UPDATE: Cameron Co. Commissioners Court to oversee courthouse security, files lawsuit against Sheriff Eric Garza

Local News

Cameron, County (KVEO)—Cameron County Commissioners Court announced they have filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Eric Garza for “acting outside the scope of his legal authority.”

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In the lawsuit, Garza is accused of disregarding the authorities imposed by the Civil Service Regulations.

On December 22, 2016, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, Jr., Presiding District Judge Benjamin Euresti, Jr., Presiding County Court at Law No. 2 Judge Laura L. Betancourt, Cameron County Constable Precinct 2 Abelardo Gomez, Jr., and Former Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (herein “MOU”) regarding courthouse security.

The MOU authorized Cameron County Constable Precinct 2 Abelardo Gomez, Jr. to accept the responsibility of courthouse security and to provide the officers with a law enforcement commission.

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The MOU became effective in 2013 and is required to be updated if there are any changes to the elected officials that signed the MOU.

According to the lawsuit, on March 29, 2021, Garza terminated that MOU and order courthouse security officers to report to the sheriff’s department, although the county’s Civil Legal Division requested he rescind the letter “and allow an orderly legal and administrative process to accomplish Sheriff Garza’s goals.”

“These actions are in contrary to the Commissioners Court and the Texas Constitution, which Sheriff Garza is bound to uphold.”

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The order states because of the “illegitimate actions by Sheriff Garza,” Commissioners Court and no choice but to file this suit for declaratory judgment, writ of mandamus, application for a temporary restraining order, and injunctive relief.

The Cameron County Commissioners Court has also filed a temporary restraining order against Garza.

The order states that without authority he has seized the court’s budget decisions and has disregarded the powers and authorities imposed by the Civil Service Regulations.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday morning with the Cameron County District Clerk’s Office.

Statement from Cameron County Commissioners Court Civil Legal Division

The lawsuit was decided to be filed during Commissioner’s meeting on Tuesday.

Garza responded to the restraining order in a release on Wednesday that was followed up by a press conference by Sheriff Deputy Chief Robert Gracia.

The sheriff stated that the MOU is not legally binding and is not enforceable as it operates in perpetuity.

Additionally, Garza argued that former Sheriff Lucio cannot bind his future successors in office to an MOU between county offices as he is not an employee anymore.

Garza hammered down that he will not accept the agreements of the MOU and is terminating it.

In a press conference, The Cameron County Commissioners Court of Civil Legal Division stated they will not stand for any “attempt to usurp budgetary and organizational authority from the county or a diversion of time, personnel, and resource from county residents”, according to the release.

On Friday, the Law Office of Ramon Garcia sent a press release which stated that Garza “will comply with the Court’s guidance, all relevant statutes, regulations, and procedures in order properly secure the courthouse.”

According to the release, the Court will submit agenda items to commissioners court to start the process to take over courthouse security.

Garza defeated John Chambers in the race for Cameron County Sheriff with 61 percent of votes to 39 percent of votes in the Nov. elections.

Garza was the first new sheriff for Cameron County since 2001. He defeated former Sheriff Omar Lucio for the position in the 2020 July Primary Runoff Election.

Garza took over the role in January 2021.

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