AP NEWS

Federal court dismisses case against Starr County judge

January 22, 2017 GMT

The federal lawsuit against Judge Jose Luis Garza of the 381st state district court in Starr County was dismissed this week, according to court records.

Filiberto Guerra III, de Aragon, a party in a case being heard by Garza, sued the judge alleging he violated Guerra’s constitutional rights.

However, federal District Judge Sam Sparks out of the Austin Division signed an order to dismiss the case on Wednesday.

“Judge Jose Luis Garza is a sitting state judge and is entitled to judicial immunity under allegations pleaded by plaintiffs as there are no specific factual allegations (rational or otherwise) of Judge Garza doing anything outside of his judicial responsibilities,” the order states.

Robert Icenhauer-Ramirez, the attorney hired by the county to represent Garza, stated he believed the court’s ruling vindicated his position that Garza was acting within his authority.

“Judge Garza was engaged in the work that he was elected by the citizens of Starr County to do,” he stated over e-mail. “The case filed in federal court was clearly wrongly filed against him.”

The allegations against Garza stemmed from a property dispute case brought by PlainsCapital Bank against the heirs of property located in Starr County.

In court documents, Guerra listed himself as an heir of three property owners. Throughout the proceedings, Guerra filed a notice claiming the state district court did not have jurisdiction, which instead belonged to the Superior Court of Texas.

A “Superior Court of Texas” is not listed in the Texas courts official website.

Garza granted the motions filed by PlainsCapital Bank on Aug. 18 to strike those documents and to not file documents submitted by Guerra that contained the heading “Superior Court of the State of Texas.”

Additionally, Garza ordered that Guerra desist from filing any further motions purporting to be from the Superior Court of the Court of Texas.

Guerra is alleged that by doing so, Garza trespassed, conspired with PlainsCapital Bank, deprived the plaintiff of his constitutionally protected rights, dismissed one of the people’s pleadings, dismissed a common law court of record ruling, and disregarded Supreme Court rulings, according to the complaint.

Icenhauer-Ramirez filed a motion to dismiss the case on Dec. 20 but Guerra, de Aragon did not file a response.

He could not be reached for comment.

bereniceg@themonitor.com