On Nov. 4, in what’s known as the Texas voter ID case, the U.S. Department of Justice, the NAACP, other plaintiffs and the state of Texas all filed proposals for discovery schedules.
The three discovery schedule proposals submitted in Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches v. John Steen, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, were all similar in timing with one exception, and that was the proposal submitted by individual plaintiffs represented by Chad Dunn of Houston’s Brazil & Dunn.
The DOJ, the NAACP and the State of Texas all proposed a schedule with a trial starting March 2015. But Dunn’s clients want a trial before the November 2014 elections.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos scheduled a hearing on the discovery and scheduling proposals on Nov. 15 in Corpus Christi. Dunn says: “Our position is that the case was already developed and tried before judges in Washington, D.C. and only returned” because of the U.S. Supreme Court decision last June in Shelby v. Alabama, in which a divided court struck down the formula devised by congress under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, prompting the DOJ to file in August this suit against Texas.
Ezra Rosenberg, a partner in Dechert who represents the NAACP, said the DOJ and his clients agree that they would like a trial as soon as possible but they want to be sure a comprehensive record of evidence is collected.
"This case is too important not to have that," Rosenberg says.
Elizabeth Westfall, a DOJ staff lawyer on the case, did not return a call. Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General's office, which represents the state defendants, writes in an email that her agency will not be commenting.
-- Miriam Rozen