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Published on April 21, 2024
Travis County DA José Garza Faces Removal Process Over Alleged Misconduct Under Texas LawSource: Travis County, Texas

The legal gears are turning in the battle to oust Travis County District Attorney José Garza, as recent developments suggest the "rogue prosecutor" lawsuit under Texas' House Bill 17 inches forward. Under the scrutiny for alleged "official misconduct," Garza is now subject to a removal proceeding, which included the appointment of Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols as the prosecuting attorney, the Austin American Statesman reported.

The original petition by Travis County resident Mary Elizabeth Dupuis charged Garza with enacting policies that seemingly neglect to prosecute certain crimes, essentially labeling them as "incompetency and official misconduct." The complaint spotlights Garza's refusal to prosecute drug possession cases and his stated intention to not prosecute abortion-related offenses in light of the Roe v. Wade reversal, a story detailed by the Austin American Statesman. The filing further criticizes Garza's approach to cases involving police use of force, asserting that it discriminates against law enforcement officials.

The controversial Texas law took effect last September as part of an initiative by state Republicans to rein in what they term "rogue" progressive prosecutors. The law stipulates that a district attorney can be removed for choosing not to prosecute specific criminal offenses. According to KXAN, retired judge Charlie Baird expressed concerns that statutes like H.B. 17 may have a "chilling effect" on prosecutors and compromise their discretionary powers, which traditionally have been broad and significant to their role.

Garza has been vocal on social media about the lawsuit, denouncing it as a politically motivated scheme to subvert the will of the Travis County electorate. In a defiant statement, Garza said, "Every day, our office works to bring justice to Travis County and keep people safe. Last month, a few billionaires and MAGA Republicans and their dark money PAC failed to stop our progress at the ballot box. Now, one month later, their allies are wasting taxpayer money trying to undermine the decision of the voters of Travis County. They failed once, and they'll fail again," the district attorney told KXAN.

As the case proceeds, Garza remains in his elected position, pending the outcome of this contentious legal challenge.