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Judge Hears Arguments In Lawsuit Over Arlington Term Limits

ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - The fight over Arlington's term limit amendment continued in court Tuesday, with a Tarrant County judge hearing arguments in a civil lawsuit.

Arlington resident Robert Johnson filed suit last month, claiming the amendment is illegal. On the other side, unlikely bedfellows: the City of Arlington and Zack Maxwell, the man who spearheaded the petition that put the issue on the ballot.

Maxwell was not originally named in the suit. He said he joined the case as an intervener because he didn't trust the city would fully defend the amendment.

Under the new amendment, two longtime city council members will not be allowed to run when their terms expire in May.

Johnson's attorneys say that wording in the amendment will also force out two other veteran members in May, even though their terms don't expire until 2020.

Johnson's attorneys say the amendment "does the exact opposite of what everyone was told" asked the judge to suspend the amendment until it can be fully litigated.

Attorneys for the City of Arlington told the judge that the amendment was "not intended" to truncate anyone's terms, and that suspending it is not necessary because no one with the city is interpreting the law that way.

Warren Norred, Maxwell's attorney, pointed out that the city isn't accepting applications for the terms that expire in 2020, so it's not possible for someone to run against those incumbents this year.

Norred called the suit "sham litigation" and told the judge Johnson was suing because he was upset over the election results.

Both sides noted Johnson signed the petition for term limits last year. Johnson says he didn't know any better and later voted against the measure.

The judge is expected to rule on the case in mid-February, just days before the deadline for candidates to file paperwork to run in May's election. Meanwhile the city is preparing to form a new term limits committee, indicating this fight is far from settled.

Voters approved term limits in last November's mid-term elections.


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