Noticed on PACER this morning something that's gone unnoticed since its filing at the end of last week: That heated lawsuit pitting Dallas County constables against the Dallas County Commissioners Court -- the one involving allegations of retaliation and corruption, the one that dragged everyone in and out of federal court last fall -- is over. Not with a bang, but with a brief order of dismissal signed by Senior U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson six days ago. It says, in total:
The Court has considered the Stipulation of Dismissal filed by all parties in this action and having been advised by counsel that the parties have agreed that this action should be dismissed without prejudice and that all parties bear their own costs of court, expenses, and legal fees, it is ORDERED that this cause is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE to the refilling of the same; and each party shall bear its own costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees incurred in conjunction with this litigation.
This, you may recall, is the suit filed in August by Beth Villareal, Ben Adamcik and Roy Williams and other unnamed deputies, who claimed the county's at-the-time-forthcoming vote to fire 100 deputies and shift some constables' duties to the Sheriff's Department was in retaliation for their having blown the whistle on constables Jamie Cortes and Derick Evans in 2008 and '09. They also weren't particularly pleased with how the county handled those cases involving deputies accused of pretending to serve notices when GPS records showed that they, ya know, didn't.
But the suit came to a screeching halt at the end of September, when Furgeson suspended the legal matter till the commissioners' vote on the deputies' doings, which came a week later, when the court told Lupe Valdez's office to deliver some court docs previously distributed by deputy constables. John Barr, the attorney repping the constables, didn't say then what he planned to do next. And he won't say today why the suit's been dropped. The normally talkative lawyer, who once said this case was about "systemic and unabated corruption in county government," declined to comment when I called him this afternoon.
Maria Arita, the county spokesperson, didn't have much more. Said she via email: "The plaintiffs (the Constables) have filed a motion to dismiss the case without prejudice. Without prejudice means they are free to refile the case if they believe there is 'new' evidence to move forward."
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Those familiar with the case do say the relationship between the commissioners court and constables isn't as tense as it was just a few months ago, and the plaintiffs believed that pursuing the case further would undo whatever goodwill that currently exists. And, sources say, some deputies threatened with removal following the GPS incident have been reassigned elsewhere within the county, though no one will say who and where.