Covid Orders

An appeals court in Texas dismissed the state’s appeal in its suit seeking to stop the city of Austin and Travis County from enforcing Covid-19-related orders that temporarily suspended dine-in food and beverage services from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. over New Year’s weekend. The state’s claims are moot and the state failed to show the city and county would likely take the same action again.

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Police Shooting

A family’s suit against an Austin, Texas, police officer who shot and killed their son, who was suicidal and experiencing a mental-health crisis at the time of his death, can proceed, the Fifth Circuit ruled, finding that by 2017, it was “clearly established — and possibly even obvious — that an officer violates the Fourth Amendment if he shoots an unarmed, incapacitated suspect who is moving away from everyone present at the scene.”

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Mask Mandate

A Texas district court judge refused to grant Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request for a temporary injunction to block the city of Austin and Travis County’s mask mandate, saying the state hadn’t given local officials enough time to prepare their case. The judge will hear arguments on the AG’s request on March 26. Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently lifted the state’s requirement that masks be worn in public.

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Camping Ordinance

In a dispute over a proposed ordinance regarding camping in public spaces, sitting and lying down on public sidewalks and aggressive solicitation of money, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Austin City Council must strike from the ballot language the word “anyone.” The court found the word would lead voters to believe the ordinance “criminalizes and penalizes a much wider swath of conduct than it actually does.”

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Sexual Assault Prosecutions

A federal judge in Texas dismissed a class action brought by eight sexual assault victims against Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore and other county and City of Austin defendants. The women had claimed the defendants systematically refused to “appropriately investigate and prosecute sex crimes against women” based on biases about women. 

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