local public schools.

“The reason that school boards are nonpartisan is because education is a nonpartisan issue,” Gonzalez said. “When (board members) get into that boardroom, they set aside the things that make them different, and they work towards educating all kids to make sure that they all have successful outcomes.”

I just had a post about local and school board candidates in the May elections that have been endorsed by the Texas Democratic Party, so I’m not going to criticize the Harris County GOP for endorsing candidates in these races. I am going to criticize them for endorsing a bunch of book-banning wackos, who have no business being anywhere near a school, let alone a position on a school board. The Book-Loving Texan’s Guide to the May 2023 School Board Elections, which I blogged about here, has a guide to the Katy ISD elections, and it has plenty to say about these three candidates, as well as the shameful recent history of hysteria and moral panic in that district.

If you live in Katy or know someone who does, please make sure you or they don’t vote for Theime, Calhoun, or Cuzela. The BLTG highlights Cicely Taylor (one of two candidates running against Calhoun) and Shana Peterson (opposing Cuzela) as the best options. There are two other candidates in the third race, against Thieme, and the BLTG doesn’t offer an opinion on either of them, so make your own decision. Whatever the case, Thieme is clearly the worst of the three. Please go and vote accordingly.

(For the record, the TDP did not endorse any of the candidates in the Katy ISD races.)

How the May election is being run in Harris County

Of interest.

Fresh off last November’s midterm elections, Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum has implemented operational upgrades to the county’s system and vote collection process for presiding judges working at polling locations.

These changes have been in full swing as early voting for the May 6 election – which covers races for school board trustees, public infrastructure bond proposals and smaller county municipal leaders and mayors – started this Monday, April 24 and will end on Tuesday, May 2.

Tatum’s moved to alter the county’s procedures after some Republican candidates made claims of voter suppression that they said were due to paper ballot shortages at least 20 of the total 782 polling locations.

To avoid similar issues from reoccurring, the county has digitized its inventory system, moved from its old phone system to the software tracking system, ServiceNow, and designated several of its early voting polling locations as supply centers – locations where ballot paper or other election items that are needed can be picked up, according to Nadia Hakim, deputy director of communications for Harris County election administrator’s office.

Additionally, the county has designated six rally centers where presiding judges will go after they have completed their closing procedures; instead of having to drive all the way to a central downtown location as they did with NRG Arena in the last election.

Each judge will be assigned to one of the six locations; this is meant to make the unofficial results available to the public sooner, Hakim said.

Brandon Rottinghaus, University of Houston political science professor said that this election can be used as a trial run as it features local races on the ballot making it a smaller scale, lower stakes election.

“It is helpful for municipalities to start off with an election like this after they’ve made changes so it can give them a sense of where there might be some flaws and gives them an opportunity to fix them before they’ve got a groundswell of additional voters,” Rottinghaus said.


Dr. Benjamin Bannon, Manager of Training for Harris County Elections Administration, who prepares the presiding judges’ working polling locations, has been in close contact with the county to ensure that the changes implemented are processed and understood by the judges.

“We are given updates and information and what we do is make sure the training that we are delivering is accurate and communicated to everyone,” Bannon said.

He conducts four-hour long classes making sure the judges carry out procedures correctly, and also trains them to handle and interact with voters at the polls.

“We model training as to how we would like to operate at a voting center with accuracy and precision,” Bannon said. “We tell the judges that they are going to be met with individuals who know what they are doing and those who may need a few questions answered.”

Although these judges will not be traveling to a central location this time around, no other changes to how they are supposed to operate were made. The county usually updates their training curriculum ahead of every midterm election.

For small-scale elections like this one, Bannon trains around 2,000 judges, compared to larger ones, where he will train around 6,000.

I mostly note this because of the news that the Elections Office has implemented a trouble-tracking system, which had been notably absent before now and was a reason cited in the office’s post-election assessment as to why the facts were not fully established regarding the paper shortages. Both that story and this one from last November note that other large counties had implemented such systems years ago; the latter story says Dallas has had such a system in place since 2012. I note this because, of course, Stan Stanart was still running elections in Harris County in 2012. Indeed, he had another six years of running them before finally being voted out. So when certain people complain about how elections have been run in Harris County, it’s worth noting that elections were run in Harris County before 2020 as well. Maybe it’s taking awhile for the Elections office to get things all cleaned up, but there was a much longer period before that, which is what necessitated the cleanup in the first place.

UPDATE: I drafted this over the weekend, before the Senate passed bills to force Harris County to return election administration to the County Clerk and Tax Assessor and allow the SOS to order a new election in Harris County if more than two percent of voting locations run out of paper. (Which will get sued if it passes.) The weird and probably unhealthy thing is that I actually expected worse. Going back to the old two-office election management process is inefficient and just dumb, but we have a good County Clerk who used to run the elections herself, so it’ll be fine. And if there’s one thing I feel confident we’ll fix after the 2022 saga, it’s never underestimating the amount of paper ballots needed again. If this is all they do, all I can say is it could have been worse. Again, a screwed up way of thinking about it, but this is the kind of trauma that the Lege is inflicting these days.