Texas AG Paxton’s Emergency Motion for Restraining Order in El Paso raises major legality issues with respect to Montgomery County Judge Keough’s March COVID Orders, along with other local officials

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, whose COVID-19 mandates in March are now in serious question with respect to their legality.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, El Paso, and Austin, November 4 – In March, and particularly on March 27, 2020, in his panicked response to the Chinese Coronavirus scare, based upon reports without any basis he had received from so-called public health agencies, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough ordered a mandatory lockdown in Montgomery County, closed businesses (other than car dealerships, liquor stores, and others he favored), ordered the closure of church services, and even issued a curfew order. Keough even threatened Montgomery County citizens with fines and jail time for violating his orders, which he issued without Commissioners Court approval or approval of any legislative body.

On October 29, 2020, another left-leaning County Judge, Richard Samaniego of El Paso County, issued similar orders to those of Keough in his so-called “Executive Order 13” (EO-13) which purports to order El Paso County residents “to temporarily stay at home or at their place of residence.” Like Keough’s mandates, EO-13 imposes a curfew on El Paso County residents “from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.” EO-13 provides limited exceptions for people and businesses engaged in “essential services” or “essential activities,” and closes all other businesses and facilities deemed “non-essential” just like Keough’s March 16, 2020, and March 27, 2020, Orders, which threw tens of thousands of Montgomery County residents into unemployment and an inability to pay their family’s financial obligations.

Yesterday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton finally struck back at those illegal local government mandates in an emergency motion requesting a temporary restraining order he filed in the 34th District Court of El Paso County.

In Paxton’s Motion for Emergency Temporary Restraining Order in the case against Judge Samaniego, Paxton declared, “County judges and mayors do not have independent authority to issue emergency orders carrying the force and effect of law, as this is not one of the powers granted to such local officials under section 418.108.” Keough claimed to issue his illegal mandates in March under Section 418.108 of the Texas Government Code just as Samaniego did.

Paxton also noted in his legal briefing that Samaniego’s orders conflict with Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order GA-32, as Governor Abbott is the sole Texas official who may issue mandatory orders under Section 418.108 of the Texas Government Code.

Ten El Paso area businesses are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Samaniego. They consist of local pizza parlors, restaurants, and drinking establishments with whom Paxton has sided in their lawsuit to stop any enforcement of Samaniego’s illegal orders.

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