Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott took direct aim through a new bill at leftist district attorneys who pick and choose which laws they want to enforce.
Citing the need to pull back “rogue” DAs, Abbott signed House Bill 17 into law. This long overdue measure grants authority to remove county or district attorneys from office if they reject prosecuting particular crimes.
Part of the motivation for the new law was statements by DAs rejecting enforcing abortion restrictions. However, there is also a recent trend among liberal prosecutors to refuse to pursue convictions for lesser offenses involving drug possession and other crimes.
Abbott touted the new Texas law as a tool that “will help reign in rogue district attorneys.” The Republican said that if an individual wants a career in law enforcement in the state, they must “uphold laws and protect Texans. If not, they will be held accountable.”
The governor said that if a district attorney is in office to make their own laws, they have chosen the wrong career. “If they want to make state policy, they should run for state legislature.”
I signed a law to hold accountable rogue District Attorneys who don’t uphold the law.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 20, 2023
Petitioners may file a motion to dismiss an officeholder believed to be rejecting pursuing certain crimes.
Public statements by prosecutors claiming they will ignore particular infractions are cause for dismissal. These now constitute “official misconduct.”
The accused county or district attorney would be entitled to a trial by jury.
Marvin Riles, president of the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT), declared “these George Soros-backed woke DAs are refusing to do the job they were elected to do by the voters.”
A prime example of the type of official targeted by the new law is Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza. He drew the ire of the governor and Texas conservatives by pledging to ignore low-level drug crimes and violations related to the state’s abortion laws.
Backlash from the left came from Austin Justice Coalition Policy Director Chris Harris, who complained that the law will discourage “reform-minded” district attorneys from seeking office.
Harris said the statute is an attempt to catch Abbott up with Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. He charged that the law attempted to marginalize “trans folk, people seeking abortion, undocumented folks, or Black people in our community.”