Sunday, February 15, 2015

#HERO trial goes into overtime

Charles is on this case, so just know that -- in the immortal words of Senator John Blutarsky -- "nothing's over unless WE say it is".

Applicable to both the pro-HEROs and the cons.  And then on to the next, whatever this forthcoming ruling presents.

The city claimed victory Friday when the jury in the trial surrounding Houston's equal rights ordinance found that the law's opponents submitted a repeal referendum petition that contained forgery and other flaws.
However, it issued a series of decisions that were far from a clean sweep for either side.

The ruling is not final, and a judge will now consider the jury's findings about the work of more than 100 circulators of the petition that the city rejected last summer, citing overwhelming notary and signature-gatherer errors.

District Judge Robert Schaffer was not present for Friday's ruling after nearly six days of jury deliberation. Attorneys on both sides said he will now begin counting which signatures are valid to see if opponents have reached the needed 17,269-signature threshold. Schaffer retains wide legal discretion in what he deems valid.

The jury's ruling Friday will trigger a series of legal dominoes that, eventually, will yield a definitive answer: The judge will count the signatures, issue a decision on whether the petition is valid and then the case will almost certainly go to the appellate courts.

If the legal battles carry us through most of 2015, then there may be no referendum on November's ballot, and that's IF there are enough good signatures, as determined by Judge Schaffer and then decided again by one of the two Courts of Appeal with jurisdiction over Harris County (Republican-dominated).  From there to the SCOTX, on some indeterminable timeline.  Harris County's conservatives will make every effort to turn the November '15 municipal elections into a referendum on HERO anyway, regardless of which court decides what and when they do so.

As Charles has also detailed, we have better things to discuss in this year's city elections.

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