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Jury To Hear Houston Equal Rights Ordinance Case

A panel of citizens will help decide the fate of the controversial Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. A judge made that decision on Tuesday.



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Jared Woodfill is an attorney and one of the plaintiffs in the case against the city of Houston. He said this case should be decided by a jury rather than by a judge.

“When they come into that courtroom, they bring their experience, their commonsense with them,” Woodfill said. “And I think when they’ve had a chance to hear what the mayor and her city attorney did, they’re going to say, ‘we disapprove,’ and I think ultimately the people will be allowed to vote on this.”

Last year, opponents of the equal rights ordinance collected signatures to call for a referendum on it.

The jury will vote on whether the city was wrong when it invalidated thousands of those signatures, which ultimately doomed the referendum.

City Attorney David Feldman argued against a jury trial.

He said the state’s election law doesn’t allow for juries to hear an election contest, a legal process to challenge the outcome of an election.

“I’ve never known of an election contest that was tried before a jury, and I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Feldman said. “And I don’t know of any other election law expert in the state of Texas who’s aware of any other case where there has been a jury trial in a situation such as this.”

Woodfill said that law doesn’t apply here because there hasn’t been an election on the issue.

The judge agreed.

The trial is set to start on Jan. 20.


The lawsuit