The judge overseeing the petition to remove El Paso’s District Attorney has thrown out nearly every filing in the case, saying that he first must decide whether to move forward with the removal petition itself.
In Monday’s order, Judge Tryon D. Lewis of Odessa did not say when he will issue an order on whether the removal petition can continue.
Shortly after criminal defense attorney Omar Carmona filed a petition to remove District Attorney Yvonne Rosales from public office on Aug. 24, the DA responded through her attorneys with several legal filings – among them, a motion to dismiss the removal petition and a motion arguing that the County Attorney’s Office, which typically would represent the state in the removal petition, should recuse itself from the case because of alleged conflicts of interest within the office.
In one of the motions filed by the DA’s office, Rosales accused El Paso Matters as being part of a “conspiracy” to remove her from office.
Carmona and County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal responded to the DA’s filings with their own motions. Carmona declined to comment for this story; the County Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
But all of these motions were submitted before a critical procedural step had occurred, Lewis wrote. Under the section of Texas Local Government Code that outlines the process for removing county officials, “action cannot be taken on the petition” until Lewis decides whether to issue a citation, or legal notice, to Rosales – something he hasn’t yet determined.
“These procedural steps set forth in the statute are exclusive, cannot be circumvented, and should be followed strictly,” Lewis wrote in the three-page order.
The order struck and dismissed without prejudice all filings by Rosales’ attorneys, along with the responding motions by Carmona and Bernal. It also affirmed that the El Paso County attorney “is the appropriate official to represent the state in a petition for removal of an official” under the law.
Lewis said he would review Carmona’s petition for removal and application for citation “expeditiously.”
Disclosure: In a Sept. 3 court filing responding to a petition to remove District Attorney Yvonne Rosales from office, the district attorney alleged that El Paso Matters and its CEO, Robert Moore, are part of a “political conspiracy” to oust her. Moore said the filing is an attempt by Rosales “to use the courts to intimidate and suppress a news organization whose coverage she doesn’t like.”