The City of Dallas is spending a staggering $4,000 a day in its attempt to ban the sexually explicit convention known as Exxxotica, a lawsuit that has no apparent legal standing, says East Dallas Councilman Philip Kingston, who happens to be an attorney himself.
“I don’t see any way to win this thing,” Kingston told the Advocate, adding that he’s expecting a decision soon, possibly this week, from U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater on the preliminary injunction the convention filed to block the ban.
Lake Highlands representative Adam McGough backed Mayor Rawlings by supporting the ban, we are waiting for his response to our request for a comment on this story
First, there’s the issue of free speech. While people may not like Exxxotica’s message, that doesn’t give the city the right to block the tawdry event, which drew thousands of spectators to the city-owned Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center last August.
“That’s the strategy we should have followed, to lose quickly and easily,” Kingston says of the free speech argument Exxxotica’s attorneys are using to challenge the city’s ban.
The city’s legal team is led by Scott Bergthold and Tom Brandt after City Attorney Warren M.S. Ernst recused himself citing a conflict of interest because his statements questioning the legality of the ban were put on record, meaning he could be called as a witness if the case moves forward. Kingston says Bergthold and Brandt made a questionable move by arguing that the convention violates the city’s ordinance to regulate sexually oriented businesses (SOB).
The SOB was originally created to regulate where and how businesses like strip clubs can operate, and has been refined over time in a thoughtful and deliberate way, Kingston says. Bringing it into this lawsuit opens the door for the judge to throw out the entire ordinance for being applied in an unconstitutional way.
“Our own defense strategy has placed the viability of the SOB at risk,” he says. “It’s not likely, but [Fitzwater] could find the entire thing unconstitutional.”
The city’s own attorney previously told the City Council the ordinance applies to permanent businesses, not single events such as Exxxotica.
“Basically, this argument is going to fall flat on its face,” Kingston says.
But not without costing the taxpayers $245,000, an amount Kingston finds suspiciously high.
“You’re talking about a lot of money for the amount of work being done,” he says, adding that he plans to audit the case and ensure the money was spent judiciously.
Kingston says both the city and the Exxxotica are seekng a swift decision from Fitzwater. Exxxotica hoped to return next month, and can sue for additional damages if the ban is found illegal and the plaintiff can prove it lost revenue because it was not able to properly market their event.