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Still no Dems arrested yet

Finally, a story that points out the same thing I’ve been saying about those arrest warrants.

More than a week after Republicans in the Texas House voted to authorize arrests of their quorum-busting Democratic colleagues, no such roundup has come to fruition.

As of Wednesday, there were no known cases of absent Democrats being arrested, and the chamber was still shy of the 100 members it needs for a quorum to conduct official business. That is despite its Aug. 10 vote to proceed with the arrests, Speaker Dade Phelan’s signing of 52 warrants later that day and his announcement two days later that the House sergeant-at-arms had deputized state law enforcement to track down the missing Democrats.

So far, it appears that their bark is worse than their bite: Grand Prairie Rep. Chris Turner, the leader of the House Democratic Caucus, said Tuesday that “the only thing that [he’s] aware of is that the House sergeant-at-arms has paid a visit to some members’ homes.”

Phelan spokesperson Enrique Marquez said Wednesday that the House sergeant-at-arms and law enforcement had “already visited several major metropolitan areas” to try and locate absent members “and will continue to do so until quorum is reached.”

But it’s still unclear whether the situation will escalate to the point of actual civil arrests, which Rep. Jim Murphy of Houston, the chair of the House Republican Caucus, acknowledged during a caucus news conference on Monday at the Capitol.

“I don’t know that they’re gonna go to that level,” Murphy said. “At this point it’s more like a jury summons … a paper that’s delivered, and that’ll be another conversation down the line.”

Law enforcement, Murphy added, is “still out there talking to people, visiting homes and businesses, and then hopefully we get enough of them to come back. We don’t need all of them to come back, just more.”

[…]

One of the quorum-breakers, Rep. Vikki Goodwin of Austin, said a paper arrest warrant was left on her front porch last week. She said lawyers have told Democrats that if law enforcement tries to arrest them, they should not resist but should make clear they would not be willingly going to the House floor.

“I think it’s just an intimidation tactic, trying to get members to come back because there is this outstanding arrest warrant,” Goodwin said. “I think it doesn’t really show well if they physically detain us.”

A House sergeant visited the Houston home of another quorum-breaker, Rep. Jon Rosenthal, on Tuesday, according to his chief of staff, Odus Evbagharu.

Both Goodwin and Rosenthal have declined to share any details about their locations, other than that they are no longer in Washington, D.C. More than 50 Democrats fled to the nation’s capital at the start of the first special session last month, protesting the GOP’s priority elections bill.

Yeah, I don’t think anyone is afraid of a “jury summons”. It’s like I’ve been saying, what are the mechanics for actually getting a quorum-busting Dem to the House floor? It always struck me as wildly implausible that there would be handcuffs and a potentially hours-long ride in a police car to accomplish this, but in the absence of that how would it work? I’m just glad to see it be acknowledged as such.

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4 Comments

  1. Frederick says:

    I wouldn’t past the white God fearing Republicans to drag African American Senfronia Thompson up the Capitol steps and into the chamber.

    Its their look and style.

  2. Kibitzer Curiae says:

    ARREST WARRANTS FOR POLITICAL “CRIMES” – IT’S BAD ENOUGH

    So, arrest warrants are out for the arrest of leaders of his party en masse – not for crimes, but for political acts (or rather an omission, namely not being present in the House of Representatives) – and Mr. Kuff finds comfort in them not having yet been executed. – Strange.

    Also strange might appear the characterization of the impending arrests as civil. An arrest warrant is hardly like a witness subpoena or a citation-cum-petition in a civil lawsuit. In those situations, the constable or sheriff’s deputy just hands you the papers (service in person instead of, say, by certified mail, or papers affixed to the door pursuant to an order for substitute service). He or she gives you something – in hard-copy form — rather than taking something from you, that being your liberty.

    Procedures for arrests are well established. So why couldn’t they be used here just like they are used for persons charged with crimes and fugitives from justice? Unlike jail breakers, one wouldn’t expect the quorum-breakers here to put up any physical resistance.

    And the fitting of a pair of connected bracelets for opposition legislators on the run – or on the doorstep of their home — would make for good media footage, if that can be arranged for.

    Since no crimes are being charged here, and since the matter is “civil”, the best analogy may be a WRIT OF ATTACHMENT (CAPIAS in criminal case) ​to bring a person to court for a mandatory appearance, such as for contempt of court or for having violated a court-issued injunction.

    Except that the person taken into custody will here be delivered to a chamber of the Lege instead of a courtroom. And why would it be a problem to transport a fugitive from Houston to Austin?

    As for other civil arrest scenarios, jurors can forcibly be brought to court too when go AWOL. Even prospective jurors/venire members, in theory. Same for witnesses who ignore a subpoena properly served on them. See form here: See template here:

    https://www.hcdistrictclerk.com/common/forms/pdf/Subpoena%20for%20Witness.pdf

    With the following standard admonishment:

    “Rule 176.8(a) Contempt. Failure by any person without adequate excuse to obey a subpoena served upon that person may be deemed a contempt of the court from which the subpoena is issued or a district court in the county in which the subpoena is served, and may be punished by fine or confinement, or both.”

    DIFFERENT SORT’A ATTACHMENT

    “A judge in a civil case may issue a writ of attachment to a properly subpoenaed witness who fails to appear for trial if the requirements of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 176.8 are met whereas a “capias” is a writ issued in a criminal matter directing a peace officer to arrest a person accused of an offense and bring him before the court. Compare Tex. R. Civ. P. 176.8 with Tex. Code Crim. Pro. arts. 23.01—.18 (West 2009). Despite Dorsey’s use of the term “capias” during trial, we construe her complaint as a contention that the trial court erred by refusing to attach the witness. ” Dorsey v. Houston Housing Authority, No. 14-10-00165-CV (Tex.App.- [14th Dist.] 2011).

    MOR ON BODY-TAKING ORDERS

    For writ of attachment of witnesses in a criminal case, see Chapter 24 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

    An “attachment” is a writ issued by a clerk of a court under seal, or by any magistrate, or by the foreman of a grand jury, in any criminal action or proceeding authorized by law, commanding some peace officer to take the body of a witness and bring him before such court, magistrate or grand jury on a day named, or forthwith, to testify in behalf of the State or of the defendant, as the case may be. It shall be dated and signed officially by the officer issuing it. TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. art. 24.11:

    NO MINISTERIAL ARREST DUTY FOR POLITICIANS ?

    Finally, does an officer have any discretion to decide whether or not to execute an arrest warrant that he or she is handed for execution? At least as long as it’s not an obvious forgery and appears regular on its face?

    This Kibitzer is doubtful, but remains open to being instructed otherwise by folks more knowledgeable of the law as it pertains to service of process and law enforcement.

    Let’s keep in mind that the issuance of orders by one faction of lawmakers (through the speaker/majority leader) for the mass arrest of opposition lawmakers — i.e. their colleagues — is a rather extraordinary occurrence. And that it is unprecedented on this scale and under conditions where simultaneously a move is under way to establish the Governor as Commander in Chief for the state and all of its political subdivisions in peacetime.

    Perhaps some formal fault can be found with these legislative “civil arrest warrant”, and perhaps another habeas corpus can be filed quickly once arrests are made and the affected bodies are en route to Austin.

    The pending mandamus against the criminal court habeas corpus orders from Harris County in the SCOTX seems an oddity, including the underlying protection-from-arrest orders themselves, in light of the fact that the bodies in question are still either circulating or have gone “underground” in places unknown.

    But surely these “civil arrest warrants” are unlike a jury summons generated by a computer program connected to a high-volume printer and sent out in batches of hundreds, if not thousands, through the mail.

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    I am wearing my Peerless Superlite cuffs on my belt, and if I see one of them I will take them in for processing and prosecution. You gotta take your consequences if you want to equate yourself with MLK, who spent time in jail due to his beliefs. I just wish I had a set of hinge cuffs.

  4. Kibitzer Curiae says:

    NO RUSH WHEN THE BODIES OF DEMS ARE IN PERIL – THEY DON’T SUFFER SOVEREIGN INJURY

    Rep. Gene Wu has filed a motion the dismiss Paxton’s mandamus in the Texas Supreme Court (No. 21-0675), in which they hurried to impose an immediate stay of the protection-from-arrest orders siged by a Harris County criminal district court judge even though their jurisdiction is in doubt. See In re State, No. 21-0675 (Tex. Aug. 12, 2021)(“Relator’s emergency motion for temporary relief, filed August 12, 2021, is granted. The Order Discharging Gene Wu, dated August 11, 2021, in Cause No. 1735079, styled Ex Parte Gene Wu, in the 230th District Court of Harris County, Texas, is stayed pending further order of this Court.”)

    In their motion, Wu and the other Real Parties in Interest (including the ones since added) argue that Paxton cannot usurp the powers of the district attorney (Kim Ogg) and pray “that the Court dismiss the pending mandamus petition as an ultra vires act of the Attorney General or, alternatively, at least hold the petition in abeyance to first permit review by the Court of Criminal Appeals.”

    The supremes have asked for a response by August 30, 2021, with their stay order remaining in effect in the interim.

    Do you think 10 days is enough time to round them up?

    WHEN TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE

    When the Attorney General and the Governor come a-praying, relief is granted instanter.

    When the Dems seek relief, and point to the urgency of the matter, they can forget it.

    So here, if the Supremes later conclude that they don’t have jurisdiction (they probably won’t with reference to the arrest warrants at issue being just “civil”), or that the issues in the case have become moot, it won’t matter. Their stay order will have served its purpose in removing the legal obstacle to the arrests of the Dems (if they don’t turn themselves in and surrender to the Speaker in the meantime).

    Note that the Supremes issued an immediate stay of the trial court TRO at issue in Tex 21-0667 also, while ignoring the AG’s failure to first seek relief in the Court of Appeals. This is Abbott’s and the Speaker’s mandamus case in which their judicial brethren and sistren blessed the arrest of the Lege-Dems’ as constitutionally authorized in an opinion by Justice Blacklock released yesterday. Issued without a dissent. See In re Abbott, No. 21-0667 (Tex. Aug. 17, 2021)(orig. proc.) (“The district court very clearly abused its discretion by issuing the TRO.”).

    Procedural rules apparently don’t matter when the interests of the GOP-controlled State are to be vindicated by the all-GOP supreme court as a matter of course. The inherent interests of the State as the Sovereign must always trump those of actual living and breathing Texans.

    Ditto for the triplicate-mandamus against Travis County District Judge Jan Soifer concerning the mask mandates of various governmental units, docketed as Tex. 21-0701. In that case, the AG skipped the intermediate appellate level likewise, and didn’t even address a key legal issue raised on behalf of the school districts in the omnibus petition:

    That the school districts don’t rely on the Disaster Act as statutory authority to require masks during the current epidemic, but on the Education Code and the Texas Constitution. Paxton’s litigators nevertheless asked for that TRO to be stayed on an emergency basis along with the others.

    We might get some sort of temporary order in Tex. 21-0701 shortly (One attorney yesterday begged for a little extra time). The best-case scenario might be that at least the school districts will remain free for now to keep their masking orders, but who knows …

    HERE IS THE WE’LL-DEAL-WITH-THIS-LATER NOTICE
    FOR THE LEGE-DEMS ARREST MATTER VERBATIM:

    RE: Case Number: 21-0675

    Court of Appeals Number:
    Trial Court Number: 1735079
    Style: IN RE STATE OF TEXAS

    Dear Counsel:

    The Supreme Court of Texas requests that relator file a response to Real Party in Interest’s Motion to Dismiss in the above-referenced case. The response is due in this office on August 30, 2021.

    PLEASE NOTE that TEX. R. APP. P. 9.2(b) all documents (except documents submitted under seal) must be e-filed through eFileTexas.gov. You may file up to midnight on the due date.

    Sincerely,
    Blake A. Hawthorne, Clerk
    by Claudia Jenks, Chief Deputy Clerk

    —-
    You can follow this case here:
    https://search.txcourts.gov/Case.aspx?cn=21-0675&coa=cossup (This time an IN RE STATE, rather than an IN RE ABBOTT)

    PS: Rule enforcement: The Supremes just struck a Letter on behalf of Gene Wu, et al. because it contained an appendix that wasn’t text-searchable.