Lisa Uresti-Dasher, a Democratic candidate for 285th District Judge, will remain on the primary ballot after a judge in Bexar County on Wednesday denied a request for a temporary injunction.
The virtual hearing, which lasted nearly six hours over two days, was held weeks after Uresti-Dasher’s opponent in the primary, Nadine Nieto, filed a lawsuit seeking to have Uresti-Dasher removed from the ballot.
The suit, filed Dec. 17, accused Uresti-Dasher of having multiple discrepancies on her sworn application for the position, including using two versions of her name: Lisa Uresti-Dasher and Lisa Uresti Dasher, and not providing accurate information about her years of residency in Texas and Bexar County.
Uresti-Dasher, a local attorney, is the daughter of Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Albert Uresti and the niece of disgraced former Texas state senator Carlos Uresti, who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for federal fraud and money laundering convictions.
“I acquired Uresti by law, I acquired Dasher by marriage. Nowhere in the (election) code have I ever seen that you cannot put a hyphen between the two, sir,” said Uresti-Dasher while being questioned by Nieto’s attorney.
When later questioned by her attorney about her name, Uresti-Dasher testified that there has been no confusion on the campaign trail about what her name is.
Uresti-Dasher’s campaign signs, which are already in place throughout much of Bexar County, contain the familiar green and white color scheme used by other members of her family who have run for public office.
“The request today from Mr. Barrett (Nieto’s attorney) is to take Ms. Uresti-Dasher off the ballot. This court is not inclined to do so,” said visiting Judge John Gabriel, while issuing his ruling.
Gabriel agreed to hear the case Tuesday after several other civil court judges recused themselves.
Gabriel also denied an alternate request from the plaintiff to have Uresti-Dasher’s name appear on the ballot without a hyphen. He then wished both candidates good luck and ended the proceeding.
While the first day of the hearing was hampered by multiple technical issues, bad audio and feedback, day two included repeated squabbling by the lead attorneys for both candidates.
At one point, Nieto’s attorney, Roy Barrett, accused Uresti-Dasher’s attorney, Andrew Toscano, of “battering and badgering conduct.”
“I know you don’t want us bothering you. But you’re bothering us, you’re bothering us,” Toscano said to Barrett, before being interrupted by Gabriel.
Toscano added that he believed the questioning of Uresti-Dasher, which stretched well over an hour, was a waste of judicial resources, redundant and irrelevant.
“It’s an attempt from Mr. Barrett to embarrass my client. He knows the press is here,” said Toscano.
Attorneys for Uresti-Dasher previously acknowledged inaccurate information was included on her application for judge, but have pushed back on the characterization that she swore to “false” information.
Toscano released the following statement on behalf of Uresti-Dasher Wednesday afternoon:
“She is disappointed that her opponent has decided to run her campaign at the courthouse rather than among the voters of our county; she feels vindicated that the judge dismissed the claims of the plaintiff without having to mount a defense and looks forward to presenting her candidacy to the Bexar county voters, the true judges of the character and qualifications of its judiciary.”
Nieto issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
“I am disappointed about what this decision means for the integrity of Bexar County elections, but I am unshaken as we move forward with this campaign. Over the course of this hearing, it was troubling that Ms. Lisa Uresti Dasher revealed she could not understand the simple question around her residency on the ballot application. She was also confoundingly unable to recall the year of her marriage, her parents’ middle name, and any of her home addresses while residing in Harris County. This certainly makes me question her ability to handle the powers and duties of any Judicial role.”
Early voting for the March 1 primary is scheduled to begin February 14, according to the Texas Secretary of State.