A former candidate for the Harris County Precinct 3 constable position who filed a lawsuit against the two candidates who made the runoff election has instructed his attorney’s to stop the suit.
Jasen Rabalais, chief deputy over community services and the Harris County Joint Task Force for Precinct 3 constable, had filed a lawsuit against two other candidates after a hard-fought Democratic primary race, citing alleged voter fraud. A tentative trial date was set for Wednesday in the Harris County 164th District Civil Court, but it never got that far.
The runoff candidates — Sherman Eagleton and Michel Pappillion — were the top two vote-getters after battling for the Democratic nomination against seven others for the
constable position. Out of the 18,000 votes cast, Eagleton received 3,678 votes, about 800 more than Pappillion and Rabalais. Pappillion received a total of 37 more votes than Rabalais, putting him in a showdown against Eagleton in a runoff election May 24.
“We completed our review of the documents yesterday and concluded that the evidence did not reach the threshold needed to move forward,” said Mike Stafford, Rabalais’ attorney. “Our client, therefore, instructed us to non-suit the case, which we did.”
Stafford added that the information received by Rabalais, which indicated possible outcome-determinative rules violations, had to be checked out.
“We did that,” Stafford said. “It is now time to move forward with the election process.”
The suit alleged that a campaign worker for Pappillion has “deliberately falsified, illegally completed or unlawfully influenced the ballots and early voting applications of elderly residents in Harris County.” Rabalais had hoped to prove this was a calculated move on the Pappillion campaign’s part and that this materially changed the primary election’s outcome. However, with the case being non-suited, Eagleton and Pappillion will now face off in the runoff election.
The winner of the runoff election will go up against Republican Dan Webb for the position.
Pappillion was pleased to hear the decision.
“I expected I would be vindicated in the courtroom if we had gone to trial,” Pappillion said. “I can respect the decision they made. I have a lot of respect for (Precinct 3 Constable) Ken Jones and Mr. Rabalais. I’m glad this is behind us, and my focus now is to have debates and forums with Eagleton to give voters a comparison between the two of us.”
Jones, the longtime constable for the precinct, has announced his retirement at the end of this current term. He endorsed Rabalais for the job during this year’s primary election cycle.
Lee Kaplan, the attorney who represented Eagleton in the case, said they were happy to have the suit out of the way.
“We are glad Mr. Rabalais has dismissed his lawsuit and now Mr. Eagleton can focus on the upcoming runoff election without any distractions,” Kaplan said.
April 25 is the last day to register to early vote for the runoff election. Early voting for the runoff election begins on Monday, May 16 through Friday, May 20.