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Commentary Justice

Naming the El Paso courthouse for Enrique Moreno is a fitting tribute to a giant

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By Veronica Carbajal

The El Paso County Courthouse is now the Enrique Moreno County Courthouse.  This is absolutely perfect.  Enrique loved El Paso and it was in that courthouse that he changed thousands of people’s lives, including my own. 

I met Enrique in 2002, when I was a law clerk for Mithoff & Jacks and we had a personal injury case against Asarco.  If you had a giant of an opponent, Enrique was the attorney you wanted on your side.  I reconnected with Enrique again in 2013, thanks to Carmen Rodriguez and to a particularly difficult opponent and set of circumstances that had convinced me I was not cut out for litigation.  

Veronica Carbajal

Enrique was my champion.  

Enrique genuinely looked comfortable wearing a suit and dress shoes and I always felt a little too casual next to him.  Yet, he was both so regal and kind, that I never heard anyone call him Mr. Moreno.  He was Enrique to all of us. 

He was the only man allowed into the exclusive comadre group led by former County Judge Alicia R. Chacón.  He was an ally for women long, long before such support even had a name.  He encouraged, mentored and financially supported many Latinas running for office without any ulterior motive.

He was the first person to encourage me to run for mayor.  For six years, he asked if I was ready to have the talk, and for six years, I told him I could not leave the trenches (which, thanks to his timely intervention, included a lot of trial work).  When we finally had the talk, he said, “Veronica, people are struggling and they need someone who understands that.  You’re that someone.” 

Enrique left us much too soon. To the very end, he fought for justice.  He, along with Lynn Coyle, Chris Benoit and Elena Esparza, took on (among other giants) the Department of Homeland Security for the death of 7 year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin from Guatemala and the El Paso Police Department for the death of Erik-Salas Sanchez, a young man with mental health issues.  

If you don’t know about his cases or his legacy, you can and should Google him. He graduated from Harvard undergrad and law school and despite having lucrative offers elsewhere, he decided to come home, and we are all much better because of it. 

A corrido was written about two Texas U.S. senators, Phil Gramm and Kay Bailey Hutchison, who blocked his appointment to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. But they could not block his fire and his devotion to our community. 

Rest in power Enrique.  

Verónica Carbajal is a mayoral candidate.  Enrique Moreno was her campaign treasurer. 

Cover photo: Enrique Moreno, center, and other advocates had a press conference in December 2018 to discuss the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in Border Patrol custody. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters)

Disclosure: Enrique Moreno was a member of the El Paso Matters Board of Directors before his death in October 2019.

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