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In re Jones

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

January 24, 2018

IN RE RAQUEL C. JONES, Relator IN RE ANTHONY EILAND, Relator IN RE STACI WILLIAMS, Relator

         Original Proceeding from the 160th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-18-00482

         Original Proceeding from the 14th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-18-00131

         Original Proceeding from the 44th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-18-00641

          Before Justices Francis, Evans, and Schenck

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PER CURIAM

         These three election law cases all involve challenges to the composition of the Democratic Party Primary Ballot in connection with the March 2018 primary election. On January 19, 2018, on the eve of the deadline to mail absentee ballots for the March 6 primary election, three district court judges granted interlocutory injunctive relief in three different challenges to candidate petitions. Although the underlying lawsuits were filed at different times, all three orders issued during the course of the day on Friday, January 19, before the January 20 deadline for mailing official ballots to military and overseas voters under the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. Three original proceedings and requests for emergency relief were filed the evening of January 19. We stayed all three trial court orders, which reinstated the status quo, and we requested responses to the petitions for writ of mandamus. In the interim, the Dallas County Elections Administrator printed and mailed absentee ballots in accordance with federal law. The ballots included candidate names as determined by the Democratic Party prior to the district courts' orders. We now issue this opinion.

         Background

         The district courts' orders each affected the make-up of the Democratic primary ballot, either by removing candidates or adding a candidate to the ballot. However, each case arose from slightly different facts, summarized below.

         A. In re Raquel C. Jones, No. 05-18-00065-CV

         Raquel C. Jones is a candidate in the Democratic primary election for the office of judge of the 203rd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas. Jones's opponent in the Democratic Primary, incumbent Teresa Hawthorne, submitted her application for a place on the Democratic Party General Primary Ballot with the Dallas County Democratic Party (DCDP) on December 11, 2017. Jones challenged Hawthorne's application. Carol Donovan, Chair of the DCDP, accepted the challenge on January 8, 2018 and did not certify Hawthorne's name for placement on the March 6, 2018 primary ballot. Hawthorne then filed a lawsuit on January 16 against Donovan, the DCDP, and the Dallas County Election Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole under section 273.081 of the Texas Election Code. Hawthorne sought a temporary restraining order requiring Donovan, the DCDP, and Poole to include Hawthorne's name on the March 6 Democratic Primary Ballot and a temporary and permanent injunction enjoining them from excluding Hawthorne's name from that ballot. Jones intervened. The trial court granted and signed a temporary restraining order on January 19 at 3:30 p.m.[1] Donovan, the DCDP, and Poole were ordered to include Hawthorne's name on the primary ballot. The trial court set bond at $100 and set the final trial date for May 7.

         Jones filed this original proceeding at 4:55 p.m. on January 19. In this original proceeding, Jones sought emergency relief and a writ directing the trial court to vacate the temporary restraining order so Hawthorne's name would not appear on the primary ballot. This Court stayed the temporary restraining order and, thus, the primary ballots mailed on January 20 did not include Hawthorne's name as a candidate.

         B. In re Anthony Eiland, No. 05-18-00067-CV

         Anthony Eiland is a candidate in the Democratic primary election for the office of Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, Place 1 of Dallas County, Texas. Eiland submitted his application to the DCDP on December 8 for a place on the primary ballot, and Donovan certified Eiland for the primary ballot. Eiland's Democratic opponent, Margaret O'Brien, challenged Eiland's application and signatures through a lawsuit filed on January 4. O'Brien sought a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction against Donovan and the DCDP under section 273.081 of the election code to prevent Eiland from being placed on the March 6 Democratic Primary ballot.[2] O'Brien also sought a declaratory judgment declaring Eiland's application and petition invalid for failure to obtain the required 250 valid signatures. At 4:15 p.m. on January 19, the district court granted and signed a temporary injunction order enjoining Donovan and the DCDP from certifying Eiland's application and enjoining them from placing or allowing Eiland's name to appear on the March 6 Democratic Primary ballot. The trial court set bond at $500 and set the final trial date for February 7.

         Eiland filed this original proceeding at 9:18 p.m. on January 19. In this original proceeding, Eiland sought emergency relief and a writ directing the trial court to vacate the temporary injunction so Eiland's name would appear on the primary ballot. This Court stayed the temporary injunction and, ...


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