Removal Petition Filed Against TX DA

District Attorney José Garza
District Attorney José Garza | Image by Travis County

A resident petitioned to remove District Attorney José Garza of Travis County from office earlier this month for “official misconduct,” marking the first attempt to oust a sitting district attorney under Texas’ “rogue” prosecutor law since it came into effect last September.

The law allows petitions to be raised to see district attorneys investigated for incompetency and official misconduct. Should trial proceedings find the allegations hold water, a district attorney can be removed from office, as reported previously by The Dallas Express.

A recent petition filed with Judge Dib Waldrip calls for Garza’s removal from office due to his “incompetency and official misconduct.” The plaintiff, Mary Dupuis, made the following claims in her filing:

“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.”

Specifically, the complaint points to Garza’s “refusal to prosecute certain drug offenses” and illegal abortions, citing public statements he made in 2021 and 2022 to this effect.

Dupuis also claimed separately on X that Garza mishandled her sexual assault case. She said that the individual who purportedly assaulted her was represented by a friend of his, Rick Cofer. She alleged that the DA’s office “destroyed evidence, ignored multiple confessions from the perpetrator, and openly mocked [her] during a hearing to discuss why they declined to prosecute.”

“While the petition focuses on Garza’s politically framed policies, upon legal advice, I saw signing it as the most viable way to initiate an investigation into the corruption of Garza’s office,” she wrote.

Garza issued a brief statement in response to 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.”

Responding to Garza’s allegations that her filing was politically motivated, Dupuis said, “I am not a Republican, and certainly not MAGA. I have not been paid by anyone and filed this petition at great personal risk. In fact, [I] did not have an active voter registration during the primary election and had not had one since 2007.”

As Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols — appointed to act as a special prosecutor to determine whether a civil trial will occur — conducts his investigation, momentum is building in support of Garza’s removal.

“Tonight is a watershed moment for public safety in Austin,” said Matt Mackowiak, co-founder of Save Austin Now, on X.

“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,” he wrote.

Dallas County DA John Creuzot has faced similar accusations during his tenure, such as during his short-lived theft amnesty policy in 2022 that many rebuked for being too soft on crime. As covered by The Dallas Express at the time, Creuzot let suspects charged with thefts between $100 and $750 get off without prosecution but reversed the policy after a few months of substantial pushback from the community and local law enforcement.

More recently, Creuzot’s office has drawn scorn for failing to successfully prosecute 33-year-old Emanuel Cartagena, who allegedly lured a teen away from a Dallas Mavericks game and sexually assaulted her in 2022. The 15-year-old was rescued from sex traffickers in an Oklahoma City hotel 10 days later, as covered by The Dallas Express.

The victim’s family has accused Creuzot’s team of mishandling the case. While the Oklahoma authorities arrested eight individuals on trafficking and child porn charges, the case drawn up by prosecutors against Cartagena was ultimately thrown out by a Dallas County grand jury.

Calling the work done by the DA’s office “half-a***d,” a lawyer representing the family, Zeke Fortenberry, referred to the teen meeting Cartagena in Dallas as “the first domino” of her nightmarish ordeal.

“A 15-year-old girl with no phone, wallet, ID, or car doesn’t end up in Oklahoma unless she’s trafficked,” he said, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The teen’s mother, Brooke Morris, noted that Creuzot’s office failed to recommend an indictment. She said she continues to be “astounded” by the outcome of her daughter’s case.

“The guy who did this had done it before and will probably do it again,” Morris told the Texas Scorecard.

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