An Aug. 10 court hearing in the ongoing Llano County library system civil suit was canceled after the plaintiffs and defendants reached an agreement on disputed discovery matters.
U.S. District Judge Mark Lane rendered the plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel as moot once the parties filed a Joint Notice in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, on the same day the hearing was scheduled.
“The parties have met and reached agreement on each of the disputed discovery matters as described in the Joint Notice,” Lane wrote in his order. “The court wants to commend the parties for doing so and thank the parties for their willingness to compromise.”
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, who is assigned the case, referred the Motion to Compel decision to Judge Lane on Aug. 3.
The case of Little et al v. Llano County et al is set for a jury trial on Oct. 23, 2023. Plaintiffs have charged Llano County commissioners, certain members of the Llano County Library Advisory Board, and library system Director Amber Milum with removing books from library shelves that the defendants deemed offensive, thus violating the First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights of library patrons.
The two documents sought by the plaintiffs in discovery were a list of the books removed by the defendants from the shelves of Llano County libraries and a list of books that have not been removed, despite the fact that they have not been checked out for three years.
Defendants argued in a Motion to Dismiss the suit that all of the books removed met standard “weeding” procedures used by libraries everywhere, the main reason being lack of interest. Books that have not been checked out for three years are considered of no interest to library patrons and are often removed.
The plaintiffs argued in a motion that the two documents “will confirm (the defendants’) campaign of viewpoint discrimination.”
The motion went on to point out that the two documents “challenge (the defendants’) supposedly ‘legitimate’ basis for seeking the books identified in the plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction.”
The court ordered the two parties to participate in a “meet and confer” to resolve the dispute without any further court intervention. They were given until Aug. 10, the date of the hearing, to do so.
Defendants produced the two documents on Aug. 8 and a Joint Notice was filed the next day, leading to the cancelation of the 2 p.m. hearing set for Aug. 10.
The next major deadline in the case is an attempt to reach a settlement without a trial.
On Sept. 22, both parties must assert claims for relief by submitting a written offer of settlement to each other. The next day, the plaintiffs and defendants must each file a report on alternative dispute resolutions in compliance with Local Rule CV-88k alternative dispute resolution.
On Sept. 29, opposing parties must respond to the settlement offers in writing.
A request to the plaintiffs’ counsel for the list of books removed and the number of books not removed despite not having been checked out in three years was not answered as of this story’s publication.