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El Paso Rep. Sam Morgan pleads not guilty to domestic violence as City Council again postpones censure decision

El Paso City Council representative Sam Morgan listens in council chambers during a legislative discussion.
El Paso City Council representative Sam Morgan listens in council chambers during a legislative discussion.

EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso city Rep. Sam Morgan pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a domestic violence charge as City Council again debated whether or not to censure him.

Morgan appeared briefly at a court arraignment and entered a written plea of not guilty. A short time later he was at Tuesday's council meeting where one of the topics of discussion was whether to censure him as a result of his October arrest for alleged family violence.

Police and prosecutors have accused Morgan of assaulting his wife Janet, who has filed for divorce since the Oct. 4 incident, and threatening her with a gun.

Following the arraignment, Morgan's lawyer Leonard Morales said that Morgan "will continue to represent the people of northeast El Paso, he will obey and comply with any court orders or requirements, and will continue to love and support his family."

During the council meeting, Morgan noted that the city charter contains no provision allowing for a city leader to be disciplined over allegations of unbecoming conduct.

"Our charter has very specific language when it comes to removing a council member.... but the charter does not have any language for censure," Morgan told his fellow council members.

Under the charter, Morgan could only be removed from office if he were ultimately convicted of a crime - not merely charged with one.

However, some council members think it may still be possible to censure Morgan based on Texas law.

"Since the state currently does have a censure process, and we are a home rule city, we do not necessarily need a censure process to perform a censure, we can follow the process of the state," contended city Rep. Alexsandra Annello.

Discussions with the city attorney over the question of censure took place in executive session through the early evening hours until a decision was made to once again postpone taking action.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

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Jim Parker

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