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Federal lawsuit against HISD and Trustee Larry Marshall dismissed

Good, I guess.

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a three-year-old bribery lawsuit against the Houston school district and trustee Larry Marshall, ending the prospect of a high-profile jury trial.

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison ruled in part that the construction contractor that sued lacked standing because the company did not prove it suffered financially. The Gil Ramirez Group alleged in its lawsuit that it lost its contract with the state’s largest school district because it didn’t pay bribes to Marshall.

Ellison, in his order, did not determine whether Marshall received improper payments but found that the Ramirez Group fell short of several legal standards needed to prove its case.

“Indeed,” Ellison wrote, “from what evidence plaintiffs do provide… the most that can be said is that Marshall, if he did participate in a bribery scheme, did so to enrich himself, not as a way to discriminate against non-paying contractors.”

According to court records and deposition testimony, some school district vendors paid thousands of dollars to a business associate of Marshall, who gave him a cut of her earnings. Marshall did not deny a business relationship with Joyce Moss-Clay but said it did not influence which firms won district contracts.

See here, here, and here for some background. I’m glad that HISD, which spent $1.5 million defending itself against this suit (they may seek reimbursement from the plaintiffs), is not in any further financial danger from it. I’m also glad that Larry Marshall will become Former Trustee Larry Marshall as of January 2. And finally, I’m glad the HISD Board of Trustees voted to beef up its ethics policies. I hope this sort of thing never happens again. Hair Balls has more.

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