It's a blow to the Dallas family of a murdered lawyer that has been trying to solve the case themselves.
The 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas has reversed a trial judge and dismissed a lawsuit against the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County Medical Examiner brought by the family of murdered lawyer Ira Tobolowsky.
The case has frustrated police and infuriated family members for more than four years. Tobolowsky was killed May 13, 2016 in his North Dallas garage. The garage was then set on fire by the attackers, investigators have ruled.
While police have concentrated on at least two persons of interest, there has never been an arrest.
Unhappy with the Dallas Police investigation, the Tobolowski family has tried to conduct its own investigation. The effort has met with resistance by both police and the Medical Examiner who refused to hand over records.
Requests for documents were shut down on grounds that the case is ongoing. Opinions by the Texas Attorney General have excused law enforcement from releasing disputed records when there is an ongoing investigation. Because murder has no statute of limitations each unsolved murder case in Texas can fall under this category.
The Tobolowsky family has tried a different route, an attempt to get the records as part of discovery for a civil suit that may be filed.
But now an appeals court has ruled “Because the limitations period had run on the Estate’s anticipated claims before it filed its Rule 202 petition (which allows lawyers to take depositions as part of trial discovery), the petition was moot, and the trial court should have dismissed the petition for want of jurisdiction. Accordingly, we vacate the trial court’s order and dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction.” the appeals court opinion says.
The family can still appeal to the Supreme Court.