Petitioner’s claims were moot after election passed says First District Court of Appeals

Annise D. Parker, Mayor, Anna Russell, City Secretary, and City of Houston v. David B. Wilson 01-15-00687-CV (Tex. App. – Houston, [1st Dist.] March 10, 2016)

This is a mandamus case involving a referendum and whether the City Secretary had a duty to count signatures or certify a number.

In 2015, Wilson conducted a petition drive with the stated purpose of amending Article II, Section 22 of the Charter which prohibited the City from using sexual preference as a factor in employment or in defining gender identification. Wilson filed his original petition for writ of mandamus alleging the City Secretary failed to perform her ministerial duty under the City Charter to count the number of signatures on the petition and certify the petition to the City Council.  Wilson alleged that if the City Secretary did not count the signatures and certify the petition, “the Charter Amendment cannot be placed on the ballot in November 2015,” resulting in irreparable harm.  After a hearing the trial court granted Wilson’s mandamus petition and ordered the City Secretary to count and certify the petition. The City filed an interlocutory appeal. A flurry of motions and emergency motions were filed. Ultimately, the petition issues were not placed on the November ballot.

An appellate court is prohibited from deciding a moot controversy or rendering an advisory opinion. After analyzing all of the motions and original proceedings filed by Wilson, the court determined Wilson’s objective was to have his proposed amendment placed on the November 2015 ballot. Because the deadline and election have passed the case is moot. A case may be dismissed as moot at any stage of the proceedings, including on appeal.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Justice Higley, Justice Huddle and Justice Lloyd. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Lloyd. The attorneys listed for Wilson are Keith Alexander Gross and James D. Pierce.  The attorneys listed for the City of Houston Defendants are Donna Edmundson, Kathleen Hopkins Alsina and Patricia L. Casey.

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