This is your Friday update, which takes a quick look at the week ahead and some developments that El Paso Matters is following.
Next Hearing in Walmart Shooting Set: Sam Medrano Jr., the 409th District Court judge, has scheduled a new status update in the Walmart mass shooting case for 9 a.m. Oct. 11 in his courtroom. A San Antonio judge this week rejected an attempt by the El Paso District Attorney’s Office to remove Medrano from presiding over the case against a gunman accused of killing 23 people on Aug. 3, 2019. Medrano had scheduled a status update hearing for Sept. 13, but that was delayed after the DA’s office filed a motion to recuse him on Sept. 9. That motion barred him from taking any action on the case until the removal attempt was decided. The Oct. 11 hearing is expected to have little to do with the capital murder charges against the accused gunman. Instead, it will likely focus on an email purportedly written by the widow of one of the victims. The email made a number of claims, including that complaints had been filed with state judicial authorities accusing Medrano of improper behavior. John Briggs, the former lead prosecutor on the case, testified during the recusal hearing that he believed the email was actually written by Rosales’ legal advisor, Roger Rodriguez.
El Paso Federal Judge Formally Ends Tigua Gambling Fight: The almost 30-year court fight over gambling between El Paso’s Tigua Indian tribe and the state of Texas came to a quiet end this week. The state and the tribe, which is formally known as the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, filed a joint status report to U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone on Tuesday stating that they had no unresolved issues in the latest gambling lawsuit, which the state brought in 2017. Cardone then signed an order “to dismiss the case in its entirety.” The U.S. Supreme Court in July ruled that the Tiguas’ bingo-based games offered at Speaking Rock Entertainment Center, 120 S. Pueblo Road in the Lower Valley, were being conducted legally. The state and the tribe have been fighting over gambling in federal court since April 1993. The state had prevailed in most of the cases over the decades until the high court ruling in July.
UTEP Achieves Fundraising Record: University of Texas at El Paso President Heather Wilson announced that UTEP raised a record $38.9 million in gifts and donations during the 2022 fiscal year during the annual convocation, or State of the University address, on Wednesday. UTEP plans to use the money for scholarships, fellowships and facilities, and to support faculty. The institution set its previous fundraising record of $26.9 million during the 2021 fiscal year. The speech also included accolades about increased research activity and student engagement.