Efforts continue to remove progressive Texas DA using ‘rogue prosecutor’ law

A citizens’ petition is moving forward to remove a progressive district attorney in Austin, Texas, under the state’s newly implemented “rogue prosecutor” statute. This comes after a local judge’s ruling earlier this week.

Judge Dib Waldrip, who presides over Texas’ 3rd Administrative Judicial District, made a significant decision on Friday. He granted permission for a petition to move forward that aims to remove Travis County District Attorney José Garza due to allegations of “official misconduct.”

Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols was assigned as the prosecuting attorney in the case.

Travis County resident Mary Dupuis filed a petition on April 8, expressing her concerns about the way DA Garza has been handling police use-of-force cases. In the document, she points out that Garza has pressed charges against law enforcement officials without discrimination and presented them to grand juries.

Garza’s refusal to prosecute certain crimes has also been highlighted by her. She has openly stated her stance on not pursuing charges related to abortion or specific drug offenses.

Under House Bill 17, a petition was filed, enabling courts to remove district and county attorneys for “official misconduct.” This bill, which became effective in September, encompasses the refusal to prosecute specific criminal offenses.

Last year, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill with the intention of holding rogue district attorneys accountable. This decision came after progressive DAs, including Garza, openly declared that they would not prosecute individuals seeking abortions, despite it being prohibited under Texas law.

Elected district attorneys, though, still hold considerable power in determining which cases they choose to pursue.

In December, Garza was confronted with a petition for his removal, filed by Jason Salazar. However, Salazar’s disqualification from seeking the removal under the law stemmed from a felony drug charge.

Martin Harry, a former Republican candidate for district attorney who lost the election to Garza in 2020, penned the Salazar petition.

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