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February 12, 2016

Exxxotica Hires Prominent Dallas Attorney to Sue City Over Shutout

DALLAS—Well, that was quick! It seems like just yesterday (well, maybe two days ago) that the Dallas City Council, at the instigation of Mayor Mike Rawlings (and prominent billionaires Ray Lee and Nancy Ann Hunt), voted 8-7 to direct the city manager to stop all contract negotiations with Three Expo Events, LLC, the company that puts on the various Exxxotica Lifestyle Conventions around the country, for an Exxxotica show at the city-owned Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. After the council held its vote, convention organizer J. Handy told reporters, "We’ll walk straight out of here and into our lawyer’s office." And apparently, that's exactly what he did. "The attorney who will handle Exxxotica's case is a familiar name: Roger Albright, the zoning attorney who has represented several sexually oriented businesses in cases filed by Dallas City Hall in recent years," reported Dallas Morning News City Hall Blog editor Robert Wilonsky. "Most recently, Albright defended Jaguars when the City Attorney’s Office tried to shutter the club after 15 people with ties to the Northwest Dallas strip club were arrested and indicted on federal charges for selling drugs out of the now-shuttered all-ages after-hours dance club housed inside. Albright managed to keep the place open, off Stemmons Freeway near Royal Lane, by agreeing to new management and a new name—Bucks Wild. Albright also represented Santa Fe Cabaret and other clubs close to two decade ago, when the city’s SOB ordinance was challenged in federal court." Albright will be filing a motion for a temporary injunction "seeking the immediate right for Exxxotica to take place as planned at the city-owned Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in May of 2016," said Handy earlier today. Handy's statement suggests that if the motion fails, a lawsuit against the city will follow shortly, since a May convention would give Exxxotica less than three months to sell its exhibit hall and arrange for guests, seminars and other activities its attendees will be expecting. "We obviously want to get the dates back and confirmed so we can move ahead," Handy said. "Every day that goes by, we're losing money, because we're unable to confirm exhibitors and sponsors." No one yet knows who'll be representing the city in the coming legal actions, because as Wilonsky reports, "it won’t be the Dallas City Attorney's Office, which told Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the city council last summer and again last week that banning the sex expo from the city-owned convention center was very likely a free-speech violation —'unconstitutional,' in the words of Dallas City Council member and attorney Scott Griggs." Several journalists and pundits in Dallas have weighed in on the controversy. "So what we had Wednesday was a pretty pure case," wrote Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer. "The event was fully legal. No evidence existed to show it caused any ancillary harm. But the mayor and his allies on the council didn’t want it to take place in the convention center, anyway, because of their feelings about sex. And more to the point, they wanted the rest of us to hear all about their feelings about sex. "Ick," he added. "You may have heard some of your right-of-center friends pronounce themselves 'constitutional conservatives'...," wrote Mike Hashimoto, the "conservative" on the Dallas Morning News's editorial board. "I agree. But a 'constitutional conservative' argues that the entire document, words on paper and their interpretations, means something, not a picking-and-choosing of what we like and ignoring what we don’t. "The free speech part of the First Amendment, then, means something," he continued. "What you find objectionable, whether you disagree, is immaterial. Like porn, find it abhorrent, that’s up to you. Betting city money on an extralegal moral crusade doomed to constitutional purgatory is something else entirely." But no matter the outcome of the court hearings, the real losers will be the citizens of Dallas, whose taxes will be used to, first, pay an attorney to represent the city, and secondly, to pay the damages and/or fines, court costs and attorney fees to Albright when the city loses. Perhaps of interest: According to Wilonsky, Handy found Albright through a recommendation from Free Speech Coalition, who said the attorney was "highly recommended" by FSC.

 
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