New District Attorney elected in Starr County area

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RIO GRANDE CITY - Starr County will soon be welcoming a new district attorney after the incumbent lost the race on Tuesday. 

The office covers Starr, Jim Hogg and Duval counties. Gocha Ramirez won the election in all three.

Surrounded by piles of cases, Gocha Ramirez is getting ready to move out of his private practice office.

"If you look at this," Ramirez said pointing at a stack of cases two feet high on his desk, "this is only a portion of what I need to close out before I take office." 

He just won the seat for an office that will feel familiar. Ramirez worked there as an assistant district attorney in the late 80's before going into private practice.

When he takes office in January, there may be some overlap with former clients he may have to prosecute.

"If there are cases that come up later on where I've actually represented a person, then I may have to recuse myself. I don't expect that there will be too many."

Once in office, Ramirez wants to add more positions. He hopes to increase their coverage of the three counties.

"My plan is to get a full-time assistant DA in Duval County. For the meantime, I will handle Jim Hogg County myself, and I will be in the courtroom there handling that docket. We will make sure that the District Attorney’s office in Starr County which is the biggest county, it has the heaviest caseload, is fully staffed. "

Ramirez says he will continue the work the current administration started like the Ayuda Center and the Crime Victims Unit. He says he hopes to strengthen the offices helping vulnerable residents and he welcomes help from the private sector.

The current district attorney, Omar Escobar Jr., told CHANNEL FIVE NEWS he would consider offering Ramirez a special prosecutor position to help with the transition.

With less than a year to go and multiple cases to wrap up before then, Ramirez counter proposes an alternative.

"I think that would be a wonderful first step if Mr. Escobar were to come on over, let’s talk about budgets, let’s talk about forfeiture funds. Let’s talk about cases that are pending, that you're not involved in Mr. Ramirez, that I think you need to know about. Then I would love that," said Ramirez.

Until he officially starts, he still has clients relying on his legal representation. "Those cases that I can't wrap up, then I’ll have to get somebody to sub in for me because once I become DA, I'm a full time prosecutor and I don't do anything besides prosecute cases." In nine months he expects to have that resolved.

Ramirez has no Republican challenger in November and is expected to take office in January.


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