State Rep. Terry Keel's office confirms that the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, which he heads, and the General Investigating and Ethics Committee have asked the State Bar of Texas to investigate actions by assistant Dallas City Attorney Jennifer Richie. She's the city lawyer who was going after Dale Davenport, the car-wash guy on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard I've written so much about.
In October of last year, when the two committees held hearings in Dallas, Keel made it clear he thought Richie in particular and the Dallas city attorney's office in general needed a good sound snouting for the way they had gone after business owners under state anti-nuisance laws. In particular, Keel and other legislators were alarmed by testimony that Richie may have tried to jam up a Dallas cop's career because he dared to say a certain business wasn't crooked, when Richie was in court trying to make it out to be a den of iniquity.
Keel's office also confirms that the entire matter of how Dallas' City Hall treats businesses and conducts its own business has been referred to the U.S. Justice Department for a civil rights investigation.
I know the city's going to say this is all nothing. It's just two powerful legislative committees in Austin that think City Hall stinks to high heaven. Why worry about that?
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The city was trying to push off its own responsibility for law enforcement on business owners by suing them for allowing crime to occur in their vicinity. A rough equivalent would be busting people for allowing themselves to catch contagious diseases. One always wonders, when contemplating Dallas' elected officials, who they think works for whom. --Jim Schutze