Criminal JusticeJudicialLocal NewsWith Judge’s Approval, Petition Advances to Remove El Paso District Attorney For ‘Official Misconduct and ‘Incompetence’

She is facing allegations of 'mishandling' Walmart mass shooting case, misappropriating funds, and allowing hundreds of cases to pile up.
September 16, 2022
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A petition to remove El Paso District Attorney (DA) Yvonne Rosales was approved by Odessa Judge Tyron D. Lewis on Wednesday. The information was confirmed by defense attorney Omar Carmona, who originally filed the petition on August 24.

Rosales, a Democrat, has been in office since she was elected in 2020, taking over for 30-year DA Jaime Esparza, also a Democrat.

The petition for removal comes on the heels of claims of “official misconduct” and “incompetence.” Both of these allegations are grounds for removal under Texas Local Government Code 87

Rosales is overseeing the capital murder trial of Patrick Crusius, who killed 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019. Crusius’ trial is set for 2024. 

The petition accuses Rosales of ”mishandling” of the mass murder trial. Two key prosecutors, Assistant District Attorney John Briggs and Special Prosecutor Monica Barron-Auger, were removed from their positions on August 22.

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The DA’s office released a statement on the matter that reads, “Following recent events, a change was necessary. We wish Mr. Briggs the best.”

Rosales also came under fire from District Court Judge Sam Medrano after she informed the Dallas Morning News of a trial date. Following this, the judge issued a gag order on Rosales and everyone involved in the case, saying, “This case is not going to be tried in the media but will be tried in a court of law.”

“Never in my 26 years on the bench, have I had to resort to the order that I have this morning entered in this case.”

Medrano also berated her for not doing enough to prosecute the case, stating, “The record should reflect that since you took office, not one pleading, not one motion, not one request, not one business record, not one proposed jury questionnaire, not one subpoena duces tecum, not one witness list, not one expert witness list has been filed by your office.”

The petition echoes the concern raised by Medrano, asserting, “Rosales publicly commented that she will continue to prepare for a trial in less than one year, while at the same time agreeing that new attorneys would be hired to litigate the case.”

“This implies that these new attorneys have not set their eyes on one iota of evidence.”

Rosales is also accused by the petitioners of being soft on crime during her tenure as DA. “In Rosales’ first year as District Attorney,” the petition reads, “she filed approximately 60 percent fewer felony and misdemeanor charges against alleged abusers, despite an overall rise in family violence arrests within the city of El Paso.”

Connected to this, the petition also cites the recent dismissal of hundreds of cases due to the DA’s office not charging individuals for crimes.

The cases were dismissed because of a Texas law which requires charges be filed within 180 days of an arrest. Recently, 260 cases were dismissed upon request from the El Paso Public Defender’s Office. That brings the total of recently dismissed cases to around 1,000.

She is also accused of misappropriating public funds for political purposes. The petition cites a Texas Ethics Commission opinion that alleges this misconduct. 

Following the filing of the petition, Rosales decried the allegations, saying, “These types of attacks have taken place since the first day the first female District Attorney in the history of El Paso took office.” 

“Never has there been so much hateful rhetoric or tactics used against any predecessor.”

Now the matter will go to County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal to decide whether to prosecute Rosales or dismiss the case.

A copy of the petition can be found below.

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Hudson Callender

Hudson Callender is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. Hudson recently graduated cum laude from Trinity University with majors in Economics and Political Science, and loves to study ancient history. Hudson is also an avid mountaineer, backpacker, and paddler, often leading trips to remote wilderness areas. Outside of his love for nature, history, and Lone Star beer, Hudson spends his weekends arguing with his friends about football, and will always stick up for the Baylor Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and San Antonio Spurs.