Report: Far-left district attorney issued “secret order” authorizing discretionary release of felons

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TRAVIS COUNTY, TX – The controversial Travis County District Attorney has issued a secret order allowing prosecutors to drop felony charges against criminals at their own discretion and takes no consideration of the crime victims.

Two months after taking office, on March 15, 2021, Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza (D) issued a secret standing order regarding the handling of felony cases in the county. It went into effect immediately.

The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) released a document on July 7 demonstrating that District Attorney Garza has reversed the Texas Penal Code.

Charley Wilkison, Executive Director of CLEAT, said:

“Jose Garza has misused his official position of elected office. Taxpayers are unknowingly funding his whimsical journey of reimagining a Texas with criminals roaming the neighborhoods magically rehabilitating themselves and morphing from home invaders, armed robbers, drug offenders, and mass shooters.”

The standing order stated that a prosecuting District Attorney could decide not to pursue felony charges brought by investigators if the attorney “does not wish to prosecute.”

The order also instructed the Travis County Central Booking Facility to release any detainees held on felony charges upon notice that the prosecuting attorney decided to prosecute.

The order begins:

“In the interest of justice and fairness for all persons arrested for felony crimes, the Travis County District Court Judges have determined that if a prosecuting agency responsible for pursuing felony charges against arrested persons does not wish to prosecute, the arrested persons shall be released from the Travis County Central Booking Facility as described in this standing order.”

Although the order was issued “in the interest of justice and fairness” to “persons arrested,” there is no mention of the crime victim’s rights or wishes. Crime victims have no standing in the process.

The order continues:

“The Travis County District Attorney’s Officer, the agency responsible for prosecuting felonies in Travis County, has established a method to review probable cause affidavits, and in certain cases, reject charges. After notification of that rejection occurs, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office should no longer hold detainees.”

There is no detail provided explaining restrictions or guidelines the prosecuting attorneys must follow to reject charges, and no avenue is given for investigators or victims to appeal the decision.

The orders then give discretion to prosecuting attorneys:

“The Travis County District Attorney’s Office will review probable cause affidavits for felony charges brought to the CBF (Central Booking Facility) by arresting agencies in Travis County.

“If the Assistant District Attorney determines, in their discretion, to reject the charge(s) listed in the affidavit…the Assistant District Attorney will provide notice of rejection to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office personnel.”

The order also makes no differentiation between the felony charge and less included charges. If the felony charge is dismissed, the order demands that the arrestee be released. There is no exception to hold an arrestee for underlying charges.

Wilkison said the order bypasses state law and violates checks and balances built into the justice system:

“Jose Garza and the liberal lemmings inhabiting the benches of Travis County are on a mission to undermine the legislative process and create a criminal sanctuary in Austin.”

In a press release issued by CLEAT, the agency said that the secret order creates a situation where the felon could be released and back on the street before the arresting officer could make it back to his assigned beat.

Prior to the order, assistant DAs would initially review the affidavit and only reject charges that lacked sufficient probable cause. The affidavit would also be reviewed for probable cause before a magistrate at arraignment.

The new system bypasses the arraignment by releasing felony suspects regardless of probable cause and without being brought before a judge. Wilkison said Garza was in a political dream:

“Jose Garza has unhitched himself from the two touchstones required to be an ethical prosecutor. In his current political dream state, he no longer needs facts or the law. The public’s safety is endangered.”

Wilkinson said the secret policy, and other policies by the rookie DA, has endangered the reputation of Texas:

“Texas’ reputation for safe communities is drawing people from all over the world to come here and make this their new home. That reputation of safe streets exists because the Texas state legislature enacts laws reflective of the citizens.

“No district attorney has the right to blanketly rewrite Texas laws, especially felony crimes that endanger the citizens.”

CLEAT charged that Garza has “invited lawlessness, violence, and criminals into Travis County and has jeopardized public safety.”

CLEAT intends to ask the governor to add this public safety crisis to the special session call, and we will be asking individual legislators to act.

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LET Unity
Austin witnessing mass exodus of officers following new police-bashing city policies, cop-targeting district attorney

April 10, 2021

 

AUSTIN, TX – The Austin Police Department is seeing a mass exodus of officers since massive budget cuts and a new district attorney issuing a policy to re-investigate officers for closed cases.

The Austin City Council voted unanimously in August to defund the police department by about a third of its budget. The cuts were passed despite warnings from law enforcement groups and others that the cuts would create a surge in officers fleeing the city.

A total of $150 million from APD’s budget will be reallocated. Of that, $49 million will be diverted to other programs, $21 million was reallocated immediately and $80 million will be reallocated later. Those cuts also included cutting some future cadet classes. 

Police morale was also hit when a new district attorney pledged a hard line on prosecuting officers for wrongdoing, a move some said made officers targets for persecution.

Travis County District Attorney José Garza promised to re-investigate officers who had been accused of misconduct, even when those cases were closed. During his election campaign, he said he would “bring all police shootings and more police misconduct cases before a grand jury.”

PJ Media reported that the Austin Police Department is now suffering a huge surge in officers leaving the department, putting it on pace to shatter 2020’s record.

According to PJ Media, 20 officers retired and eight others resigned from the department in January. In February, another six officers retired and five resigned.

The trend continued in March when 20 more officers retired, three resigned, and one was terminated.

https://twitter.com/ATXkevinSongs/status/1379831731864416258

In 2019, for comparison, 46 officers retired and 22 officers resigned. In 2020, exacerbated by the George Floyd riots and the pandemic, 89 officers left the department. 78 of those officers left between the riots and the end of the year.

According to the Austin Police Retirement System (APRS), prior to 2020, retirements averaged 50-52 per year over the last 5-6 years, 2020 saw a record number of retirements at 97.

In the first quarter of 2021, the department saw 45 retirements and 18 resignations or terminations. The Austin Police Department experienced a total of 63 separations in just the first quarter of 2021.

If the current pattern holds, the department could lose approximately 252 officers this year. That is five times the average number of separations per year. 

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