3.28.23  -- Texas Tribune

“Texas Republicans, Once Allied with Prosecutors, Seek To Rein Them In”

By Eleanor Klibanoff

A sign that says district attorney on the side of a building.

***COMMENTS FROM DONNA GARNER:  To understand why the Republicans in the Texas Legislature have filed so many bills to rein in the power of the George Soros-bought District Attorneys, please read these three articles:

2.22.21 -- "Disastrous Ruling in Texas by Little-Known Court Would Turn Texas Blue" -- From Donna Garner -- https://donnagarner.org/disastrous-ruling-in-texas-by-little-known-court-would-turn-texas-blue/

12.23.21 -- “Texas Candidates Bought by George Soros, Including District Attorneys” -- By Donna Garner --https://donnagarner.org/texas-candidates-bought-by-george-soros-including-district-attorneys/

12.28.21 -- “George Soros and His Diabolical Plan for Texas and the U. S.” -- By Donna Garner -- https://donnagarner.org/george-soros-and-his-diabolical-plan-for-texas-and-the-united-states/


Excerpts from this Texas Tribune article:


When the Legislature convened in January, Republicans trotted out their usual priorities — border security, school vouchers, property taxes and anti-LGBTQ animus. But they also honed in on a new target: prosecutors.

District and county attorneys have typically garnered a lot of support from law- and- order conservatives. But a new fissure has emerged between Republican lawmakers who create the laws and left-leaning prosecutors tasked with enforcing them, especially around abortion, voter fraud and drug and property crime.

By declining to take these cases, prosecutors say they are merely exercising their prosecutorial discretion; lawmakers argue they are engaging in “prosecutorial legislation,” cherry-picking which laws do and do not apply in their jurisdictions.

Legislators have filed more than 30 bills aimed at reining in the power and purview of locally elected prosecutors. Some lawmakers are content with removing or disciplining “rogue DAs” who decline to pursue abortion or election cases. Others want to ensure those cases end up in the hands of a lawyer who will take them on — like a neighboring district attorney, or even the Texas attorney general.



Elected district and county attorneys have wide prosecutorial discretion to decide which cases their office should pursue. Usually, that happens on a case-by-case basis, but occasionally, prosecutors adopt policies dictating their approach.

In 2019, Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot announced a policy of not prosecuting first-time marijuana offenses and thefts of personal items under $750 stolen out of necessity...

After the overturn of Roe v. Wade last June, five Texas prosecutors, including Creuzot, signed on to a national letter saying they wouldn’t use departmental resources to pursue abortion-related charges.

Travis County District Attorney José Garza [said] that he was making a strategic decision about prioritiesPulling resources away from that to focus on this kind of case [abortion-related charges] would be reckless and endanger the safety of our community.”

As county-level elected officials, prosecutors cannot be impeached by the Legislature or executive action, nor can they face a recall election. To remove a prosecutor from office, a resident of the county must file a petition alleging “incompetency, official misconduct or intoxication.” If a jury finds them guilty, a district judge can order them removed from office.

It’s a rarely used tactic, but last year, the El Paso County district attorney resigned ahead of a removal trial. The rookie prosecutor was accused of endangering public safety by bungling even her most basic responsibilities, and her office has been implicated in possible criminal allegations over the handling of the 2019 Walmart shooting case

If a prosecutor is removed, Gov. Greg Abbott appoints a successor until the next election.

The priority prosecutor bills — House Bill 17 and Senate Bill 20 — both operate within this existing disciplinary structure. They propose expanding the definition of “official misconduct,” allowing any resident to file a removal petition if a prosecutor adopts a policy that “prohibits or materially limits the enforcement of any criminal offense.”

House Bill 3307, filed by state Rep. David Cook, R-Mansfield, would allow removal petitions to be brought by district and county attorneys in neighboring counties. The removal trial could proceed in the neighboring county as well, per the legislation.

Several bills would allow the attorney general to bring a removal petition, as well as sue prosecutors who have a written or unofficial policy of not enforcing certain crimes. Under House Bill 1350 and its companion, Senate Bill 378, the attorney general could bring a civil suit seeking fines of $25,000 for each day a prosecutor doesn’t enforce the law.

Legislators have also proposed constitutional amendments to allow prosecutors to be impeached by executive action or removed through recall elections; amendments require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers before they go to voters for approval.

Two bills — House Bill 1732 and Senate Bill 404 would reestablish the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council [PACC] to review complaints and discipline prosecutors... 

The new PACC would be made up of a county attorney and a district attorney, a police chief or sheriff, a criminal judge, two non-lawyers and a presiding officer appointed by the governor…


Several bills would allow neighboring district attorneys to pursue election-related cases if the local prosecutor declines to do so, through several different mechanisms. 

One bill proposes allowing the attorney general to appoint them, while others would give a district attorney from any neighboring county concurrent jurisdiction on voter fraud cases.

Another proposal would create a new position of a statewide special prosecutor. Per House Bill 4026, filed by Rep. Mike Schofield, R-Katy, and Senate Bill 1096, filed by Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, this special prosecutor would have statewide jurisdiction to pursue election, abortion, human trafficking, drug or corruption charges.

The special prosecutor would be appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas. In Schofield’s bill, the attorney general’s office would be permitted to “assist the special prosecutor in fulfilling the duties” of their office.

…Legislators are also looking for ways to empower the attorney general to prosecute certain offenses, including voter fraud and abortion. But to do so, they’ll have to find a way around a recent court ruling that affirmed the Texas attorney general has virtually no independent prosecutorial authority.

In Stephens v. Texas, the state Court of Criminal Appeals ruled the attorney general can only intervene when explicitly asked to by the local prosecutor.

In amicus briefs for the Stephens case, a group of Republican senators argued that preventing the attorney general from prosecuting election fraud would result in a “substantial reduction of the constitutional power of the Legislature.”

Without the Attorney General’s ability to step in when a district attorney does not move forward on the investigation or prosecution of an election crime, there will be no deterrent against election fraud in that district,” the senators wrote in the brief.

Republican legislators filed several bills that could circumvent that ruling by giving the Texas Supreme Court authority to overturn decisions from the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Texas is one of only two states that has two equally powerful high courts. These bills would put the Texas Supreme Court, which handles civil cases, OVER the Court of Criminal Appeals, which handles criminal cases, on constitutional questions like the one considered in Stephens…