The Fort Bend County truancy lawsuit that has Fort Bend County taxpayers on the hook in the amount of $100,000 for legal representation of the Fort Bend Juvenile board members by Rusty Hardin has reached a new milestone—only this time it’s by way of easily over $400,000 of Fort Bend ISD taxpayer monies used to defend the Fort Bend ISD board of trustees in the same suit.
Last week it was reported the Fort Bend Juvenile board members themselves voted on a deal to use $100,000 in taxpayer funds for their defense in the suit and now a search of the Fort Bend ISD vendor payments website reveals in excess of $1,123,700 paid to the law firm of Rogers, Morris, and Grover, LLP in fiscal year 2016.
(photo used under Creative Commons license)
Fort Bend County District Clerk records show Richard A. Morris retained as legal counsel representing Fort Bend ISD trustee members Jason Burdine, K.P. George, Addie Heyliger, Grayle James, Jim Rice, Dave Rosenthal, and Kristin Tassin in the Fort Bend County truancy lawsuit.
On May 11, 2015 Breitbart Texas reported the suit—Roach v. Ingram, et al:
“alleges that school offense citations are prohibited under Texas law and only the legislature can establish a Court. The Dallas County Truancy Court system is authorized under statute to operate a stand-alone criminal Truancy Court, Fort Bend County is not.”
Unlike Dallas County, Fort Bend “can establish magistrate activities only but has no lawful authority to create a court,” lead attorney in the suit Deron Harrington (Law Office of Deron R. Harrington) told Breitbart Texas.
The petition called this situation an “abominable fraud” also because Texas Government Code 26.045 “renders the Fort Bend County Commissioners devoid of any lawful power to create a criminal court of law” which, in turn, has no jurisdiction to hear these Failure to Attend School (FTAS) complaints, widely recognized as “truancy” charges.
The legal filing also cites “mischievous intermingling of two governmental entities,” alleging Fort Bend’s school district of operating an automated program to mass-produce citations that summon students to appear before the county truancy court.”
The cause number is 15-DCV-223241.
Exit question: did the enactment of HB 2398 change or alter in any way that governmental officials cannot operate a stand-alone court of law without legal authority?