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Coronavirus

Texas AG threatens legal action over El Paso County shutdown after mayor questions judge’s order

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
MGN
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

EL PASO, Texas -- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted Thursday night that his office was "quickly exploring" all legal options after El Paso County issued an order shutting down all non-essential businesses due to a severe spike in Covid-19 illness that has overwhelmed local hospitals.

"El Paso County Judge (Ricardo) Samaniego has no authority to shut down business in El Paso County. This is a direct violation of Gov. (Greg) Abbot's executive order," Paxton wrote.

Paxton's comments came after El Paso Mayor Dee Margo sent a letter to the attorney general seeking clarification as to whether Samaniego had the authority to order business closures.

"The Judge did not consult me and refuses to return my call, so I am seeking clarification from the Attorney General on the new County order," Margo said in a statement to the media.

Margo seemed opposed to the county order, saying he felt "we must strike a balance of keeping our neighbors safe while not destroying people's abilities to feed their families."

In a response to ABC-7 late Thursday night, Samaniego said Margo "became difficult to work with" in recent days and added that the mayor was "opposing the direction of other community leaders," including El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar.

The judge also maintains that attorneys for the county tell him he is on solid legal ground issuing his order.

Meantime, Paxton responded to Margo's letter with one of his own that reiterated the opinion he offered in his tweet. (Both letters are displayed at the bottom of this article in their entirety.)

While the attorney general's opinion is the official position of the state of Texas, it is not legally binding.

Ultimately, a court may end up deciding the matter if a legal challenge to Samaniego's order is brought by either Paxton or another entity.

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Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

Comments

27 Comments

    1. There is no way a county official should have this type of power in the first place. Working WITH state government is another story but circumventing authority is unacceptable. That’s no different than Vigilantism.

  1. Of course the best thing for all would be for Abbott to agree that these measures are now unavoidable if we’re going to get a handle on this surge. Abbott and the judge need to get on the same page. Its little asinine pissing contests like this that have caused 230,000 deaths. The judge and the governor need to do a zoom call with Dr. Fauci and then do exactly as he says.

    1. You had me until you mentioned Fauci. Worst thing that happened to this country in 2020. When this broke out the WH should have formed a 10 doctors/scientist/so-called-experts with 5 republicans and 5 democrats. Yea it’s political but that how things are now. Fauci turned into an egocentric dick doing Oprah/Colbert gigs. That in itself exposed his weakness to let it go to his head. Maybe the guy is smart, I have no idea but he f’d himself. If Trump pulls out a win (and I have no idea if he will) Fauci will disappear on his own demise and so will all this silliness on going on at the El Paso city meetings.

          1. Went by the crap hole you live in, in Anthony, it makes alberto’s government-subsidized apartment look like a palace.

        1. Fooshie is a fool and so are you comadre turner. The fool can’t make up his mind whether to not wear a mask, wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, don’ shut down, shut down, don’t shut down. 2.1 million ded by October. Never mind maybe by next year. The fool is a biden wanna be. A do nothing say anything to be elected fool. Lying biden won’t even deny that he knew about his son’s involvement with Ukraine, China and even Iran. Fooshie is not an elected official and he does not have the last word. Only fools and marxists would say something stupid and ridiculous as that.

          1. NADODAVE HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE INFERIOR TO A “FOOL?” YOU SUCK AND HE MAKES DECISIONS. EAT THAT LOSER.

  2. EL PASO SHOULD SUE THE MAGGOT ABBOT AND AND THE AG FOR NEGLIGENCE. SOB’S GOT IT WRONG! OPENED TOO SOON. WAIT UNTIL BIDEN WINS AND SUE THE CRAP OUT OF THEM.

  3. Posted this elsewhere too- Can someone tell me please where samaniego gets his “Power” to do things like this and impose his will? Under what authority is he operating and from where is that authority derived? I don’t understand. How is it that a mere judge has (Seemingly) more power than the mayor?

    1. Maybe you should read the Texas Government Code. Still, the County Judge will have to go by Abbott’s previous order. They need to stop bickering like children and act in the interest of public health.

    2. It’s the power granted by “we have to do something!” which in some minds overrides both logic and previously established limits on government authority.

    3. We have a rouge judge here. He is not supposed to make law at a whim. He has no power to shut down anything if it’s not covered by law and under his jurisdiction. Time to turn off his lights and put him in his place. Last time I saw there was no law passed by legislation that says to shut down anything without the will of the people. So you are correct. This judge is assuming more power than Texas law allows.

  4. THIS IS WHY OUR HOSPILS ARE FULL:

    Whistleblower says El Paso ambulances picking up COVID-19 patients from Juarez

    As emergency responders are being recognized across the nation, El Paso’s first responders may be facing more danger from COVID-19 than anyone else.

    El Paso firefighters in the trenches of the COVID-19 pandemic, cannot talk on the record about the number of people they are picking up every day from El Paso’s international bridges. “There’s somedays where it’s only three or four times and other days when it will be 13 or 14 responses. You’ll be there for one patient and [CBP] customs will let you know, hey there’s another one right behind them and another one sometime there are four or five waiting in line,” said the anonymous source.

    As a result of what appear to be escalating ambulance responses at the international bridges by the El Paso Fire Department, KFOX14’s source insists the city of El Paso is being left in a dangerously vulnerable position.

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