On Friday, the federal lawsuit over the Dallas’ city council district map died a quiet death. According to a single-page filing, plaintiffs Renato de los Santos and Hilda Ramirez Duarte — who claimed in a July lawsuit that the recently redrawn council map discriminates against the city’s Latinos by diluting their voting strength — said they “no longer wish to pursue their claims” against the city. Their attorneys, and those representing the city of Dallas, have signed off on the Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice, which means the case can’t be refiled. And so, just like that, what had been expected to be a contentious, drawn-out and expensive battle over the city’s district boundaries is no more.
San Antonio civil rights attorney Rolando Rios says his clients dropped the case “to focus on the upcoming elections.” Just last month Rios asked the court to bar the city from using the map for the May 2013 elections, during which incumbents Scott Griggs and Delia Jasso will have to square off against each other in the newly drawn District 1 in North Oak Cliff. A hearing on that request for a preliminary injunction had been scheduled for January 3.
Rios says his clients didn’t want to “disrupt the whole election process,” which is one reason why they dropped the suit. Also, he says, going forward with the suit would have been a decidedly expensive proposition, as evidenced by the fact that in September, the city council OK’d spending up to $350,000 to hire two outside law firms — Farrow-Gillespie & Heath LLP and Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta — to mount its defense.
“The city has endless resources and can bury a case like this,” Rios says.
City attorneys weren’t available today, but sources familiar with the suit say they believe Renato de los Santos, among the League of United Latin American Citizens’ local leaders, and Hilda Ramirez Duarte “didn’t think they were going to win the case — that’s it.”