Today's ruling by Judge Norinda Naranjo of the 419th District Court muddled an already muddled fight over a bunch of emails and text messages that likely do not exist. If Team Allala is claiming victory, it's only because the case wasn't closed and tossed into the trashcan.
My panel of eager attorneys weighed in this afternoon and their opinion is that no one really got anything. On one hand Allala gets to depose whoever she wants. On the other hand, the elected and city officials (both former and current) were granted two things:
1. The ability to go to the judge and prove they have some kind of "privilege" when it comes to personal contacts on any subject in any email. That means they can make a case that they don't have to answer any question relating to personal emails.
2. What Allala can ask is very narrowly focused on what they *know* and not what they *want to know*. Those are two very different things. Basically, Allala can only ask questions about emails they've seen, not ones they think are out there.
My panel of attorneys agreed that this makes life hard for Allala and friends when it comes to traditional deposition tricks. It also gears up a fight that is going to costs tens of thousands of dollars. The city's attorneys can play with these parameters for quite a long time until they basically get a set list of questions the deposed folks have to answer. This is a highly unusual set of circumstances from what I understand.
The key is here is that nobody really got anything. Allala gets to depose, but not ask the questions she wants. The city has to continue the fight and spend money, but not give anything up.
YOU lose because you have to pay for all of this. And on top of it, you still don't have a court order that would allow anyone to search Niland, Byrd, Ortega or Wilson's emails and texts. It's a dead end.
Well, for one the judge is pussyfooting around because this is a political issue. She doesn't want to get her ass handed to her by an appeals court so she is trying to avoid doing anything at all. She doesn't want her legacy hanging on this stupid case from El Paso that involves an extremely popular Texas Attorney General who is going to be an extremely popular Texas Governor pretty soon. And that brings me to another point none of you have considered.
The AG's office is a very political place. They perceive this fight to be between democrats and republicans. Obviously El Paso's entire elected establishment is democratic. The AG's office assumes this is a shot at the democratic establishment in El Paso and doesn't mind giving them hell. Little do they know that Allala is a democrat as well. Alshire has done a great job making sure this seems like a red vs blue game. Kudos to him for injecting politics where it is most effective - the judicial system. As far as the AG's office is concerned, they're putting to a bunch of corrupt democrats in that West Texas communist outpost called "El Paso."
Now, you are all saying, "but Hunt and Foster are republicans and friends with the governor so you are wrong!" I'm not wrong and you aren't wrong. Hunt and Foster are not the focus of Allala's wrath. She knows they did nothing wrong and sent no emails to private emails addresses. If she did think that, she'd be asking them for their depositions. No, Allala is fishing for the names of those private citizens who wanted to see the HOT pass. Most notably the author of a single email that posed questions about the notary public signatures on the ballpark petitions, which was been made public and was made public from day one. She wants to harass those two senior citizens. I know this because they keep focusing in on a single email. They've got nothing tying anyone else to anything other than that ONE SINGLE EMAIL. If you follow their paper trail you can see it.
Hunt and Foster aren't going to intervene with the Texas Republican establishment because none of this has anything to do with them. As far as they are concerned this is a fight between city council and a woman who wants to attack private citizens. No need for them to cash in their pull with the governor - both the current one and the future one.
Oh, and as for Steve Ortega claiming he has lots of city business on his private email - he's just screwing Allala and friends hoping they'll spend lots of money getting him to turn over emails that don't exist. Ortega has nothing to lose, hates Allala and doesn't have to pay for legal representation. I have on good authority that he has carefully plotted his moves to draw her in. If she can get to the point of getting a court order, it will only be after she's spent lots of personal money and time to do so and he'll let them see that there's nothing. Ortega is a sly fox!