Update on Pending Beckendorff, Pokluda and Kitzman Appeal

We have news on the pending appeal filed by Glenn Beckendorff, Frank Pokluda, and Stan Kitzman relating to the Waller County trial.

That appeal is entitled “GLENN BECKENDORFF, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS WALLER COUNTY JUDGE, FRANK POKLUDA, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS WALLER COUNTY PRECINCT TWO COMMISSIONER, AND STAN KITZMAN, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS WALLER COUNTY PRECINCT FOUR COMMISSIONER, Appellants v. CITY OF HEMPSTEAD, TEXAS, CITIZENS AGAINST THE LANDFILL IN HEMPSTEAD, AND PINTAIL LANDFILL, LLC, Appellees” in the First Court of Appeals in Houston. This appeal concerns the civil trial that was settled by all parties in February of 2015 after the jury verdict which found multiple open meetings violations. The ultimate agreed judgment invalidated the Host Agreement and the 2013 Waller County landfill ordinance No. 2013-001. Despite the settlement between Waller County and CALH, which waived all rights to appeal, Beckendorff, Pokluda, and Kitzman have sought to challenge the settlement and final judgment.

On March 11, 2016, the Houston Court of Appeals issued an order titled “MEMORANDUM ORDER OF REFERRAL TO MEDIATION.” This order requires the parties to participate in mediation on or before April 25, 2016, unless any party provides a written objection to the court by March 21st. Should all parties agree to mediation, a qualified mediator will be selected and approved by all parties before the mediation occurs. The mediator cannot force any party to settle. There is no requirement that an agreement be reached, but a good faith effort by all parties should be made. The mediation process and what takes place during a mediation is confidential. At the end of the mediation, the Court of Appeals will be notified whether the parties were able to reach a settlement of the issue on appeal. If no settlement is reached, then the Court of Appeals resumes review and consideration of the appeal.

Through this appeal, Beckendorff, Pokluda, and Kitzman have asked the Court of Appeals to order the trial court to remove their names from the final agreed judgment. The problem with that argument is that the actual names of Beckendorff, Pokluda, and Kitzman do not appear anywhere in the text of the judgment itself. CALH has asserted that the appeal by Beckendorff, Pokluda and Kitzman is frivolous because they are no longer elected officials and have no authority to appeal a lawful settlement entered into by subsequent elected officials. Because of fees incurred in defending the judgment on appeal, CALH has requested the Court of Appeals to award it attorneys fees.  The Order of Referral to Mediation comes at a time when the Court has granted CALH’s Motion to postpone filing a Response Brief until such time as the Court of Appeals rules on CALH’s Motion to Dismiss the frivolous appeal. Any agreement reached at a mediation would necessarily involve the dismissal of this frivolous appeal.

Any further news on this appeal will be reported as soon as possible.

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