EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso District Attorney is seeking the opinion from the Texas Attorney General on whether she can hire graduate law students with "supervised practice cards" as assistant district attorneys.
In a letter to the Attorney General's Office, DA Yvonne Rosales said the three graduates she wishes to hire are scheduled to take the Texas Bar Exam in July and the DA’s office would like the job candidates to start work in mid-August.
Rosales stated the job candidates would have their "supervised practice cards" and would be working under a supervising attorney.
In the letter, it said these recent graduates would be filling open positions within the DA’s office.
In a statement sent to ABC-7 on Thursday, the District Attorney’s Office said there was a disagreement between their office and the El Paso County Attorney over the legality of hiring graduate students. Because of this disagreement, the DA reached out to the state attorney general for another legal opinion. (You can read the entire statement at the bottom of this article.)
Two attorneys who used to work in the DA's office, and spoke on the condition of anonymity, expressed concern about the move to hire law students.
"The fact that Ms. Rosales' needs to hire unlicensed law students as prosecutors shows just how overwhelmed and understaffed the DA's office is right now. She simply has not been able to replace those employees because lawyers don't want to work for her and more are leaving," said one lawyer.
Another added, "I think they're hurting, I think she could be doing a little bit better as far as running the office internally. I think she's more worried about the public opinion instead of her staff."
Sources have told ABC-7 that there has been an extremely high turnover rate at the DA's office since Rosales was sworn into the office back in January.
When ABC-7 spoke to Rosales as she reached her first 100 days in office, she had indicated there were roughly 40 positions available, which translates to about 25% of the total number of attorneys in the office.
Below is the entire statement received by ABC-7 on Thursday from the DA's office...