Judge denies HISD trustee a place on primary ballot in JP race

Diana and Abel Davila
Diana Davila with her husband Abel

HOUSTON — Amidst claims of illegal signature gathering and improper mailers in an East End justice of the peace race, a visiting senior judge ruled against a Houston Independent School Board trustee in her suit against the county Democratic Party for rejecting her application to be on the primary ballot.

HISD Trustee’s Diana Davila’s lawsuit, filed last week, stated that she had submitted a petition to the Harris County Democratic Party containing 310 signatures that would qualify her to be on the ballot, but had omitted printing the name of the person circulating the petitions in an affidavit on a single line at the bottom of each petition.

The Democratic Party chairwoman rejected many of the signatures on that count. She said that she could not decipher the names registered as those collecting the signatures and said Davila could not be on the ballot.

Judge J.D. Langley conceded in a Thursday court hearing that may be a technicality, but said he was hesitant to upend the election process or reverse the Democratic Party chairwoman.

“The court should stay away from it,” Langley said.

He also cited state statute that he interpreted as Davila having passed the deadline to amend her forms.

Langley was sympathetic to Davila, he said.

“There’s nothing fair in politics is what I’ve learned,” Langley said.

The court fight was over the race for justice of the peace Precinct 6, Place 2.

With no chance for Davila to be on the ballot, that leaves Angela Rodriguez — daughter of Armando Rodriguez, who is retiring from that justice of the peace seat — as the sole choice on the March ballot.

In heavily Democratic Harris County Precinct 6, the March primary generally serves as the de facto general election.

Davila’s attorney, Keith Gross, contended throughout the trial that his client’s signature pages were notarized and legal. He stated the collector’s name were on the pages, simply not on the bottom of the page. There is no law, he said, that states the name needs to be on the bottom of the page.

“Are they trying to win an election by circumventing the election code?” Gross asked the court. “They are trying to prevail on a technicality so [Rodriguez] can win an election without a vote of the people. That’s just wrong.”

Rodriguez’s attorney, Joe Matta, argued that Davila knew the rules of collecting signatures and should have followed them.

Indeed, he said, Davila had run for this position in the past and should have doubled down on knowing the election rules.

“This was not her first rodeo,” Matta said. “It’s mind boggling to see all these pages and and blank spaces in the space where it was required.”

Matta also found an individual on one of Davila’s signature pages who said he never signed it and said that the signature on Davila’s form was not his.

Carlos Rodriguez
Carlos Rodriguez

He is Rodriguez’s uncle, Carlos Rodriguez.

“I’ve never seen her in all my life,” Carlos Rodriguez said when Davila was pointed out to him. “Never.”

He turned to the judge and added: “My mother always told me, ‘Always respect the flag; always respect the law.’ I’m trying to be as honest as I can, judge.”

Matta also presented a Feliz Navidad mailer that Davila had sent to voters that he said broke election law rules. He said the mailer suggested that Davila was already a justice of the peace.

Davila Feliz Navidad mailer

The judge did not rule on any of those claims.

Gross said that Davila was unlikely to appeal.

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.


  1. Davila’s are a corrupt couple! I use to know them and saw with my own eyes. Trust me – she broke the rules on purpose. Google “Dávila, HISD, HCC, E-Rate, Larry Marshall…” I think it’s HILARIOUS that she is trying to become a JP!!! LOL!!! What a joke!! It’s all about money and power. She step down from HISD bc the feds we’re getting closer and closer to investigation them…which they did and they left town for several years.

  2. Don Weddle get your facts straight : Houston’s economy $420 Billion annually is greater than most countries and third in the US second only to LA and NY ( both DEM states) Houston will bypass CHICAGO as the 3rd most populace city by July 2018. We are the #1 international city ( cattle, oil, bio-tech, computer tech, medicine ,aeronautics and agriculture) with regards to citizens and investment dollars. The port of Houston is the second largest recipient of imported goods coming into America and if it leaves our country it will probably pass through here too. We are #1 ranked city in medical research and our medical center is the largest in the world. We are #1 globally in Petti-chemicals ( even if they downsize they come home to Houston, we launched a space program that is alive and feeds the aeronautics industry in other states like California and Boeing) our farming and ranching industry in texas assists in keeping the economy of other cities like Detroit ( through machine and truck sales, California through alternative fuel sources ( corn ) the New York garment manufacturing industry where we supply 77% of the cotton used in the textiles ( even if they get sent to China or Mexico) a majority of the oil in our nation passes thru the west side of our ship channel to be shipped internationally. so if you could do us all a great big Favor. When you go to your class reunion in Vernon Texas (Birth place of the great Roy Orbinson) and tell your Government / Free enterprise teacher ( which I’m sure was taught double duty by a coach) that you would have appreciated a little more substance in your Education that would help you refrain from referring to an open free society where business and people of all races and religion and multiple businesses can thrive in a 2.3 million population environment have a lower cost of living than the top 10 big cities, is tropical year round, the people are extraordinarily friendly, and we will even sit down and take the time to visit with you in a positive way about how referring to a multicultural, balanced society that is all inclusive in the negative way you did…. says more about you than it does Houston.

    • Robert Brophy houston is very diversified, yes we are the oil and gas capital, but we are the livestock capital, agriculture, largest port, largest international medical center , its location and size offers it major transportation hub, it feeds imports and exports entering the United States for the southern Midwest to the world. And through aeronautics from land to space.

    • Lisa Jordan Dupree yes everyone yells “we’re broke” that’s basically why we voted back in civil servant pensions on the last ballot vote. Not to panic, it doesn’t absorb any old monies it all comes from new taxes. But over that a lot of our cool infrastructure (Discovery Green, Memorial Park, Eleanor Tinsley park, Hermann Park, The Theatre District ).these things are created and funded by non profit groups but the grounds and building maintenance are done through the city. So hopefully with a diversified economy, investment from corporate and private sector and just utilize city funds for maintenance .

    • With all Houston successes, non of them are because of the democrat party. Houston’s successes make it a bigger target for democrat/business big government predators. $420 billion annually and the jack boots want their cut. Referencing Chicago does nothing for your argument. Crime, murder, corruption. Obama referred to it with a grin as the Chicago Way. Detroit was thriving and successful. Venezuela, very successful. Crashed by government debt and taxes is the liberal playbook. The Houston ISD real estate property taxes are ridiculous. But that’s the democrat legal predator profiteers. HISD issued bonds in the tune of .89 billion dollars just a few years ago. Track the millions to each school HISD put in their schoolyard electric signs. Lamar high school. $100 million. If they had a 100 rooms, that would be a million dollars per room. Debt that will never be retired. Just like the City of Houston. Buried in debt to bond holders, keeping the rich, rich while everyone pays them in taxes. Everyone pays, renters and owners alike. Renters don’t know why rents are so high and unaffordable. HISD and City property taxes. Democrat city. Spend spend, welfare, borrow, borrow. If Houston’s so rich, why can’t HISD and the city run on our taxes? Why do they have to borrow money? Your statistics do nothing for your argument.

    • Don’t forget the real estate industry that thrives on turning property due to excess taxation. Land developers, builders, mortgage companies bank on citizens eternal debt, inflation and never paying off a property. HCAD reevaluates and the elderly, poor and those on fixed incomes must sell. Disgusting. Homeless, and the young are out. Many in the street. Real estate industry crushes our society and they partner with the government and politicians to target every piece of equity individually owned. Anyone normal person cannot save up for a house. Housing bubble, Subprime debacle, Barney Frank threatening lenders to make loans to unqualified, 30 year mortgages, variable rate mortgages, Freddie Mac $5 Billion overstatement, Obama’s government finance take over adding incendiary inflation causing cash by government mortgage finance just like the student loans. The class disparity creation by crushing mortgage and student loan debt by the government is attached to democrat financial predator behavior.

    • 1. Houston has typically had a strong democratic base and leadership even the mayors who ran Republican were left leaning in their party.chicago is a reference point purely as a growth point based on ear marks on the Residential and employment growth in our area. Detroit was thriving and successful and was not bailed out until obama and they rebounded paid the money back. The dough bag bankers took the same bailouts gave themselves a raise and after electing Trump repealed Dodd Frank that put seniors and elderly in a situation where they could be taken advantage of and literally have the title of their homes stolen out from under them. You have no clue what anyone’s “playbook is” you have no clue how to set up your own face book page so I’m not even sure you are anything more than you like a teenage Asian golfer and T


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