El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez informed today that the indictment unsealed against El Paso District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez does not automatically trigger his removal from office. Texas law states that only if Mr. Sanchez were to be convicted of felony charges or misdemeanor charges involving official misconduct, the conviction would operate as an immediate removal.
Rodríguez further explained that, while the charges are pending, Mr. Sanchez will remain the elected District Clerk and has full powers as such, unless Mr. Sanchez resigns or a removal action is filed.
If Mr. Sanchez resigns, Commissioners Court will be able to vote on the appointment a interim clerk to fill the vacancy.
Regarding possible removal petitions, County Attorney Rodríguez said that if a removal action is filed, an out-of-town judge would preside over the case and decide whether the removal has merits. The presiding judge would have the authority to issue a temporary suspension against the District Clerk and appoint another person to perform the duties of the office.
Rodríguez explained that, according to Texas law, appropriate grounds for removal of elected officials from public office include incompetency, official misconduct and intoxication on or off duty caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage.
"We are currently reviewing the indictment in this case to determine if sufficient grounds and evidence exist to pursue a removal action," Rodríguez concluded.
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District Clerk Legal Status Press Release.pdf