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No outside counsel hired for Llano County library civil suit

Llano County Commissioners Court May 12, 2022

The Llano County Commissioners Court held a five-minute meeting Thursday, May 12, to discuss hiring outside counsel due to a civil lawsuit filed against the county. Commissioners voted to remove the one and only agenda item from the special meeting. Seated are commissioners Jerry Don Moss (left) and Linda Raschke, County Judge Ron Cunningham, and commissioners Peter Jones and Mike Sandoval. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

The Llano County Commissioners Court voted to remove the one and only item on the special meeting agenda Thursday, May 12, after a brief statement from Llano County Attorney Dwain Rogers. The meeting was called to discuss hiring outside counsel to handle a civil lawsuit filed against the county, its library system director, and the Library Advisory Board. 

The suit was filed April 25 claiming county officials violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights laid out in the First Amendment by removing books from the library shelves and changing its e-book reader service. The suit claims that books are being banned from the county’s library system based on the individual beliefs of the defendants, stifling access to information.

“I think we have made arrangements that will not require any expenditure of resources,” Rogers said. “You can pull the item.”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Don Moss made a motion to remove Item No. 1 from the agenda. Precinct 3 Commissioner Mike Sandoval seconded, and all voted in favor. The meeting was then adjourned after about five minutes. 

Both Rogers and Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham declined to comment on the county’s next steps because of pending litigation. 

A preliminary injunction request was filed with U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman in Austin on Monday, May 9. If the injunction is granted, Llano County libraries would be required to return the books removed from their shelves and possibly reinstate use of the OverDrive e-book service. 

The civil suit was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Leila Green Little, Jeanne Puryear, Kathy Kennedy, Rebecca Jones, Richard Day, Cynthia Waring, and Diane Moster, all of whom are Llano County residents and users of the library system. They are represented by legal teams from law firms BraunHagey & Borden in California and Wittliff Cutter in Austin.

Named individual as defendants are Cunningham; county Commissioners Moss, Peter Jones, Linda Raschke, and Mike Sandoval; library system Director Amber Milum; and Library Advisory Board members Gay Baskin, Bonnie Wallace, Rochelle Wells, and Rhonda Schnieder.