Judge in Dallas Alcohol Lawsuit Won't Stop Permit Issuance

Permits to sell beer and wine will continue to flow in parts of Dallas that were formerly dry.

A Fannin County District judge appointed to hear a lawsuit over the city's recent alcohol election rejected a request to stop the new alcohol permits from being issued until the suit is resolved.

Judge Laurine Blake ruled Tuesday that she doesn't have the jurisdiction to suspend implementation of Proposition 1.

Dallas voters overwhelming approved the measure, which allows citywide beer and wine sales in grocery and convenience stores, in November. The city was previously a patchwork of wet and dry areas.

A coalition of liquor stores and South Dallas pastors that opposed the election filed the lawsuit. Attorneys fighting the measure said businesses with permits in formerly dry areas could continue to see beer and wine if the election is voided because the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said it would not cancel their permits.

The group filed suit in November to have the election results overturned. The lawsuit questions the authenticity of the signatures on the petition that led to the election.

The Texas 5th District Court of Appeals in August rejected an earlier challenge to the referendum by the group. The coalition also questioned the number of signatures in that suit, but the appeals court declined to intervene in the election.

Attorney Leland De La Garza said Tuesday that the group opposed to Proposition 1 also believes that each dry area should have had its own election instead of participating in a citywide vote.

However, according to the Texas Secretary of State's website, elections to reverse the wet or dry status of an annexed area must be decided in a citywide vote.

Attorneys opposed to Proposition 1 will meet with the city and the judge again on Jan. 31 to finalize the pretrial hearings. The trial date is not set but is expected to be held in the spring or summer.

The lawsuit does not include another alcohol-related measure that voters approved in November. Proposition 2 eliminated the requirement that restaurants in dry areas operate as private clubs to sell alcohol.

NBCDFW's Kim Fischer contributed to this report.

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