Updated 4/23

District Attorney José Garza of Travis County could be the first prosecutor to be removed under a new state law targeting rogue prosecutors, with citizens accusing him of “incompetency and official misconduct.”

Last year, state lawmakers approved legislation to expand the definition of “official misconduct” to include “a prosecuting attorney’s adoption or enforcement of a policy of categorically refusing to prosecute specific criminal offenses under state law.”

If a resident believes the prosecuting attorney is engaging in such misconduct, he or she can submit a petition for removal, initiating a proceeding to remove the prosecuting attorney from office.

On Friday, Judge Dib Waldrip accepted a petition filed by Mary Dupuis, a Travis County resident, alleging the following:

1. Defendant singles out law enforcement officials by automatically, indiscriminately, presenting charges against them to grand juries;

2. Defendant maintains a “do not call to testify” list of law enforcement officials who he deems unfit to testify and disqualifies from serving as witnesses for the State of Texas and

3. Defendant refuses to prosecute a class or type of criminal offense under state law.

Garza has made headlines for vowing not to prosecute illegal abortions and for not prosecuting certain drug-related cases. 

Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek of Save Austin Now, a group that has criticized Garza’s failure to prosecute crimes in the capital city, called it a “watershed moment for public safety in Austin.”

“A Travis County resident has filed a substantive petition under HB17 alleging serious and provable violations of state law which, if proven, must result in DA Garza’s removal from office. This is the beginning of the end for DA Garza’s reign of terror for our community, ignoring the wishes of crime victims, attacking law enforcement, and enabling criminal activity through an indiscriminate refusal to uphold his oath and prosecute violent crimes. We want to thank the petitioner for her courage and seriousness,” Mackowiak and Petricek said in a statement.

Garza, meanwhile, blamed “MAGA Republicans” for the petition.

“Every day, our office works to bring justice to Travis County and keep people safe. Last month, a few billionaires and MAGA Republicans and their dark money PAC failed to stop our progress at the ballot box. Now, one month later, their allies are wasting taxpayer money trying to undermine the decision of the voters of Travis County. They failed once, and they’ll fail again,” said Garza.

Now that the petition has been accepted, Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols has been appointed to act as a special prosecutor to conduct an investigation and determine whether or not to bring the case to a civil trial, which would take place in Travis County.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens