Skip to main content

State Attorneys Get a Scolding From an Appeals Court

Also, a new poll commissioned by the Texas Bipartisan Justice Committee suggests that Donald Trump has momentum building in Texas.

Lead image for this article

A federal appeals court has scolded Texas for sloppy paperwork in a long-running squabble over attorneys' fees stemming from the larger battle over the state’s redistricting map. And it will cost the state more than $1 million.

The U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered Texas to pay the fees of the lawyers who are challenging the Republican-led Legislature’s mapping of political districts – a complicated fight that dates back to 2011.

In 2013, a federal district court ruled that there was evidence that lawmakers intentionally discriminated when redrawing the boundaries. But the U.S. Supreme Court soon complicated the case when it struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act that had forced Texas to seek permission before making changes to election procedures.

Texas filed a motion to dismiss the lower court’s decision on its map, arguing it was moot in light of the Supreme Court ruling. The lower court agreed, but said the plaintiffs “remain free to seek attorneys fees after dismissal.”

And they did.

Instead of filing an opposition to those motions, Texas filed an “advisory” declaring it did not intend to respond unless the court requested it to do so. It argued that the Supreme Court decision alone closed the door on the question about attorneys’ fees.

The appeals court on Tuesday didn’t buy it. Here’s what it ruled:

In short, various procedural and substantive complexities close the door on Texas’s claim that Shelby County instantly resolved the attorneys’ fees question in this case. Texas could have addressed those complexities by briefing them in an opposition to the Intervenors’ motions for attorneys’ fees, but chose not to do so. Texas also could have challenged the district court’s enforcement of its local rule to bar consideration of those issues on appeal, but it chose not to do that in its opening brief either. Texas gets no second bite at the apple now. What little argument Texas did advance in its “Advisory” provides an insufficient basis for overturning the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees.

*****

A new poll commissioned by John Coppedge’s Texas Bipartisan Justice Committee would suggest that Donald Trump is building momentum in Texas as well as he is everywhere else.

The poll shows that, as of Aug. 15, Trump was leading the pack of GOP presidential hopefuls with 24 percent support. Ted Cruz was next with 16 percent, followed by Ben Carson with 12 percent and Jeb Bush with 9 percent.

Rick Perry, Coppedge notes, was the least mentioned among the nine candidates on the survey.

Contrast that to the last University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll from June that had Cruz leading the pack with 20 percent support and Perry second with 12 percent support.

Trump, meanwhile, registered just 2 percent support.

The TBJC survey was conducted by the Florida-based polling firm Gravis Marketing and measured “976 registered Republican voters in Texas regarding opinions of national and Texas politics.”

The margin of error on the survey is 3 percent. The poll was conducted via phone using interactive voice response technology.

Quality journalism doesn't come free

Yes, I'll donate today