Dallas is Taking Muni Judge Phyllis Brown's Case to the Texas Supreme Court

Phyllis Lister Brown
Last November Phyllis Lister Brown, who at the time was a city of Dallas municipal judge of 17 years, filed a lawsuit against the city. It was a preemptive strike. Brown was preparing a run for a seat on the 162nd Civil District Court and expected the city require her to resign in order to do so, which is exactly what happened.

Brown and the city have been battling it out in court filings ever since. The city, citing a provision of its charter, argues that Brown isn't allowed to keep her seat. Brown has contended that the provision doesn't apply to municipal judges, who fall under state, not city, oversight. (The charter reads: "[I]f a member of any board appointed by the council or any appointive officer of the city becomes a candidate for nomination or election to any public office, he or she shall immediately forfeit his or her place or position with the city."

The case may eventually get a hearing on its merits, but that hasn't happened yet. The city appealed District Judge Martin Lowy's ruling that Dallas isn't immune to Brown's lawsuit simply by virtue of being a city. The appeal failed, as did the city's request for a rehearing of the appeal before the Fifth Judicial District Court of Appeals in Dallas.

So time to get on with a trial, right? Not quite. Last week, the city asked city asked the state Supreme Court to review the appeals court's decision, as first reported by Courthouse News.

The city asserts in the filing that, yes, it is too immune from Brown's suit and that failure to recognize that would yield a veritable flood (or "multiplicity," to use the city's verbiage) of similar lawsuits challenging its ability to appoint and remove personnel.

Brown's attorney disagrees.

"We're disappointed that the city and City Council continue to delay the trial of this case by repeating arguments already rejected by the district court and Dallas Court of Appeals," Ray Guy, Brown's attorney, said Wednesday. "The request for review by the Supreme Court is entirely without merit."

The city's filing does not guarantee a hearing before the Supreme Court, which can decide not to take the case. Guy said he plans to file a response with the court. Meanwhile, having cruised through the primary, Brown seems poised to win the 162nd Civil District seat come November.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

talkin' bout having your cake, and eating it too.


It's good to know that our judges are at least savvy enough to game the system, I guess.

RTGolden1 topcommenter

It's very plain in the State's code referencing municipal judges.  It gives cities the power to appoint and terminate appointments to a municipal bench.  City should stop wasting time and money and take it to trial.


This is the kind of legal work that only happens with other people's money.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Thanks you very much Judge and the City of Dallas for wasting our money on a trivial matter which is really not much different from what as some one once said:  "It depends upon what the meaning of is, is."

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault