Harris County, Public Interest Legal Foundation reach agreement, end lawsuit

Restorative Justice

By April Bamburg | Mar 26, 2020

Harris County and the Public Interest Legal Foundation have settled their lawsuit.

A lawsuit against Harris County is over after the county and the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), an Indianapolis-based organization, reached a settlement. The federal district court in Houston entered the settlement agreement March 17, 2020.

J. Christian Adams, head of PILF and an attorney, sued Harris County in 2018 following testimony in front of the Texas House of Representatives, by Mike Sullivan, a former voter registrar. Adams and PILF sought lists of individuals removed from voter rolls who were disqualified from jury duty as non-citizens and those who were removed for questions about eligibility. 

The county agreed to provide lists of individuals removed from voter rolls because they weren’t U.S. citizens, as well as documented communications between law enforcement and the county voter registration office. They also provided records going back to 2013 that included copies of registration applications where the citizenship information was left blank.

Over a seven-year period, Harris County examined nearly 1,000 voter registrations based on individuals’ citizenship, said Douglas Ray, a special assistant with the Harris County Attorney’s Office, in an article published by the Houston Chronicle.

“We’re providing to them all the voter registrations whose registration was successfully challenged on the basis,” Ray told the Chronicle. “They wanted us to give un-redacted versions of every file that’s been given to us on this person. We felt like there’s certain information they’re not entitled to and we didn’t want to un-redact it.”

Ray represented Harris County in the lawsuit, and said the county would not provide personal information such as phone numbers and Social Security numbers. They also objected to providing jury summons responses from individuals who responded and said that they were not citizens. Instead, they shared their own analyses of this information and the voter rolls.

Adams served in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department and was part of the Trump administration’s election integrity commission.

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