Now That September Trial Date Has Been Set in Wet-Dry Case, What About Existing Permits?

Categories: City Hall
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On the other side is a brief filed on Friday by the attorneys trying to overturn the November referendum that allows the citywide sale of beer and wine. In it, attorneys Leland de la Garza and Andy Siegel argue that the vote to "wet up" Dallas was invalid because it included Preston Hollow, which had gone dry in 1940 -- five years before it was annexed by the city of Dallas. But as Steve Thompson notes on the City Hall Blog, Judge Laurine Blake of Bonham, who's presiding over the anti side's fight against the city, tossed that part of their argument this morning.

Blake -- who, a few weeks back, also denied the attorneys' request to halt TABC permitting till the case goes to trial -- whittled down the case to a single argument this morning: Did Keep the Dollars in Dallas gather enough valid petition signatures to trigger the referendum? Or, as the anti attorneys might phrase it: Did City Secretary Deborah Watkins tell the council to call the election without first making sure all the petitions were valid?

"That's closer to the way I would say it," de la Garza tells Unfair Park this afternoon.

The trial dates has been set for September 12, with depositions set to begin within two weeks, says de la Garza.

"There are really two issues here," he says. "Did the city secretary comply with her statutory duty to certify the number of qualified voters signing the petition, and did the council comply with its statutory duty to only call a local option election if there was a sufficient number of signatures of qualified voters? While we would rather the court have not removed form the lawsuit the claims related to historically dry areas, that's her ruling, and we reserve the right to appeal that ruling at the end of the case."

Update at 5:41 p.m.: The lengthy response from the City Attorney's Office just arrived. It too is on the other side.

I asked Carolyn Beck, spokesperson for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission: If, at the trial, it's determined the election was improperly called, does this void the permits that have been issued to that point? She says no -- because at the time retailers were given their permits, which are good for two years, they were deemed to have been issued lawfully. But they would not be renewed upon their expiration.

"And our position would be: If the election is void, the permits are void," de le Garza says. "The TABC would have to take action to cancel those permits, and if they don't take that view it would be difficult for us to cancel those, other than filing an objection requesting cancellation, which is a possibility."

The City Attorney's Office says it will have a statement shortly. I'll post here as an update when it's made available.

Below is the statement from the City Attorney's Office, which arrived at 5:41 p.m.:
City Attorney's press statement on local option lawsuit

Two individuals brought a lawsuit to undo the results of last November's local option election. These individuals sought to prevent the results of the election from ever taking effect. In two hearings held during the past two weeks, the City has prevailed on several important challenges to the local option election.

First, the Court refused to grant an order enjoining or delaying implementation of the local option results. The Court rejected the plaintiffs' attempt to prevent any permits being issued during the pendency of the lawsuit. Second, the Court rejected the plaintiffs' argument that the local option election had to be held only in former justice precincts. Third, the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims that a controlling statute was unconstitutional. Finally, today the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims that a local option election had to be held only in the former Town of Preston Hollow.

The City followed the state law that authorizes a city-wide local option election. The only issue remaining in the case is whether the petition requesting an election was signed by a sufficient number of qualified voters. The City welcomes the opportunity to defend at trial the overwhelming decision of the City of Dallas voters.
Brief in Support of Jurisdiction
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15 comments
cp
cp

I get a little jumpy when I read anything that resembles good advice from the City Attorney's office... they have been so wrong on so many other occasions, I can see where they need to behave a little less arrogant, lest they (and us, the voters) get blindsided by some legal technicality that Dallas' best law firm missed.

Guest
Guest

Why should the government protect some liquor stores from competition anyway?

Siegel and de la Garza (and the people they take their marching orders from) not only hate democracy, but they hate capitalism, too.

LarryC
LarryC

If the petitions were defective, then the election if defective. If the election is defective then any licenses/permits issued resulting from it should be defective too. The SENSIBLE thing would have been for the Judge to halt the issuance of permits until the suit was resolved. Hell, if they've waited since 1940 to become wet, they could wait another 10 months. "The will of the people" isn't the issue here - it's the rule of law. The people can CHANGE the law, but they can't ignore it - even collectively. We aren't ruled by a mob, but by the laws we make.

Guest
Guest

So now that the technicality argument has been thrown out, it all comes down to Andy Siegel and Leland de la Garza attempting to disenfranchise the voters of Dallas and overturn democracy.

Ellum08
Ellum08

What a complete and total waste of time.

I could hope this bleeds the ass-hats behind this whole farce dry, but I don't think that will happen.

Clancey
Clancey

The Court had an opportunity to 'preserve the status quo' with Restraing Orders and Temporary Injunctions. That's what they're intended to do.

The fact that the Judge didn't is a good indication of how she's going to come down.

As far as asking the TABC to rescind the licenses, that'll provoke other lawsuits, each licensee suing.

The Judge may be 'slow-playing' the case till it's impossible to put the cork back in the bottle.

scottindallas
scottindallas

strikes me that the very fact that the vote was so strongly in favor of the proposal is evidence that the petition signatures were in deed valid. If Andy Siegel is advising this I'd be seeking new legal advice. It seems hard to grasp what they are gaining from this since there is no injunction on issuing permits. The judge seems willing to let them burn through their money, it's hard to imagine a judge overturning such a decisive election.

Erich S
Erich S

Well, it sounds like Siegel and his two plaintiffs are a "mob." They are attempting to obstruct a lawfully called election with technicality after technicality. The vote to rescind the archaic dry laws was an overwhelming mandate. One could argue about the tyranny of the majority and the fact that probably only 15% of registered voters actually voted on this thing -- but hey, that's not my problem. The people of Dallas have spoken and I see the businesses opening up their aisles to beer and wine sales as having a stronger case against Siegel et al for disruption of business than the other way around if the permits are declared invalid. Hey, it's Dallas -- anything is possible.

Guest
Guest

Actually, the sensible thing to do would've been to throw the whole lawsuit out a long time ago.

There's no evidence to suggest that there weren't enough valid signatures on the petitions. It's just grasping at straws to protect some businesses from good ol' American competition.

Mike
Mike

Not going to defend those dirt bags, but remember it's Goody Goody, Centennial/Big Daddy's and Sigels paying them.

Remember them when it's time to buy and go elsewhere as I do.

cp
cp

What would be the interest of that from a judge in Bonham?

Hawke
Hawke

Scott, please. If people would just stop beating around the bush, I'd be happier. Why not call a spade a spade? Just like what happens in D.C.with lobbyists, we aren't allowed to address this issue as a case of bribery. For those responsible for this delaying tactic, they should be held financially responsible for the application costs of all seeking first time permits, as well as a portion of the profits denied as calculated as a percentage of profits from the first year of legal operation after this issue is properly resolved. And if justice prevails, it will be. But retailers should NOT be uncompensated for their losses, and customers should not be forced to unknowingly patronize establishments that stand to gain from this delay. A class action counter suit should be considered.

Guest
Guest

The whores are just as culpable as the johns.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

I don't buy a lot of liquor as it is, so I've taken to making my liquor purchases when I visit Houston. They have this nice little chain down there called Spec's which I wish would expand up into this part of the world.

rubbercow
rubbercow

Spec's would make me very happy. Used to live near the big one downtown and sorely miss it up here. I even made a drunken web-plea on their website 3 years ago - nothin'.....

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