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Llano County hires attorney in library civil suit

Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell

Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell will represent Llano County in a civil lawsuit filed regarding its library system. Courtesy and staff photos

Defendants in the Llano County Library System civil suit now have an official lawyer to represent them. Jonathan F. Mitchell of Mitchell Law LLC in Austin filed an Appearance of Counsel for Case No. 1:22-cv-0424-RP on June 15. 

Mitchell is representing all of the defendants named in the lawsuit: Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham; commissioners Jerry Don Moss, Peter Jones, Mike Sandoval, and Linda Raschke; Library System Director Amber Milum; and Library Advisory Board members Bonnie Wallace, Rochelle Wells, Rhonda Schneider, and Gay Baskin. 

A hearing on a motion to issue an injunction in the case is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, July 7, in Judge Robert Pitman’s courtroom in Austin.

A former Texas solicitor general, Mitchell was a one-time clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He is known as the legal mind behind Texas’ most recent abortion law to evade judicial review so it could not be challenged before the Supreme Court.

The money to pay him was appropriated on June 13 when Llano County commissioners voted to use funds from two different budget-line items for legal representation in the case. The county’s miscellaneous contingency fund is providing $100,000 for attorney fees, while professional services will provide $50,000. 

The county also might receive help from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed a Motion to Intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of the defendants on June 8. 

The civil lawsuit was filed on April 25 in U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, Austin Division. In it, seven plaintiffs claim county officials violated their First Amendment rights by removing certain books from the library, changing e-book services, and naming a new Library Advisory Board with a political agenda. 

Plaintiffs are being represented by attorneys BraunHagey & Borden LLP. The firm filed a preliminary injunction against the Llano County Library System on May 9 asking that the removed books be replaced on library shelves and the Overdrive e-book service restored. 

The Texas Attorney General’s Office is listed as “intervenor-defendant” on a Motion to Dismiss the case.

As of publication deadline Tuesday, June 21, the judge had issued no rulings on any of the motions.  

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Little et. al. v. Llano County et. al., are Leila Green Little, Jeanne Puryear, Kathy Kennedy, Rebecca Jones, Richard Day, Cynthia Waring, and Diane Moster. All have issued official declarations supporting the Motion for Preliminary Injunction with the court.