Wednesday, April 27, 2016
3rd Court of Appeals hears Laura Pressley
"You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another."
3rd Court of Appeals -- This afternoon, the 3rd Court of Appeals hear Laura Pressley's appeal of the summary judgement issued last year in her election contest against Greg Casar. If Pressley's appeal is successful, it would remand the case back to the trial court for a full trial. Most importantly, re-instating Pressley's lawsuit would resume the process of discovery that was aborted with the summary judgement.
Judge Melissa Goodwin voiced concerns about whether or not proceeding with Pressley's lawsuit would "disenfranchise voters." Pressley's attorney, David Rogers, correctly pointed out that the voters were already disenfranchised when "Travis County dropped the ball." Travis County disenfranchised the voters with their failure to follow Texas Election Code; holding Travis County accountable for their actions doesn't disenfranchise anything.
The case hinges on the difference between 'ballot images' and 'cast vote records.' During the recount, Travis County was able to produce the latter but not the former. Cast vote records are a tally sheet for total votes cast. Ballot images are manuscripts of how individual voters voted. Consider the difference:
Casar's lawyer claimed a "CVR is the same thing as a ballot image." Obviously, that isn't true. Pressley's lawyers explained that the whole point of the recount was to verify what the cast vote records were claiming. That's why you need the ballot images. That's why we're here.
The other major issue was the fact that Travis County didn't print out 'zero tapes' during early voting. Zero tapes are the daily election results for each polling location. The Texas Election Code requires election judges to print zero tapes DAILY during early voting. Casar's lawyer pointed out that the secretary of state had granted Travis County a waiver from this provision. Of course, waiver or no, that doesn't change the fact that Travis County failed to follow Texas Election Code (Sidenote; That the Sec'y of State is advising counties to break the law is the subject for another day.)
The final issue concerned the financial sanctions the trial court placed on Pressley and her lawyer. Rogers pointed out how most of the alleged issues that led to the sanctions had never occurred. Discussing these issues, Casar's attorney spoke in favor of the sanctions to prevent the "dangerous" precedent of candidates filing election challenges.
At the end of the day, victory would mean returning this case to the lower court to hold a full trial. Most important, it would re-open the process of discovery that the summary judgement short-circuited. The Court of Appeals should rule in about a month.