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The lawsuit against Project Connect will likely be appealed before trial

Photo by Austin Transit Partnership

Friday June 14, 2024 by Jo Clifton

The Project Connect lawsuit, expected to go to trial on Monday, instead appears destined for appeal.

Assistant Attorney General Alyssa Bixby-Lawson, whose office is opposing efforts by the City of Austin and the Austin Transit Partnership to validate voter-approved bonds for Project Connect construction, has indicated that the Attorney General’s Office general will not proceed with the case on Monday.

In response to a question from lawyers for ATP and the city about whether they would appear in court on Monday as previously scheduled, Bixby-Lawson wrote: “If the judge takes this case and the trial begins without ruling on the plea of ​​the AG to the jurisdiction, we will immediately file the notice of appeal.”

Plaintiff taxpayers, represented by attorney Bill Aleshire, and the attorney general have argued throughout the case that the court lacked jurisdiction to decide the issue. While the AG and taxpayers have repeatedly asked Judge Eric Shepperd to rule on jurisdiction, ATP and the city have asked him not to.

Lawyers will appear in court on Monday morning, but it appears unlikely that any witnesses will be heard. If the judge rules that he has jurisdiction, the state can appeal, and if the judge does not rule, the state can appeal. If the judge says he has no jurisdiction, the city and ATP would likely appeal. Either way, it could be months before taxpayers hear the answer.

Aleshire wrote in an email to the city and ATP attorneys: “What a shame that Austin taxpayers are having to pay for the predicted massive waste of attorney fees in preparation for trial, in the absence of a timely decision on the viable plea of the AG for jurisdiction. But you got what you asked the judge for.”

Attorneys for the city and ATP said in an email to Bixby-Lawson that they had witnesses from out of town and should be able to notify them of the situation.

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