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Term Limit Lawsuit: City Of Houston Claims Plaintiffs Missed Deadline To Serve Defendants

The city has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that its referendum on changing term limits was misleading.

Last November, Houston voters approved an amendment to the City Charter that changed the length and maximum number of terms elected officials can serve.

The lawsuit by Phillip Paul Bryant alleges the language on the ballot tricked voters into thinking they were voting for limiting terms, when they actually extended them.

But the city says the suit should be dismissed because the plaintiff missed the deadline to deliver the citation by one day.

"It sounds like the city has a good argument," Matthew Festa, professor at the South Texas College of Law, says. "And as much as we don't want important issues to be resolved by technicalities, those are the rules of the game."

Kevin Fulton, one of the attorneys for the plaintiff, says they are looking at the city's argument and possible case law in their favor.

"There are some cases where you have what's called the ‘mailbox rule,' which allows you do use the date that it was sent out," he says. "And so we're looking to see if that will come into play."

Fulton says they hired a different group to serve the city the citation and are in the process of determining what happened.

The lawsuit requests that the referendum on the term limit change be void.

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