|Waller County DA Elton Mathis|
The individual being sued is a Second Amendment activist that is working to have local Texas governments follow the law passed by the Texas legislature last year. The law limits where local governments can ban the carry of firearms by people with carry licenses. From khou.com:
Eleven months ago, he and Texas Carry members sent letters to 76 county governments threatening to get the Texas attorney general on their case for banning open carry in offices allowed by law.It probably is not about money. The threatened judgement only uses money as a tool to suppress the activism that Elton Mathis and other Waller County officials dislike. The Waller County DA says the monetary damages were included as "boilerplate language". From beaumontenterprise.com:
Waller County district attorney hit back.
He claims the law’s courthouse gun ban covers his entire building, which includes several other offices considered fair game by open-carry activists, and this December opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
So, Waller County sued.
Off camera, the district attorney says it’s not about money.
It’s a plea for a judge to decide who’s right and who’s wrong.
He calls Holcomb’s claims “a bunch of dribble.”
It's a controversial issue, with strong feelings on both sides. That's OK; in a democracy that will happen. What's not OK is Waller County officials suing Holcomb to reinforce their belief that they have the right to ban guns from the entire courthouse building. The lawsuit seeks $100,000 in damages from Holcomb, but the Waller County DA says that was merely included as boilerplate language.From ap.org:
Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said Friday that Holcomb misunderstands the county's intentions. Mathis said he's simply seeking a ruling by a state judge that the county had the legal right to ban guns from the entire courthouse building.Here are the parts of the lawsuit asking for damages:
The county's suit seeks up to $100,000 in damages from Holcomb but Mathis said that was included as boilerplate language and he promised that the county would not pursue any monetary damages.
Link to lawsuit(pdf):
2.01 Waller County seeks Declaratory Judgment and damages of less than $100,000.At the end of the lawsuit, court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees are asked for at 11.01 D.
If it were simply an oversight, when there was no intention for monetary damages, then Elton Mathis did not do his job when he approved the lawsuit. Perhaps. But maybe Elton Mathis is only trying to do damage control now that his heavy handed tactics are being exposed.
I am not at all certain that the extensive immunity granted to prosecutors by the courts extends to filing lawsuits against private citizens.
A counter lawsuit has been filed. Texas Law Shield does not cover this sort of unprecedented lawsuit. However a Texas Law Shield independent attorney, Edwin Walker, has taken up the defense against the suit. Here is a quote from Walker posted at Texas Law Shield:
“This lawsuit is an unconscionable act that is nothing more than government officials using the judicial system to harass and silence the people. If the courts, the attorney general, and ultimately perhaps the Texas Legislature, does not stop Waller County, it will be open season for local governments to intimidate LTC holders.”Using government resources to sue citizens that complain about government actions, who threaten to use legal mechanisms to report government officials for oversight by higher level authorities, is a novel development indeed.
Walker is working to get the case dismissed, make Waller County take down its sign, and even sanction the assistant district attorneys involved for this tactic. Are you glad to have attorneys like Edwin on your side?
Waller County is the County that was involved in the Sandra Bland case. A pastor involved in that case accused Elton Mathis of sending him threatening and belligerent text messages.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.