A local conservative activist has filed a motion to remove one of the county’s top law enforcement officials: District Attorney Mark Gonzalez.
A 118-page petition filed by Colby Wilts, a Nueces County resident and Texas County Citizens Liberty Director, argues that the two-term Democratic District Attorney should be removed from office as a result of “incompetence, misconduct and insolvency.” give bail.”
According to the petition, Gonzalez “mishandled and managed murder cases, recall motions, criminal discharge rates, and deliberately nullified properly passed laws on his oath.” According to the petition, under his leadership, the local criminal justice system “is in crisis due to backlogs and a shortage of experienced professional prosecutors.”
Gonzalez, who was contacted by the Caller-Times on Monday, declined to comment on the statement.
“I will not be making any comments at this time,” Gonzalez said in a written statement. “However, I will say that we will dispute all charges and are proud of the work done.”
Any resident of Texas may file such a petition, which, if allowed by the state district judge, will result in the official being formally prosecuted. State law specifies that removal from office may be considered on the basis of incompetence, misconduct, drunkenness, or failure to pay bail.
How the lawsuit will proceed in court is not yet clear. This may be brought by District Attorney Jenny Dorsey and a jury may be convened to consider whether a suspension is warranted. The verdict can be appealed by either party. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been tasked with appointing a replacement if an elected official resigns.
Based on allegations of incompetence and misconduct, this rare trial loomed over former El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales before she ultimately resigned, according to El Paso Times reports. Her term expires in 2024.
Previous Texas District Attorney Appointment:Governor Greg Abbott appoints Bill Hicks to replace Yvonne Rosales as El Paso District Attorney.
Court records show that the motion will be heard in the 319th Circuit Court by Judge David Stith, although another judge may be brought in to oversee the proceedings.
Who is Colby Wilts?
Wiltse is among the leaders of the conservative Citizens Defending US Freedom, whose Nueces County chapter has sought to evaluate sex education in local school districts and remove certain books from school shelves.
The group was behind recent book challenges for Corpus Christi ISD and Oso West ISD. Last summer, teachers protested outside the group’s office after a social media post circulated about the group’s efforts to review library books and curriculum, as well as school staff social media pages. Created in September 2020, the private Facebook group for the Nueces County branch of the CCDF has over 470 members.
The petition against Gonzalez was filed on Wiltse’s behalf by Jonathan Hallihan, an attorney primarily practicing in The Woodlands outside of Houston. He is the lead attorney for County Citizens Defending Freedom in Texas.
Gonzalez was first elected in 2016. A native of Agua, Dulce worked as a lawyer for most of his career before running for office.
The petition lists more than half a dozen reasons for Gonzalez’s removal from office, citing local media coverage and the outcome of high-profile cases.
Among the cases listed is the long-running capital murder case of Breanna Wood. In this case, the District Attorney’s Office recused itself. It will now be considered by the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
In August, when considering the acquittal of the defendants, a visiting judge concluded that “although there was credible evidence of gross incompetence, negligence and/or negligence on the part of the Nueces County District Attorney’s office in prosecuting and investigating these cases, such misconduct does not amount to level requiring the annulment of the indictment for capital murder.”
The petition also cites a shortage of staff in the DA’s office and Gonzalez’s efforts to respond to the issue.
In June, during a public meeting, González’s chief prosecutor, Angelica Hernandez, said the office was short of 13 prosecutors, which she said strained the remaining staff and hampered efforts to address a growing court backlog. (She claimed that this symbolized a trend in statewide district attorneys.) Subsequent meetings on the issue stalled because Gonzalez was not present. He later said he was on vacation and asked Hernandez to let the judges know in advance.
The petition alleges, among other complaints, that Gonzalez posted social media posts promoting his private business, Cruisers Restaurant, from his office in the Nueces County Courthouse.
Wiltse requests that Gonzalez be suspended indefinitely until the end of the trial. Gonzalez ran for the office and won in 2016 before being re-elected in 2020. He has previously said he will not run for re-election when his current term ends.