Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- –In August of 2016, Terry Holcomb, a Second Amendment activist, wrote a letter to Waller County, Texas. The letter asked Waller County to stop breaking the law, according to what had been passed in the 2015 legislature. Some county officials disagreed with the Texas Attorney General, on what the law meant.
So Waller County sued the Second Amendment activist, in an attempt to undercut the Attorney General. This was a direct violation of Texas Law, the Texas Constitution, and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
A Government entity cannot sue a citizen merely for complaining against it and asking the entity to follow the law.
The case has been in the courts for over two years. The Second Amendment activist has been vindicated. He has not yet been paid the attorney fees and costs he is due. Here is the timeline:
On the 28th day of November 2016, Judge Albert M. McCaig, Jr. found for Waller County.
Terry Holcomb filed for an extension to appeal to the Texas Court of Appeals in Houston on 21 November 2017.
On 5 January 2018, the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas issued an amicus brief to the appeals court, contending that Waller County had every right to sue Holcomb, and the appeals court should rule against him. From txcourts.gov:
The County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas seeks to avoid the negative impact that will result if the district court decision is reversed. Accordingly, the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas has paid all fees and expenses associated with the preparation of this brief.
On 15 March 2018, the Court of Appeals found for Terry Holcomb. They found there was no standing to sue Holcomb because Holcomb did nothing wrong. He merely complained. From caselaw.findlaw.com:
The trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to hear Waller County’s declaratory-judgment action, and we therefore reverse the summary judgment that the trial court rendered in Waller County’s favor. We remand the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss the County’s suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction after holding further proceedings for the limited purpose of awarding Holcomb his court costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, other expenses incurred in defending against the action as are equitable and just, and any other relief available under the Citizens Participation Act.
Waller County filed an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied the petition and ordered Waller County to pay costs to Terry Holcomb.
WALLER COUNTY, TEXAS v. TERRY HOLCOMB, SR. The Court denied review of the petition on August 31, 2018
I, BLAKE A. HAWTHORNE, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Texas, do hereby certify that the above is a true and correct copy of the orders of the Supreme Court of Texas in the case numbered and styled as above, as the same appear of record in the minutes of said Court under the date shown.
It is further ordered that petitioner, WALLER COUNTY, TEXAS, pay all costs incurred on this petition.
WITNESS my hand and seal of the Supreme Court of Texas, at the City of Austin, this the 15th day of October, 2018.
The Attorney General, Ken Paxton commended the action by the Supreme Court of Texas. From texasattorneygeneral.gov:
Attorney General Ken Paxton today commended the Texas Supreme Court after it left intact a state appellate court decision that sanctioned Waller County for suing a private citizen who complained that the county was unlawfully banning firearms from its government building.
“Today’s ruling represents a huge win for individual freedom, the First Amendment and the right of citizens to participate in government,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Waller County had to be stopped from using litigation to muzzle someone who simply called on it to stop violating state law. The Supreme Court’s decision should deter other Texas governments from similar conduct.”
Last March, the First Court of Appeals of Texas overturned a Waller County district court’s ruling, concluding that the county lacked jurisdiction to sue Terry Holcomb Sr., and that he had a constitutional right to ask the county in a letter to comply with Texas’ open carry laws – without fear of a retaliatory or meritless lawsuit. The attorney general’s office filed a brief in the case, arguing that it should be dismissed.
According to Terry Holcomb, he and his attorneys have yet to be paid. The case to determine payment is yet to be on the docket. The wheels of justice turn slowly.
The Texas Appeals Court and Texas Supreme Court found it wrong for a government body to sue a citizen who complained and asked them to follow the law.
It is astonishing that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas attempted to convince the upper courts that a county government could legitimately sue a citizen, simply because they asked the County to follow the law.
Potential tyrants live at every level of government. Terry Holcomb and patriots like him are needed to keep the tyrants in check.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.