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LULAC Can’t Take Lawyer’s Hat Out of Ring

DALLAS (CN) - The League of United Latin American Citizens cannot block a Dallas attorney from running to serve as its national president, a Texas judge ruled.

In a March complaint against Domingo Garcia, the group argued that Garcia is ineligible for not paying his dues and for not being an active member of a local council for at least three consecutive years, which is required by its constitution.

Garcia filed an answer, counterclaim and emergency application for injunctive relief Thursday, accusing LULAC national board members of scheming against his candidacy to protect themselves.

Within hours, Judge Carlos Cortez issued a temporary restraining order stopping LULAC from preventing Garcia's candidacy and restraining it from publishing any statements that Garcia is ineligible to run.

"The court further finds that defendant has a probable right to recovery, probable immediate injury in the interim, and that if plaintiff is not restrained, defendant will have no adequate remedy at law," Cortez wrote. "If unrestrained, plaintiff will deprive defendant of his right to run for office of national president of LULAC in 2013."

Garcia described LULAC's suit as "trickery," and said it has also refused to accept dues from local Council 102 at least three times.

"Plaintiff, whose executive members clearly have something to hide, are trying to create false issues to muddy the water and prevent Garcia from running for office," the 16-page answer states. "Plaintiff's argument is basically that Garcia was not part of a council in good standing for three consecutive years immediately prior to being elected. However, this is not the case. Garcia and Council 102 have been in good standing from 2010 until present."

Garcia said LULAC ultimately accepted Council 201's dues, but applied them to the new calendar year and designated it as a new council in order to "manufacture their technical argument" that the council is not in good standing.

"This was clearly done by nationals to prevent Garcia from running for the office of national president," the answer states. "While the checks for the third attempt to pay dues for calendar year 2012 were written late, LULAS has always had a policy, and it has always been the custom, to accept due late, either 1) at the National Convention, where Garcia and Council 102's dues were refused; 2) when Ramiro Luna sent the dues by mail and accepted by the state but refused by Nationals; or, 3) after the Convention in December 2012 when LULAC National accepted the checks but misapplied the funds to calendar year 2013."

He added: "Interestingly, the people making this decision are the very people that Garcia is seeking to run against."

With his eye on the LULAC National Convention in Las Vegas this June, Garcia also said that the constitution makes no mention of a candidate's need to be in "good standing" for three consecutive years "immediately preceding" an election.

Garcia's candidacy comes several months after he lost the Democratic Party's primary runoff election for the newly created seat in the U.S. House for the 33rd Congressional District of Texas.

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, defeated Garcia and went on to win the general election. The 33rd District stretches from east Fort Worth through the suburbs of Arlington and Grand Prairie and into southern Dallas.

Garcia received his law degree from Texas Southern University in 1983. He served on the Dallas City Council from 1991 to 1995 and was elected mayor pro tem in 1993. He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1992 to 2002.

Garcia said he has "devoted his life to helping others and his community." As a state representative, he purportedly helped pass several bills that helped children go to college, prevent dropouts, aid law enforcement and promote civil rights.

"On April 9, 2006, Garcia was the key leader and organizer of the largest march in Texas history, when over 500,000 people gathered in downtown Dallas to support comprehensive immigration reform," the answer states. "Additionally, Garcia is the founder of the Phoenix Project, a drug treatment program for youth."

Garcia is seeking a permanent injunction and declaration that he and Council 102 are members in good standing and that he may run for president. He is represented by Lawrence Friedman with Friedman Feiger in Dallas.

Follow @davejourno
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