District judge crushes state's petition against city of Double Horn



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Connie Swinney/The Highlander
A district judge denied a petition filed by the State Office of the Attorney General's Office April 3 to dissolve the newly-formed city of Double Horn. Defense Attorneys Andy Messer and Patty Akers represented the municipality, referred to the state's lawsuit as "improper."





By Connie Swinney
Staff Writer

A district judge denied a petition April 3 by the Texas Office of the Attorney General to go forward with a lawsuit to dissolve the newly-formed city of Double Horn.

424th Judicial District Judge Evan Stubbs conducted a hearing in a civil proceeding at the Burnet County Courthouse Annex.

The city faced civil action from the state, which alleged the city did not follow the law when residents organized by petition and conducted an election in December to become a municipality.

State lawyers named the aldermen, mayor and marshal in the case and alleged the city formed to try to halt Spicewood Crushed Stone, a New York-based mining company with a planned operation on 280 acres adjacent to Double Horn.

During the hearing, David Hacker, the Texas OAG's special counsel for Civil Litigation, described what he perceived was the judge's role in a decision about the petition.

Essentially, your honor's task is to review the petition and attached information and determine whether probable grounds exist to essentially allow the lawsuit to proceed in this case,” Hacker said. “I might liken it to reviewing a warrant … and then the lawsuit proceeds like any other civil case with motions and discovery.”

Defense Attorneys Andy Messer and Patti Akers, who represented the city, submitted a written response regarding the state's petition to the judge.

They say their lawyers have looked at internet websites [and] supplied documents that they have read, which are clearly double hearsay,” Messer said during the hearing. “None of that information is verified. Verification is a requirement to proceed.

What they have filed is improper and we should go no further than that,” he added.

In Stubb's decision, he referenced the mining company mentioned in the state's original petition.

That seems to be the type of thing exactly why people hate politics and hate politicians,” Stubbs said. “If we're spending tax dollars to try to create a financial benefit for this company out of New York, that's just wrong.

At this point, I'm not going to be complicit with that,” Stubbs added. “I'm going to find there is not a probability of (the state) winning this lawsuit.”

Stubbs then denied the state's request to proceed with the lawsuit in the 424th Judicial District.

We're very pleased with the results,” Messer said after the hearing. “I just appreciate his looking into the matter, reading all the cases, the evidence, the pleadings and making the decision.”

The state has the option to take their lawsuit to the Third Court of Appeals.

If you want to continue to spend taxpayer dollars on it, the Third Court of Appeals can review that,” Stubbs said during the hearing. “They may say I'm wrong, but from my view of it, it seems like it's the right thing to do, so the petition for leave is denied.”

To offer a comment or news tip, email connie@highlandernews.com or lew@highlandernews.com.


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