March 14, 2018

Johnston’s client was one of three District Attorneys targeted in the suit

Eric A. Johnston, Partner with McGinnis Lochridge in Austin, along with Associate Andrew Edge succeeded in winning a dismissal for their client, Laura C. Nodolf, District Attorney for Midland County. Ms. Nodolf was one of three district attorneys named in the civil rights lawsuit filed by the political action group, Empower Texans. The other defendants were Karen Wilson, Criminal District Attorney for Tarrant County, Margaret Moore, District Attorney for Travis County, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Johnston said the decision was a significant victory in what is likely to be a contentious election season. “This was a very good win for District Attorney Nodolf and the victory establishes that none of the actions Empower Texans complained about took place in Midland County,” said Johnston.

At McGinnis Lochridge, Johnston and Edge represent governmental entities and clients in a number of industries, in matters involving complex business litigation, constitutional law, and employment law.

Empower Texans had filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to stop the three state District Attorneys and the attorney general from launching a criminal probe into the group’s strategy, used to attack Texas State Representative Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, in his GOP primary against businessman Bo French. A voter submitted a complaint to the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, claiming that an Empower Texans advertisement may have violated a law prohibiting people from posing as government officials, under Section 37.11 of the Texas Penal Code.

In his ruling released earlier this month, Federal Judge David Counts denied the temporary restraining order sought by Empower Texans, dismissing the case and all charges against the named defendants.

“At this point, no Texas governmental entity has filed an indictment, made a threat, commenced an official investigation, contacted (Empower Texans), or even expressed an official or unofficial opinion that (Empower Texans’) conduct is proscribed by the statute,” Counts said in his decision.

Counts also said, “Accordingly, to argue that a district attorney’s review of a citizen’s complaint is indicative of a threat of enforcement is nothing more than speculation,” Counts’ order said. “Such speculation does not create an irreparable injury that is both great and immediate.”


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