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Cameron County Commissioners Court files lawsuit against Sheriff Eric Garza

3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago Wednesday, April 14 2021 Apr 14, 2021 April 14, 2021 3:42 PM April 14, 2021 in News - Local

A behind-the-scenes battle in Cameron County crossed into the county’s court after they unanimously made a motion Tuesday to file a lawsuit against Cameron County Sheriff Eric Garza.

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The suit, filed Wednesday morning, alleges Garza acted outside his authority in an HR matter after he allegedly moved 15 deputies, who were assigned to court security and budgeted and commissioned to Cameron County Precinct 2 Constable Abel Gomez, to his department.

On Tuesday, Garza held an impromptu press conference announcing his office would resume courthouse security duties after he said the commissioner’s court and county judge were notified.

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In a letter dated March 25, Garza notified county officials that he believed the agreement between the Cameron County Sheriff's Office and Precinct 2 constables to provide security was not legally binding.

"By law, the sheriff is in charge of courthouse security,” Garza said. “Unfortunately, the previous administration was not taking care of that responsibility, so they made a contract with another law enforcement official."

According to the lawsuit, the county's legal and HR teams asked Garza to rescind the letter to allow for legal and administrative processes to meet his request.

Garza denied the request on March 29 — the same day deputies began working under his direction without allowing the commissioners court and HR departments to follow the budgetary and legal transfer of positions, the lawsuit stated.

A Cameron County district judge said the sheriff violated the Texas Constitution and Texas local government codes.

On Wednesday, a temporary restraining order was issued, halting the deputies from working for Garza until a hearing is held.

In a statement, the commissioners court said they "attempted to work with Mr. Garza to avoid a public dispute but it was to no avail."

At a press conference Wednesday, Chief Deputy Robert Gracia said the office will follow the order, but said the commissioners court is trying to prevent Sheriff Garza from doing his job. 

"To state this as clear as possible, the Cameron County Civil Legal Division has sued their own client," Gracia said. "This is without doubt, a waste of your taxpayer's money."

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