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Retired judge weighs in on 375 dismissed criminal cases in El Paso

EL PASO, Texas -- A retired El Paso judge is weighing in following the dismissal of 375 criminal cases.

Since Monday, the cases were released after the District Attorney's Office didn't indict them within a certain time frame. A Texas law allows cases to be dismissed if they aren't indicted within 180 days.

A total of 375 cases were dismissed. ABC-7 counted each one to understand the individual cases.

As many as 69 cases were domestic violence related; that's almost 20%.

Another 76 cases were drug-related.

Retired Judge Penny Hamilton served in El Paso County Courts for more than 25 years. The last five years she served as a jail magistrate.

Hamilton told ABC-7 about the ongoing dismissed cases, something she is very concerned about.

"There are victims that now there is nothing out there to protect them. I don't know how you dig out from a hole this deep, you know? When you have 400 cases that they get dismissed because you haven't done anything. I don't even know how you justify that," Hamilton said.

In a statement released Monday, officials said, "the District Attorney's Office still capable of filing charges as the cases are still within the statute of limitations, which can range from 2-10 years for most cases."

But Hamilton said refiling cases takes time and isn't as easy.

"If she hasn't done anything with these cases for over a year and she has 5,000 of them impending how in the world will she be able to do that? I just don't, it just doesn't add up to me or make sense," she said.

She said it can impact the cases by making those in the case word harder. Hamilton said law enforcement effort is also wasted.

"You have to have somebody do that again and not necessarily go out and arrest somebody but the paperwork to be reviewed--that's that's double the initial work," she said.

ABC-7 has continued to ask Rosales for an interview through phone calls, e-mails and texts since Monday. On Friday, ABC-7 stopped by her office, but office officials said she wasn't in.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso
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Rosemary Montañez

ABC-7 Reporter

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