State Court Judge Halts Farmers Branch Ordinance

ACLU and MALDEF pleased that unconstitutional ordinance will not go into effect on January 12, 2007

January 11, 2007

FARMERS BRANCH, TX - Today, Judge Priddy of the 116th District Court in Dallas prohibited the City of Farmers Branch from enforcing Farmers Branch Ordinance 2892, which would require landlords in Farmers Branch to verify the citizenship or immigration status of every tenant living in a complex with three or more units or face a $500 fine per violation. In an order issued at 11:00 am today, the judge found that a landlord had demonstrated a probability that the process by which the Ordinance was adopted on November 13, 2006 may constitute a violation of the Texas Open Meeting Act.

The Temporary Restraining Order issued by Judge Priddy will remain in effect until January 22, 2007, when the Judge will hold a hearing to determine whether the ordinance should be further enjoined pending a full trial on the merits of the Texas Open Meeting Act claim.

The Order is parallel to the relief sought in the federal civil rights suit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas (ACLU) on December 26, 2006. The ACLU and MALDEF also sought a Temporary Restraining Order through a motion filed yesterday in federal court in Dallas.

“We are very glad the state court issued its temporary restraining order today and will move forward with our request for a Temporary Restraining Order in federal court in the constitutional challenge,” commented Nina Perales, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel.”

“The residents of Farmers Branch can rest easier tonight knowing that Ordinance 2892 will not go into effect tomorrow, if at all.” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas. “While we await Judge Priddy’s next ruling, we will continue to pursue our federal civil rights suit on behalf of both landlords and tenants who will be harmed by this Ordinance if it goes into effect.”

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

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