Haynes and Boone Joins ACT to Shut Down West Dallas Drug House


Haynes and Boone, LLP, working with Dallas-based nonprofit organization Advocates for Community Transformation (ACT), has achieved an important victory for residents living on the same block as a dangerous drug house in West Dallas.

A state district court determined after trial that the drug house is a nuisance and ordered that it must be sold or demolished within one year. Until the drug house is sold or demolished, a receiver will oversee the property and ensure that it is closed and boarded, that no criminal activity occurs, and that the property complies with all City of Dallas ordinances.

Dallas Partner David Harper and Associate Laura Warrick prosecuted the lawsuit on behalf of their pro bono clients. Before trial, Dallas District Court Judge Phyllis Lister Brown granted a motion for partial summary judgment, finding that the drug house and its owner were liable on the clients’ claims of private nuisance, public nuisance, and statutory nuisance. At trial, the judge considered additional evidence and determined the appropriate remedy.

The property at issue in this case was a known drug house in the Westmoreland Heights neighborhood in West Dallas. The property was the location of dangerous drug-related activity, including the possession and trade of illegal drugs, illegal possession of firearms, and violent crime. The property was raided three times by the Dallas Police Department in recent years, including a raid about five weeks before trial.

After the first police raid on the drug house and city code enforcement efforts did not permanently stop the illegal drug activity at the house, the Westmoreland Heights Neighborhood Association wrote to the owner seeking serious changes take place, but the owner did not put a stop to the continuing activity. Three brave families then stepped forward to file the lawsuit on behalf of their families and community to seek to put an end to the illegal and dangerous activity at the house. Two more police drug raids occurred while the lawsuit was pending, but the drug activity continued until the court issued its order after trial.

“It was an honor to work on behalf of our clients and with ACT to bring justice to an under-served community in Dallas,” Mr. Harper said. “We were pleased that we were able to represent and empower our clients in their effort to make their neighborhood a safer and more peaceful place. These families demonstrated true moral courage in stepping up to protect their families and their neighborhood from the continued danger of drug activity just steps from their own homes.”

Reid Porter is the founder and director of ACT, which works to create safer, more stable neighborhoods free from crime and urban blight. “When ACT was started five years ago, I envisioned victories just like this one taking place,” Porter said. “I knew that with capable attorneys like David and Laura and brave residents willing to stand up against the drug dealers, that change could come to West Dallas. This is a huge victory in the life of our organization and shows what is possible when the justice system is brought into an unjust situation."

About ACT
ACT is a new model of ministry in Dallas who uses the justice system to shut down drug houses, while ministering to those who have been hurt by them. Since the founding of ACT in 2009, the residents in the first two target neighborhoods in West Dallas saw reported crime reduced by nearly 50 percent. Over the past five years, ACT has shut down 40 drug houses through representing, along with firms like Haynes and Boone, over 100 individuals and provided over 200 wills to West Dallas residents to prevent current homes from becoming future magnets for crime.For more information, please visit the website actdallas.org.


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