2007-09-05 / News

"El Gallito" back pay lawsuit reset by visiting judge because of filing errors

ROBERT WILCOX Reporter

A back pay and hiring lawsuit filed against Willacy County by Harlingen-based attorney Ernesto "El Gallito" Gonzales was rescheduled by visiting judge Fred Hinojosa, on Friday, after Gonzales used the wrong form in his filing the lawsuit.

Gonzales, who continues to masquerade as an assistant county and district attorney, was not approved as an employee by county commissioners earlier this year.

Judge Hinojosa, a former 13th Court of Appeals justice, was told by Gonzales that, "there is an emergency situation in Willacy County."

"The D.A. has been indicted and (the appeal case) is still sitting at the Court of Appeals," Gonzales said. "I've been regularly appearing since Feb 12th in court."

Judge Hinojosa said that the bottom line is that a D.A. can hire whomever he/she wants to.

"I don't see how the county commissioners can prevent you access from the money," said Hinojosa, referring to unspent budgeted funds.

Attorney Eileen Leeds, who is representing Willacy County in Gonzales's lawsuit, told the judge that Gonzales needed to have used the right filing format.

"This was a preliminary hearing for the case," said Leeds, after court. "We still need to inform the court that there was no job (Assistant District Attorney) in the budget, and that there was no money budgeted for that position last year."

Guerra has had two investigators in his staff budget and no assistant district attorney for the past two fiscal years, and opted in 2007/2008 budget to add a third part-time investigator, again in lieu of an assistant district attorney.

Judge Hinojosa gave Gonzales 15 days to amend his lawsuit. E-mail comments on this story to; robert@raymondvillechroniclenews.com

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