TCAA, in conjunction with the Texas Municipal League, files amicus briefs and comments in support of cities on many issues. To keep up to date on the status of these issues, go to http://www.tml.org/p/amicus.pdf.
Public Information Act: Greg Abbott v. City of Dallas; Cause No. 03-13-00686-CV in the Third Court of Appeals in Austin. This case deals with the interplay between the Public Information Act and the attorney-client privilege. The issue is whether a city’s failure to timely raise the attorney-client privilege as an exception to disclosure waives the privilege. The Texas Municipal League, along with a number of other amici, argue that it does not because: (1) long-established and well-recognized policy supporting the attorney-client privilege is a compelling reason to withhold confidential attorney-client communications from public disclosure under Texas Government Code Section 552.302; (2) the harm that will predictably result to governmental entities, public officials, and public employees is a profoundly compelling reason to withhold information consisting of confidential attorney-client communications from public disclosure; (3) determination of whether specific information remains subject to attorney-client protection must be made solely by the client and the client’s legal representative, not by an arbitrary statutory deadline imposed without consideration of the facts surrounding possible intentional waiver of the privilege, nor by the office of the attorney general; and (4) the city is an entity that acts through the persons who serve as its officials and employees, and each of those officials and employees are entitled to protections of the attorney-client privilege, and those protections cannot be and are not waived by acts or omissions of the governmental body and its designees. The brief was filed on July 11, 2014.
Holdover Doctrine: Richard Bianchi v. State of Texas, Cause No. 13-14-00303-CV in the Thirteenth Court of Appeals in Tyler. This case deals with the interplay between the “resign to run” provision in Article XVI, Section 65, of the Texas Constitution, and the “holdover” provision in Article XVI, Section 17. A county attorney automatically resigned under the “resign to run” provision because he announced his candidacy for another office with more than one year and 30 days remaining in his term. The commissioners court took no action, allowing him to hold over in office. The district attorney brought a quo warranto proceeding to remove the county attorney (i.e., to stop him from holding over). The trial court issued an order removing the county attorney. TML, along with the Texas Association of Counties, and the Texas Conference of Urban Counties, argued that – since the enactment of the provisions over 100 years ago – the attorney general and local government attorneys have properly advised that the holdover provision applies to the scenario in the case. The reasoning is that continuity in government is paramount. The brief was filed on June 30, 2014.