ESD Trial Begins Today

All’s quiet in County Law Courtroom No. 1 for now, but if the pre-trial antics are any indication, the civil lawsuit against the Episcopal School of Dallas will be spirited.

The suit, brought by a family known as John and Jane Doe, is related to a teacher’s alleged affair with a student.

The trial begins at 9 a.m., and I’ll be posting updates as often as I can. For the unabridged version, pick up the July 29 edition of Preston Hollow People.

UPDATE 8:55 a.m.

Judge D’Metria Benson asks both sides if they are ready, Charla Aldous, representing the family, says “ready.” ESD’s lead attorney, Chrysta Castaneda, says “Not ready.”

UPDATE 9:15 a.m.

ESD offers up an official “motion for continuance,” which it claims was filed July 19. There is no electronic record of it on the docket, and the judge seems surprised to hear it has existed for nearly a week.

ESD says the reason for the motion is that several “key witnesses” will not be available for 1 to 2 weeks. Aldous says the plaintiffs are willing to call witnesses out of order if it will prevent a continuance. Judge says she’ll wait to rule on this motion until all other pre-trial motions are presented.

UPDATE 9:40 a.m.

Still hearing pre-trial motions. First motion by the plaintiffs was granted. It excludes any evidence relating to the parents’ responsibility in preventing the sexual assault of their daughter.

UPDATE 10:06 a.m.

Court reporter’s cell phone goes off, prompting the judge to tell everyone to silence and put away their cell phones and other electronics. Use is now forbidden, and thus I am standing just outside the courtroom for this update. Live-blogging is about to get a lot less frequent.

UPDATE 12:05 p.m.

The court recessed for lunch after hearing more than 50 pre-trial motions.

Some of the more interesting rulings included:

Statements about the Doe’s financial status will not be allowed, however similar information about ESD will be permitted as long as the school’s own attorneys “open the door.”

Reference to a former ESD employee, who the plaintiffs said was recently terminated for making sexual remarks to a student, will be allowed. Brent Walker quoted the former employee, who himself is not implicated in this lawsuit, as saying: “I like the way that dress looks on you. It makes my pants feel fun.”

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.

The court opened with state Sen. Royce West bringing a motion to “quash the trial subpoena of J. Nathan Campbell.” Aldous said the plaintiffs “had made the decision not to call Campbell,” who is currently under a felony indictment for sexual assault.

UPDATE 2 p.m.

Watching attorneys nod off and fighting the urge myself as the post-lunch proceedings get underway.

UPDATE 2:33 p.m.

The court is now hearing objections to items of evidence. Both sides have lengthy lists. There’s a chance we won’t even get through them all today.

EDITOR’S NOTE 3:20 p.m.

Dan Koller here. We interrupt this live blog to inform you that Judge Benson has called a brief recess, apparently because of the very post you are reading right now. We likely won’t be updating this again today. Check back in the morning for a new post.

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