Supreme Court of Texas Blog: Legal Issues Before the Texas Supreme Court

No. 15-0632
TAMES

IN RE SHANNON DORN, KATHLEEN O'CONNELL, COMMUNITIES FOR THRIVING WATERS - FLOURIDE-FREE SAN MARCOS, AND MORGAN KNECHT

The Court denied review of the petition on August 28, 2015. File Closed

In the news...

Tracking 1 article about this case.

September 4, 2015

Fourteen grants, and some (straggling) opinions about the San Marcos water-flouridation case [Sep. 4, 2015]

from SCOTXblog

The article also mentions:
  • IN RE JARED WOODFILL ET AL.
  • The Court has issued opinions:

    Opinions

    September 4, 2015

    Brown
    Green

    Justice Brown, joined by Justice Green, concurring in the denial of the petition for writ of mandamus. PDF

    Devine
    Lehrmann

    Justice Devine, joined by Justice Lehrmann, dissenting from the denial of the petition for writ of mandamus. PDF

     

    Court of Appeals

    None

    Trial Court

    None

    Entries on SCOTX Orders Lists

    Docket Entries

    Date Event Outcome  
    2015-10-08 Case Stored  
    2015-09-04 Justice(s) concurring in the denial of petition  
    2015-09-04 Justice(s) dissent to denial of petition  
    2015-08-28 Petition for Writ of Mandamus disposed   Denied
    2015-08-28 Motion to dismiss disposed   Denied
    2015-08-28 Motion to dismiss disposed   Denied
    2015-08-25 Supplement to Clerk's/Reporter's Record  
    2015-08-25 Case Record Filed  
    2015-08-25 Case Record Filed  
    2015-08-25 Reply to Petition for Writ of Mandamus (Relator)  
    2015-08-25 Amended Petition for Writ of Mandamus filed (Relator)  
    2015-08-24 Letter sent to parties from Supreme Court - See Remarks  
    2015-08-24 Phone call from Clerk's Office  
    2015-08-24 Response to Petition for Writ of Mandamus Filed (Respondent)  
    2015-08-24 Motion to dismiss  
    2015-08-24 Response to Motion filed  
    2015-08-24 Phone call from Clerk's Office  
    2015-08-24 Motion to dismiss  
    2015-08-24 Motion for Extension of Time disposed.   Denied
    2015-08-23 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response  
    2015-08-21 Amended Certificate  
    2015-08-21 Phone call from Clerk's Office  
    2015-08-21 Notice of Appearance  
    2015-08-21 Supreme Court of Texas Requested Response  
    2015-08-20 Document filed (see remarks)  
    2015-08-20 Petition for Writ of Mandamus (Relator)  

    Parties

    Party Counsel Role
    Dorn, Shannon
    Mr. Brad Rockwell
    Relator
    Thomason, Ryan
    Mr. William M. (Mick) McKamie
    Mr. Michael John Cosentino
    Respondent
    Thomaides, John
    Mr. Michael John Cosentino
    Mr. William M. (Mick) McKamie
    Respondent
    O'Connell, Kathleen
    Mr. Brad Rockwell
    Relator
    Prather, Jude
    Mr. Michael John Cosentino
    Mr. William M. (Mick) McKamie
    Respondent
    Prewitt, Lisa
    Mr. William M. (Mick) McKamie
    Mr. Michael John Cosentino
    Respondent
    Hughson, Jane
    Mr. Michael John Cosentino
    Mr. William M. (Mick) McKamie
    Respondent
    Scott, Shane
    Mr. William M. (Mick) McKamie
    Mr. Michael John Cosentino
    Respondent
    Knecht, Morgan
    Craig F. Young
    Relator
    Communities for Thriving Waters - Fluoride-Free San Marcos
    Mr. Brad Rockwell
    Relator
    Guerrero, Daniel
    Mr. William M. (Mick) McKamie
    Mr. Michael John Cosentino
    Respondent
    Pettijohn, Jamie Lee
    Mr. William M. (Mick) McKamie
    Mr. Michael John Cosentino
    Respondent

    Even short delays in the litigation process can doom a mandamus petition

    cities elections mandamus

    This case involves a petition drive seeking to put the question of fluoridated water on the ballot, in the form of a charter amendment. In May, the city clerk sent a letter to the group stating that the signatures would not be counted because the petitions were not accompanied by an oath or affirmation of validity. The group sent some letters explaining its position to the city. The city responded by itself filing suit on June 18, seeking a declaratory judgment. The group filed an answer and counterclaim on July 17.

    On August 14, the district court ruled for the group of voters. The city, however, filed for an interlocutory appeal that stayed further action in the trial court. With the ballot deadline looming, and perhaps inspired by the Court's very recent ruling supporting a citizen's petition in IN RE JARED WOODFILL ET AL., No. 14-0667, the group of voters sought immediate mandamus relief from the Texas Supreme Court.

    On August 28, the Texas Supreme Court denied relief. With its September 4 orders list, some of the Justices wrote separate opinions explaining their own thinking.

    Justice Devine, joined by Justice Lehrmann, would have granted the mandamus relief because the legal question was clear and because failing to issue mandamus relief would bless the city's use of an interlocutory appeal to moot the ability of courts to speak to the question:

    Here, a district court determined the City Clerk must review the petition signatures and perform her ministerial duty. Rather than comply, the City initiated an interlocutory appeal, assuring that the deadline would pass before relief could be obtained. I would not permit a city to use a directory deadline in the Election Code in this manner to either avoid a ministerial duty or thwart the will of the people.

    Justice Brown, joined by Justice Green, wrote an opinion concurring in the Court's decision to deny relief. The concurrence focused on the delays earlier in the process — such as the letters being written to the city, and the voters waiting 30 days to file an answer rather than filing one immediately. The concurrence suggested that the voters should have first sought relief from the court of appeals before coming directly to the Texas Supreme Court because the "urgency [here] is of their own making."

    The interlocutory appeal filed by the city remains pending in the court of appeals.

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