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400 more criminal cases motioned for dismissal due to inaction by the district attorney’s office

400 more criminal cases filed for dismissal by public defender.
David Avila
400 more criminal cases filed for dismissal by public defender.

EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso county public defender says her office has motioned to dismiss another 400 criminal cases because of inaction from the district attorney's office.

Kelli Childress, the public defender, says her office made the motion on Wednesday morning, and they expect the cases to be assigned to the referral docket on October 18, where a judge will make the final determination on whether or not to dismiss the cases.

Childress says her office has identified 800 additional cases that are eligible for dismissal, and there are about 1,200 cases that are in an "unfiled" status, meaning they have not been indicted, but the prosecutor still has time to file charges. Her office is in the time-consuming process of contacting clients who are impacted.

"We need to get back to consistent procedures and swift justice. The clearing of this chaos will give the DA an opportunity to do better going forward. I remain hopeful that we never go through this again," Childress said in a written statement.

This is the first filing since late August when the public defender's office filed a wave of dismissals that resulted in more than 840 criminal cases being dismissed.

Texas law allows the district attorney's office to refile these cases. The office is in the process of reviewing the hundreds of cases that were dismissed in August and September. Chief of the intake department, assistant district attorney Douglas Tiemann, told ABC-7 on September 7 that 80 cases have been refiled and the office has identified another 420 to refile.

ABC-7 has tried to get an update on the number of cases that have been refiled on multiple occasions but has never received an answer from the district attorney's office.

The case dismissals are considered a 32.01 dismissal. That code in Texas law says a case can be dismissed if an individual is not indicted within 180 days of their arrest. In some of the cases dismissed in August, defendants were still waiting for an indictment more than 900 days after their arrest.

The cases that were dismissed include drug possession, assaults, and family violence. Legal experts have said that the delay in indictments affects both the accused and accusers. Local attorney Omar Carmona says those accused of family violence have no restrictions against them from contacting their accuser.

“There are people who are truly scared, and if their case isn’t finalized, what security do they have," Carmona asked back in August.

Carmona filed a motion to remove district attorney Yvonne Rosales from her elected position on August 24.

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Dylan McKim


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