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Austin judge signs order to block arrests of Democrats who refuse to return to Texas Capitol for special session

A state district judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking the arrest of House Democrats who have broken quorum, paving the way for those who remain outside the state to return home without threat of arrest.
More than 51 Texas House Democrats left the state last week to stop Republicans from taking up...
More than 51 Texas House Democrats left the state last week to stop Republicans from taking up elections bills during the special session. (Source: Shuran Huang for The Texas Tribune)(Shuran Huang for The Texas Tribune)
Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 10:41 AM CDT
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"Austin judge signs order to block arrests of Democrats who refuse to return to Texas Capitol for special session" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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A state district judge in Travis County has granted a temporary restraining order blocking the arrest of House Democrats who have broken quorum, paving the way for those who remain outside the state to return home without threat of arrest.

State District Judge Brad Urrutia, a Democrat, signed the order late Sunday night restricting Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan from "detaining, confining or otherwise restricting" the free movement of House Democrats within the state or issuing any warrants ordering their confinement.

The order expires in 14 days unless extended by Urrutia. The court will hear arguments on a temporary injunction on Aug. 20 where Abbott and Phelan must show why a temporary injunction should not be filed against them.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 19 House Democrats by attorneys Sam Bassett, Jeremy Monthy and Megan Rue.

It is the second lawsuit filed by House Democrats in an attempt to avoid arrest if they returned to Texas. The other was filed by attorney Craig Washington in federal court in Austin on behalf of 22 House Democrats. It was riddled with problems, including subsequent statements by at least four of the plaintiffs that they had not authorized the suit on their behalf.

The lawsuit in federal court also included State Rep. James White, R-Hilister, as a defendant. White is not named as a defendant in the case in state court.

Reference

Read the Democrats petition for a judge to block their arrests.
(1.7 MB)

Reference

Read the judge's order blocking Democrats' arrest.
(215.2 KB)

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/08/09/texas-democrats-special-session/.

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