Travis County DA José Garza Faces Removal Petition Under New Texas Law

Travis courthouse 2011

AUSTIN, TX — Travis County District Attorney José Garza could become the first prosecutor to be removed under a controversial new Texas law aimed at what some state lawmakers have termed “rogue prosecutors.” The law, passed last year, broadens the scope of “official misconduct” to include the categorical refusal to prosecute specific offenses as defined by state law.

On Friday, a petition was accepted by Judge Dib Waldrip, filed by Travis County resident Mary Dupuis, accusing DA Garza of several counts of misconduct including the alleged indiscriminate indictment of law enforcement officers, maintaining a “do not call to testify” list for certain officers, and the refusal to prosecute specific types of criminal offenses. Notably, Garza has publicly committed to not prosecuting cases related to illegal abortions and certain drug offenses.

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The filing of this petition marks a critical point for public safety advocacy in Austin, according to Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek of the local group Save Austin Now. They argue that this is a pivotal moment to address what they describe as failures by Garza to uphold public safety and his duties as a prosecutor.

In response, Garza has attributed the action to political motives, specifically targeting “MAGA Republicans” and their financial backers, accusing them of attempting to overturn the democratic decision of Travis County voters via costly legal challenges.

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The acceptance of the petition triggers the involvement of Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols, appointed as the special prosecutor to investigate the allegations. Should Nichols find sufficient grounds, the case will proceed to a civil trial in Travis County, where the allegations against Garza will be formally examined.

This legal battle unfolds amid a broader national debate over the role of local prosecutors and their discretion in the enforcement of state laws, especially those that may conflict with local community standards or prosecutorial reform agendas. As the investigation moves forward, it will likely attract significant attention from both local and national observers keen on the implications this case could have on prosecutorial independence and political accountability.

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