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Preliminary injunction hearing set in Llano County library lawsuit

Kingsland Branch Library

The Kingsland Branch Library, 125 W. Polk St., is one of three libraries in the Llano County Library System. Facebook photo

A motion for a preliminary injunction that could return banned books to the shelves at Llano County libraries is Friday, Oct. 28, and Monday, Oct. 31, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, with Judge Robert Pitman presiding. The dates were set during a conference call Tuesday, Aug. 30, between lawyers for both sides and Judge Pitman. 

The preliminary injunction motion was filed May 9 by the plaintiffs in the Little et al v. Llano County et al federal civil suit. The suit charges defendants with violating the First and 14th amendment rights in the U.S. Constitution of Llano County residents by removing books and changing e-book services based on personal political beliefs.

If the judge grants the injunction, it would require the county to return books it removed from library shelves based on recommendations by the Llano County Library Advisory Board. It also might have to return to using the Overdrive, or Libby, e-book service. Llano County commissioners approved the switch to Biblioteca at a meeting on May 9. 

The hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction was set for two days at the request of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, who said they plan to call six witnesses. Plaintiffs are represented by Ellen V. Leonida of BraunHagey & Borden LLP of San Francisco. 

Leonida agreed to meet with the defendants’ attorneys, Jonathan Mitchell of Mitchell Law PLLC in Austin and Llano County Attorney Dwain Rodgers, to stipulate to deposition testimony before the hearing begins. Judge Pitman asked for the two parties to agree on the facts early in the process in hopes of possibly cutting the hearing to one day. 

Both sides agreed. 

“We don’t have many disagreements over the facts,” Mitchell said during the phone conference. “My understanding is there are disagreements over what the defendants’ motivation might have been in taking the actions that they did, but I don’t think there are any disputes over the actions that were taken.” 

suzanne@thepicayune.com