Travis County DA José Garza could be removed from office under new state law

Could Travis County’s progressive District Attorney Jose Garza be removed from office under a new state law? That process is now in motion. 

Last June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB17 into law. Under the law, a DA’s refusal to prosecute certain types of crimes would constitute "official misconduct". That would then allow the prosecutor to potentially be removed from office by a judge from outside that district.

Enter Judge Dib Waldrip from Comal County. The Abbott appointee assigned himself to the case against Garza earlier this month, after Travis County resident Mary Dupuis filed a petition calling for the DA’s removal. In it, she accused Garza of indiscriminately pressing charges against police, and refusing to prosecute lower-level drug crimes or cases related to the state’s abortion ban. 

On Friday, Waldrip appointed Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols to prosecute the case against Garza.

As of now, Garza is due to appear in a Travis County courtroom on May 16th. 

This comes after Garza’s overwhelming victory in his Democratic primary last month, beating more moderate challenger Jeremy Sylestine by a two-to-one margin. 

In a statement Saturday, Garza said: 

"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."

In a statement Sunday, the Travis County Democratic Party said:

"We are deeply concerned about the use of H.B. 17 to undermine our District Attorney, contravening the clear choice of Travis County voters. This act threatens the independence of local elected officials and challenges the democratic rights of communities to choose leaders that reflect their values."