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Updated: Federal Judge Lifts City's Ban Against Cuellar

Chris Eudaily

* This is an update on an episode of "The Source" that aired in early January, Banned From City Hall. In order to provide some background on this latest development we are airing the original episode for the March 27 edition of "The Source."

(Update: March 27, 2:16 p.m.) The City of San Antonio lost in federal court today in its effort to permanently ban a former city employee from going to City Hall and attending city council meetings.

After a morning hearing, Federal Judge Xavier Rodriguez ruled immediately from the bench that the city’s ban against Michael Cuellar would be lifted and he was allowed to enter city facilities – similar to that of other members of the public.

Rodriguez noted in his ruling that the city didn’t have any police reports to support the claim that Cuellar is dangerous. 

City Attorney Michael Bernard said he still considers Cuellar a dangerous person that should not be allowed to attend council meetings. San Antonio Police Chief William McMannus said he would beef up security at the meetings because of Cuellar’s presence.

Cuellar’s attorney from the Texas Civil Right’s project called the allegations against Cuellar a concocted character assassination.

(Original Post: March 26) The case involving the City of San Antonio's banning of residents from City Hall and City Council goes to federal court on Wednesday.

In late August 2012, former San Antonio employee Michael Cuellar was given a letter from City Attorney Michael Bernard and Police Chief William McManus permanently banning him from going to City Hall and  city council meetings.

They claimed that Cuellar and another local citizen, John Foddrill, were both exhibiting "threatening behavior." 

The two men were told that if they went to a city council meeting they would be immediately arrested for criminal trespass - imprisoned up to six months and fined $2,000.

Cuellar said the ban is the result of his successful ethics complaints against city hall and is a violation of his constitutional rights. He said it is broad and vague – provides no means of appeal and zero transparency - since the city has no written policy about banning individuals from city council.

Cuellar is being represented by the Texas Civil Rights Project, which is seeking a preliminary injunction to suspend the city’s indefinite banning of him from City Hall.

In addition to seeking a court order setting aside the ban, Cuellar is seeking damages for lost employment with the city.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi