SKV’s client Tarsha Jackson secured the most votes in the November 2019, General Election for District B Council member, securing her a spot in the runoff originally scheduled for December 2019. However, the third-place finisher filed an election contest to have the second-place finisher disqualified.
As a result, the runoff election was stayed, and the residents of District B were left without their chosen representative when the new term began in January 2020.
SKV Attorneys Larry Veselka and Jacquelyn Rex tried the Election Contest on January 24, 2020 before Special Judge Grant Dorfman. On February 4, 2020, Special Judge Dorfman denied the third-place finisher’s election contest and ordered that the City of Houston conduct a runoff election between candidates Jackson and the second-place finisher as SKV was asking the Court to do.
The third-place finisher appealed the Special Judge’s order denying her election contest—which further stayed the runoff election. Larry Veselka and Jacquelyn Rex filed a responsive brief, emphasizing that the records presented by the third-place finisher did not conclusively establish the second-place finisher’s ineligibility and that City of Houston officials lacked fact-finding authority under the plain language of the Election Code to look beyond the documents presented to it. Veselka and Rex also argued that testimony in a separate proceeding could not properly be considered by City officials, and that a contrary holding would improperly combine that Election Code’s administrative, non-judicial procedure for declaring candidates ineligible with a judicial proceeding.
On August 11, 2020, the First Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision, thereby allowing the City of Houston to schedule the long-awaited runoff election for District B Council member. This is a critical victory for Tarsha Jackson and the residents of District B, and highlights SKV’s ability to successfully handle both trials and appeals.
For more information, contact: