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HERO petition repeal trial starts

It could actually be over before it really starts, though I would not expect that.


For the next three to four weeks, the Harris County Civil Courthouse will be the stage for the trial over Houston’s controversial equal rights ordinance.

If everything works out according to plan, opening statements will begin next Tuesday.

That is, unless Judge Robert Schaffer comes back with a summary judgment ruling that would end the trial before it has started.

That’s what attorneys for the city hope for. One of them is Geoffrey Harrison with the firm Susman Godfrey LLP.

“I think that the clear legal entitlement is that the plaintiffs’ petition failed, that the plaintiffs and their coalition members did not comply with the election code and the City Charter, and so summary judgment throwing out their case is appropriate,” Harrison said.


During Tuesday’s four-hour hearing, the different sides also discussed the number of potential jurors, among other procedural matters.

Jury selection is set to start on Monday, Jan. 26.

See here for the background. I will be surprised if the city’s motion to dismiss is accepted, mostly because I think you have to give a fair amount of latitude in litigation like this. Which is not to say that the plaintiffs should be given free reign to spew whatever baloney and half-baked conspiracy theories they may have up their sleeves, but I think the bar to clear to proceed is pretty low. That said, I sure as heck don’t envy the people that may get selected for this circus. It’s going to be a long trudge for them.

For whatever the reason, that story and this KPRC story are the only coverage I could find of this. I guess the inauguration and the State of the Union were just too much competition for it. I did find this HuffPo story in which the plaintiffs claim that they did not submit a bunch of forged signatures.

“From what we can tell, they had to engage in a lot of fraud to collect these signatures,” said Kris Banks, an LGBT activist and lawyer who helped organize an independent citizen review of the petitions and the signatures. “I just don’t think they have the support.”

Attorney Andy Taylor, who filed the lawsuit in Harris County court, did not respond to request for comment.

Welch didn’t dispute that some of the signatures didn’t meet the city’s standard, but insisted to HuffPost that his group had gathered enough legitimate signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

That would be Dave Welch, who is also busy plying his trade in Plano. According to the DMN, those petition signatures should be verified one way or the other by the end of the month, and the item could be on Plano City Council’s agenda by February 9. Stay tuned.

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