Dallas City Hall and Trinity East Have Teamed Up to Keep Their Fracking Fight in the Dark

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Jay Barker
Back in February of 2013, Schutze shook loose a secret memo showing that City Manager Mary Suhm had struck a secret deal with Trinity East Energy to allow gas drilling on city parkland while, at the same time, promising the City Council that there would be no gas drilling on city parkland. The memo offered a rare glimpse behind the curtain at City Hall, a place where an unelected bureaucrat can and often does flout the will of the people.

One can almost imagine Suhm and Trinity East execs huddled in a dimly lit back room somewhere, a dense cloud of cigar smoke hanging about their heads, their knowing chuckle building to sinister peals of laughter as they imagine playgrounds being replaced by drilling rigs.

Plant that image in your mind, because that could be as close as Dallas gets to actually discovering what transpired between city officials and Trinity East.

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Federal Judge Sanctions Dallas in Protest Lawsuit

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Occupy Dallas
The Dallas City Council's decision last week to repeal its anti-protest ordinance -- the one that has irked both the far left and far right, from the peaceniks railing against the Bush Presidential Library to the Obama-hating patriots -- was a tacit admission that banning people from protesting next to highways is probably unconstitutional, no matter how many times Dallas Police Chief David Brown says it's dangerous.

That realization came too late to save the city from a pair of free speech lawsuits (neither of which, for the record, is going away), and it came too late to save the city from legal sanctions brought on by its apparent legal strategy of mindless obstructionism.

We mentioned here before that the federal judge handling the lawsuit filed by the Bush Library protesters wasn't very happy with the city's knee-jerk refusal to answer rudimentary questions about how the anti-protest ordinance was drafted. Last Wednesday, the same day the City Council repealed the ordinance, a different judge, U.S. Magistrate David Horan, slapped the city with sanctions for its obstructionism.

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DART Driver Accused of Sexually Assaulting Special Needs Passenger Denies Allegations

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Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Tuesday morning, a lawsuit was filed in federal court by an anonymous plaintiff asserting that her daughter, who has Down syndrome, was raped twice by a DART paratransit driver in September 2013.

According to the plaintiff, driver Cedrick Agentdropped off his other passengers on the bus before pulling over and assaulting her daughter twice in one week.

Agent says nothing happened.

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After Banning Fracking, Denton Braces for Backlash from Drillers, a Bush and its Own Lawyer

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Rich Anderson
Denton residents passed a fracking ban, but now it's up to to city leaders to defend it against the powerful oil and gas industry.
Last week, Denton became the first city in the state to pass a citywide ban on fracking. Voters approved the ban in a landslide, with 59 percent in favor of the ban and 41 percent against, after more than five years of struggle between anti-fracking activists and the energy industry.

See also: Denton Fracking Ban Passes, But for How Long?

Now comes the backlash. The General Land Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association are the first, so far, to file suits against the city. Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick is also hinting at legal action, and has announced her agency will continue to grant drilling permits to companies in Denton.

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Frisco Homeowners Association Can't Kick Out Homeless Teens, Judge Rules

Categories: Legal Battles

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Courtesy of City House
You want to live in Frisco's Plantation Resort 2 neighborhood, you better keep your property looking good and fancy. Because Plantation Resort 2 isn't going to put up with your shit. Here are Plantation Resort 2's hardcore summer lawn-watering instructions:

Although we are currently under water restrictions we cannot allow our turf and landscape to die off or become bare dirt. There are many alternatives and it is your responsibility as an owner to be sure that you maintain your property at all times. A solution to a bare lawn may be to add a landscape bed or a mulch bed under the trees when the grass will not fill in. But please remember bare dirt is not acceptable and does not help maintain property values.

Strict rules apply to any homeowners not using their houses for family-related purposes, as a Collin County nonprofit learned this year when they started sheltering homeless teens in Plantation Resort 2.


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B.S. Meter: Voter ID Law Upheld Because It's Too Close to the November Election

Categories: Legal Battles

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Kjetil Ree
For now, you still have to bring your ID to go vote. If you have one, of course.

On Saturday, the Supreme Court decided to let Texas enforce its strict two-year-old voter ID law, which a district court judge struck down as grossly discriminatory this month, but that ruling was temporarily put on hold by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Got that? No?

Then let us 'splain: You have to bring what the law calls proper identification -- assuming you have some -- to cast your vote this election because otherwise the Supreme Court says you might be confused and just show up to vote the way Texans have always done. You see, apparently it's better to let a new discriminatory law possibly disenfranchise a large number of voters -- 600,000 by one count -- than lay the heavy burden on voters who mistakenly bring identification to the polls when they needn't have bothered.

Whew! Thank you, Supreme Court, for clearing that up.

Of course, the Supreme Court didn't actually say this, since it didn't give a reason for its decision, but the general consensus seems to be that justices figured it would be confusing to make a major overhaul to the law so close to the election. And if you aren't buying that, you're not alone.

See also: Dallasites without Votes IDs Are Generally Poor, Non-White, and -- Surprise! -- Democrats

"The thinking was that issuing a decision this close to the election would disrupt the status quo in a way that would be a detriment to the state," says Lynne Rambo, a professor of constitutional law at Texas A&M law school. "It's not a theory I buy."

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Local Attorneys Gearing Up For Ebola Lawsuits

Categories: Legal Battles

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Emily Mathis
Local attorneys are preparing for legal action for hospital employees and Thomas Eric Duncan's family members.

The rhetoric from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurses in the last several days has been vehement. Nurses are anonymously alleging that the hospital did not take proper steps to prevent contamination and infection, which ultimately led to nurses Amber Vinson and Nina Pham contracting Ebola from patient Thomas Eric Duncan. "In the end, the nurses strongly feel unsupported, unprepared, deserted and lied to in preparing for this," said National Nurses United spokesperson Deborah Burger in a press conference on Wednesday.

See also: Presbyterian's Nurses Are Pushing Back on the CDC and Hospital Over Handling of Ebola

And Texas Health Resources is scrambling to counteract the claims. "National Nurses United recently made allegations regarding the protocols and equipment in place during Thomas Eric Duncan's treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. The assertions do not reflect actual facts learned from the medical record and interactions with clinical caregivers," said spokesperson Candace White in an e-mail statement. "Our hospital followed the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and sought additional guidance and clarity."

Still, chances are good that when the outbreak has subsided, Presbyterian's owner, Texas Health Resources, along with the CDC and any other group involved in treating the virus will be facing several lawsuits. Charla Aldous, a lead attorney with Aldous Law Firm in Dallas, said she could not give any details, but confirmed that someone involved in the Ebola outbreak has reached out to her about a possible suit. "I have been contacted, but cannot disclose the names," she says. "I have not yet been formally retained."

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Let's Try to Make Some Sense of the Jerry Jones Lawsuit Dismissal

Categories: Legal Battles

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Frank Hoover via Twitter
Let's not worry about why. Let's just be grateful we may never have to see this damn photo again.
The statement lawyer Thomas Bowers issued Thursday morning after the dismissal of his client Jana Weckerly's sexual assault lawsuit against Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was precise: "Neither Jerry Jones nor the Cowboys organization has paid us any money."

If you're the suspicious sort, you might be wondering if that means NO ONE paid her ANYTHING. A signed jersey from Tony Romo, perhaps? A lifetime of free pizza from Papa John's, maybe? Something.

But let's assume for a second that Weckerly, in fact, did not receive any money when she agreed to the dismissal, which she and Bowers will not appeal. What would make the former stripper, seemingly out of the blue, drop a million-dollar lawsuit?

Chad Ruback, a prominent Dallas appellate attorney, has an educated guess.

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Jerry Jones Sex Assault Suit Is Over, But It Isn't Exactly Clear Why

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Frank Hoover via Twitter
Jerry Jones is no longer headed to trial over accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2009. The case, brought by former stripper Jana Weckerly, also claimed that Jones and his longtime lawyer, Levi McCathern, conspired to pay her off until the statute of limitations expired.

A hearing was scheduled for Thursday afternoon to determine whether or not Weckerley's claims could move forward despite the fact that more than five years had passed since the incident with Jones. She argued that her claim should still be heard because of Jones frequent travel outside Texas, and that the payments she claimed to have received from Jones, by way of McCathern, fell within the statute.

Thursday morning, after a court-mandated mediation session Wednesday, the case was dismissed.

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Supreme Court Taps Brakes on HB2, 13 Abortion Clinics Reopen for Now

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Stephen Young
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Supreme Court cleared the way for reopening 13 abortion-providing health clinics that shuttered following an October 2 ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed Texas to begin enforcing the most draconian portions of House Bill 2, the state's 2013 anti-abortion measure. While being hailed as good news by pro-choice advocacy groups, the court order is likely only a temporary road block for Texas anti-choice supporters.

See also: The 5th Circuit Gave Every Woman in Texas the Middle Finger Thursday Night

The October 2 5th Circuit ruling allowed the state to enforce HB2 as the state appealed a lower court decision overturning the law. The circuit has not heard oral arguments yet in the appeal, but its granting of the stay means it, or at least the three-judge panel that issued the stay, believes that Texas will prevail in its appeal.

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