Texan Senate Gives Permission For Bill To Sack DAs For Not Goin Ahead With Prosecuting Crimes

The Senate gave initial approval to a bill barring elected prosecutors from adopting policies that refuse prosecution of classes of crimes, such as controversial abortion offenses.

AUSTIN – The Texas Senate gave initial passage to a bill Tuesday that paves the way for removing district attorneys from office who adopt policies of not prosecuting specific types of crimes, including controversial abortion and election offenses.

The bill would create a process for kicking elected criminal prosecutors out of office who adopt blanket policies to not prosecute politically charged crimes. That would bar policies such as a former directive from Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot to not prosecute thefts under $750.

“These actions set a dangerous precedent and severely undermine the authority of the Legislature,” said the bill’s author Sen. Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican and former prosecutor.

Adopting such policies would be considered “official misconduct” and grounds for removal from office under the legislation.

Supporters of the bill, including anti-abortion advocates and police officer labor groups, say it prevents activist district attorneys from ignoring state law and would boost officer morale.

Critics say it is overly broad and could be used as a cudgel to undermine the will of voters by removing elected prosecutors from office who do not adhere to certain political philosophies.

The bill requires a final vote in the Senate — likely to happen this week — before it heads to the House.

In 2019, Creuzot adopted a policy of not prosecuting theft under $750, a class-B misdemeanor. Top Republican leaders in Texas, including Gov. Greg Abbott, condemned the policy at the time.

Following his reelection in 2022, Creuzot, a Democrat, rescinded the policy in December. He said at the time the policy had been misconstrued and twisted even as thefts dropped. He declined to comment for this story.

Despite the policy no longer being in place, Huffman referenced it during the debate of her bill Tuesday on the Senate floor.

“It’s a policy, as we’ve heard some say, ‘I’m not going to prosecute, you know, thefts that are under $750′ or ‘I’m not going to prosecute marijuana.’ Those are just examples,” she said.

Huffman said her bill does not bar a prosecutor from having discretion over what cases should be prosecuted.

But Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a San Antonio Democrat, countered that the bill does not apply to the state’s top elected prosecutor, Attorney General Ken Paxton. Gutierrez referenced Paxton’s recent decision to not defend a state law in a lawsuit challenging age restrictions on handgun purchases.

“It applies to district attorneys who don’t want to prosecute a certain class of crimes, but it doesn’t apply to the attorney general, who doesn’t want to follow our laws,” Gutierrez said.