Incisive line at root of attorney’s Quiroga case request
By Ian White
A DENTIST’S visit is one reason behind a request for more time to prepare county judge Mark Henry’s appeal against a July ruling in a legal case instituted by district judge Lonnie Cox.
Attorney Terry Adams, who works for Houston law firm Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, filed the request on Wednesday, saying a nine-day extension “is necessary to provide the undersigned appellate counsel with adequate time to prepare a concise, well-reasoned appellant’s brief to assist the court. Additionally, the undersigned had to be out of the office on August 10 for a dental procedure.”
Whether or not that was tongue in cheek, Adams, who seems to be filling in on the case for a colleague who was appointed to it last month, added: “The requested extension of time is not made for delay but only so that justice may be done.”
Adams, an appeals specialist, admitted that that and his dental-treatment line had needled Cox’s attorney, Mark Stevens, to whom he had to give advance notice of his extended-time motion. In his request, he wrote that Stevens “has indicated that appellee [Cox] is opposed
to a motion for extension being granted”.
He was right. On Thursdsy, Stevens entered an objection to Adams’ motion in which he made it clear he was incensed by the call for more time.
Stevens and Cox have been claiming for some time that Henry and the county commissioners are doing everything they can just to stall the case, which began in September when Cox signed an order that the county’s termination of justice administration department director Bonnie Quiroga two months earlier had been illegal.
Stevens reiterated the claim in his 34-page response to Adams’ motion, telling the appeals court he would “ordinarily not bother the court with objections to a motion for extension” but that it is “not only a transparent attempt at tactical delay but outright financial extortion of one or more [Galveston] trial judges”.
That was a reference to a discussion during a workshop the commissioners held on Wednesday, in which they discussed the possibility of cutting county-court judges’ county-paid stipends to save money towards the cost of their legal fees.
A nine-day extension would return the appeal procedure almost to its original schedule, as Adams’ request is for a date four days before the brief-submission deadline originally set by the state’s first-district court of appeals, which sits in Houston.
As reported exclusively by The Post, that deadline, September 8, was later changed to Wednesday, August 26, but Adams’ motion asked for an extension until September 4.
In the appeal, Henry is seeking to overturn an order entered against him last month, when visiting judge Sharolyn Wood signed an injunction against him in the case and held that he must submit to a contempt-of-court trial in January.
The injunction ordered the county to reinstate Quiroga and barred the commissioners from breaking up the department or replacing her pending the January trial, when Henry will be asked to explain why he has failed to comply with Cox’s September order.
The commissioners believe that Cox’s ruling is itself illegal and it was their refusal to abide by it that led to his June application for the injunction and contempt-of-court trial.
Wood’s granting of the application in July stuck in the throat for the commissioners and they appealed immediately.
The appeals court, which had already twice rejected the commissioners’ attempts to overturn Cox’s declaration, responded by spitting out a mediation order but Stevens filed an objection, claiming the commissioners were merely trying to delay obeying the order for as long as possible.
Swallowing his pride, appellate judge Terry Jennings accepted the objection and dropped the mediation order, striking out September 8 as the deadline for the commissioners’ brief and ruling that they had only until Wednesday to file it.
By the time The Post went to press on Thursday, there was no word of whether the appeals court will grant the extension or give it the brush-off. Stevens will have 10 days from whichever date they decree in which to submit a counter brief.