Texas Judge Lora Livingston ruled that the city of Austin can keep its citywide mask mandate, after a hearing on Friday morning.
Following a three-hour Zoom hearing, Livingston blocked a March 12 request by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to overrule the city health authority's masking restrictions.
The mandate, reinstated by Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott, enforces COVID restrictions such as masking and social distancing effective Wednesday, March 10. While Gov. Abbott's order that reopened Texas at 100% doesn't let local jurisdictions overrule his order, it does grant counties the authority to reverse the reopening if COVID hospitalizations increase.
Paxton went through with a lawsuit against the city earlier this month after threatening to do.
Austin currently has a COVID death rate lower than any other metro in Texas. While the city experiences 73 deaths per 100,000, Texas has about 160 per 100,000. Escott credits mask use with saving at least 1,100 Austinites.
The city was previously in a similar position when the county tried to enforce a curfew on New Year's Eve weekend. The Texas Supreme Court went in the state's favor.
Three registered voters—Linda Durnin, Eric Krohn, and Michael Lovins—who signed the Save Austin Now petition are lead plaintiffs (called relators in legal terms) in identical lawsuits filed with both the Third Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court.
The Original Emergency Petition for Writ of Mandamus filed with the Third Court of Appeals (Case No. 03-21-00075-CV) filed February 16, 2021, asks the court to issue an immediate writ of mandamus that would compel the Austin City Council to adopt the caption contained in the petition as the ballot language. Either that or adopt alternative ballot language that more accurately reflects the primary purpose of the petition.
Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.
Larimen Thaddeus "Larry" Wallace's employment at Central Health was terminated in December 2019. The triggering event was a complaint of his alleged sexual harassment of a female member of the agency's board of managers.
Wallace, now 72, has a history of inappropriate sexually oriented comments documented in his personnel records obtained by The Austin Bulldog and published in an investigative report October 30, 2020. In December 2016, Wallace was given training in "sexual harassment avoidance" by an outside attorney.
Read the full story by The Austin Bulldog here.
Brenda Ramos, mother of the man who was shot and killed by APD Officer Christopher Taylor, has filed a lawsuit against the officer and the City of Austin.
The fatal shooting took place on April 24 when APD officers responded to a call that Mike Ramos had a gun. Despite the claim in the call and the subsequent use of deadly force, no weapons were found.
His mother filed the suit on Wednesday evening and claims Taylor killed her son without justification. The suit also accuses the city of harboring an "institutionally racist and aggressive policing culture."
In the lawsuit, Brenda Ramos also references the bodycam footage depicting the APD officers shouting conflicting orders such as, "walk towards us" but then telling her son to "turn around," while another officer yells "put your hands up." She calls the incident "a gross civil rights violation."
She is asking for a jury trial and suing for damages including the funeral expenses for her only son.
Brenda Ramos has been vocal about her search for justice since the April shooting. She has called for criminal convictions of the officers and a grand jury trial but this is the first time she has filed a lawsuit.
Mike Ramos became a prominent figure during the Black Lives Matter movement in Austin this summer. As protests were initially sparked in the wake of George Floyd's death, community members were quick to shift the focus to the people who have had similar deaths in their own city.
Current Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore has announced that the case will not go to a grand jury until her successor, Jose Garza steps into the role on Jan. 1.
After his win in November, Garza has stated that Mike Ramos' case will be the first he addresses as the new district attorney.
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