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El Paso County Attorney issues legal opinion upholding Judge Samaniego’s shutdown order

county judge ricardo samaniego
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego discusses the virus.

EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso County Attorney Friday night issued a legal opinion in defense of County Judge Ricardo Samaniego's controversial non-essential business shutdown order to combat the spread of coronavirus, and she flatly disputed contentions by the city's mayor and the state attorney general that the decree was invalid.

County Attorney JoAnne Bernal said Texas law plainly and clearly gives county judges independent ability to issue orders in the handling of local disasters that threaten lives, allowing them to control the movement of people and the occupancy of premises.

She said the state legislature never granted the governor the authority to override a local judge's emergency orders, as claimed by Mayor Dee Margo and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Instead, Bernal said lawmakers limited the governor's power solely to suspend state regulatory statutes, which doesn't include judge's orders. She added that legislators made clear that county judges outrank mayors, who must comply with a judge's emergency directives.

The question of whose legal interpretation is correct will likely be decided in court as the attorney general joined a group of local business owners in filing suit against Samaniego on Friday seeking to have his order formally overturned.

You can read the county attorney's entire opinion below.

Jim Parker

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



      1. Dumbass Mike uses the same accusation on anybody that calls out his retarded views. Either they are terrorists, pedophiles, or communists. QAnon avid reader, Mike, is a hopeless sheep.

  1. ‘allowing them to control the movement of people and the occupancy of premises.’
    Pretty much sums up where we are in this country. At least we will remember freedom, cant say the same for the youngsters and those not born yet.

  2. Margo is still a Republican at heart. In other words, he sees reality through a prism of supporters who want him to be Mayor again. Judge Samaniego only sees reality as it is without any filters, which tells him that Covid19 is totally out of control and needs to be stopped or lessened somehow. Some plan is better than no plan, which Republicans in Washington and at state level believe is not necessary because the Pandemic will just disappear after November 3.

  3. The Republican lack of judgement regarding the pandemic makes the nation wonder just what else they’ve screwed up that we don’t know about yet. Many things are evident but it will be after Biden takes over before we know the extent of the damage that the orange buffoon and his followers have inflicted upon the nation.

  4. El Paso is run by a pack of “Good Ol’ Boys”, that rely of uneducated and low-information voters that will vote for who ever their union boss tells them to.

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