Gay Dallas couple arrested at marriage sit-in announces legal team

Posted on 23 Jul 2012 at 12:00pm

From left, Dax Garvin, Mark “Major” Jiminez, Beau Chandler, Kim Butler.

 

Mark “Major” Jiminez and Beau Chandler introduced their legal team to supporters on July 21. The couple hired their attorneys ahead of Aug. 2 hearings in their cases.

Attorneys Dax Garvin and Kim Butler will lead their defense team.

The couple was arrested for criminal trespass on July 5 after applying for a marriage license and refusing to leave the County Records Building when they were denied.

Garvin is a Travis County attorney who also represents three people arrested for a similar action in Austin on Valentine’s Day.

Butler is a Fort Worth attorney who specializes in same-sex families and criminal misdemeanors. She said the case is important to her because her interracial marriage would have been illegal before the Loving v. Virginia case.

GetEQUAL state lead Michael Diviesti said Aug. 2 is the anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence and called for action across Texas. He said he hoped to see protests, picketing and rallies in front of city halls or marriage bureaus. GetEQUAL has called the charges excessive.

Jiminez said that in Dallas, supporters will rally in front of the County Records Building at 8 a.m. and march to the Frank Crowley Courts Building ahead of the 8:30 a.m. hearings. The couple are scheduled in separate courts at the same time.

Garvin said the Aug. 2 hearing will be brief and Jiminez and Chandler may not enter their pleas at that time. He called these hearings “cattle calls.”

He said that the Dallas district attorney’s strategy probably will be to downplay the marriage equality aspect of the case and focus entirely on the trespassing charge.

“The DA will want as little bias toward our side as possible,” Garvin said. “Jurors must be willing to consider the full range of penalties.”

He said that they will turn down any offer of a settlement short of complete dismissal of charges — and demand a jury trial.

Once jurors are chosen for the panel of six, all Garvin and Butler need to do is convince one of them not to convict. In jury selection, if the DA questions whether potential jurors are gay or lesbian or have close friends or family members who are, they expect the prosecution to run out of its three pre-emptory dismissals quickly.

Since the couple will be tried separately, they pointed out, it is possible that one could be convicted and the other acquitted or one could receive a jail sentence and the other a small fine.

Once on the docket, the attorneys said they hope the trial would occur within six months, but said the process could take up to three years.

Garvin also reached out to any law students or anyone writing law journal articles to assist on the case.

“We could use you,” he said.

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments