2007-10-03 / Front Page

"Junior" Vera chosen interim county administrative judge to replace Barnhart

Judicial duties split between two area attorneys

"Junior" Vera chosen interim county administrative judge to replace Barnhart

Emilio "Junior" Veraæ

In an emergency meeting on Friday afternoon, Willacy County commissioners appointed Emilio "Junior" Vera interim judge to replace County Judge Eliseo "Cheyo" Barnhart who was suspended late last month, after he was indicted for aggravated perjury.

Vera will assume the administrative and supervisory duties of the county judge's office, while Barnhart is on suspension, according to Commissioner Eddie Chapa who made the motion seconded by Commissioner Aurelio "Keeter" Guerra.

"Junior was appointed judge pro-tem earlier this year by all of us, and it made sense to keep it in the court," Chapa said. "We needed someone to sign documents and supervise county employees."

Chapa, who is a first-term commissioner, said that he got lots of inquiries from potential applicants for Barnhart's job outside of the commissioners court.

"Appointing someone from the outside would have made us have to realign a lot of the priorities that we've been working on," Chapa added. "We have a lot of legal challenges facing us too," referring to dozens of lawsuits and cross criminal charges being filed by county officials. "One applicant even gave me a resume."

A local attorney, Oscar Cavazos was appointed to preside over probate and miscellaneous judicial hearings, while Barnhart is on suspension.

A retired Edinburg Municipal Judge, Jaime Garza, was also appointed to preside over Barnhart's county criminal court docket, which has about 90 current cases, according to Chapa.

Vera is on his first elected term of office as Precinct 3 Commissioner.

Cavazos has been practicing law for over 50 years, and is from Raymondville. Garza has been in Raymondville recently as a visiting judge, where he has been presiding over the criminal trial of Chief Deputy David Martinez, who was charged with the misdemeanor offense of filing a false police report by District Attorney Juan Angel "Johnny" Guerra.

Payments for the interim judge(s) will come from county and state funds. Cavazos will get up to $750/ day to handle the county's civil matters, and Garza will get $150/hour from the state to handle the criminal case load.

Barnhart will remain on paid administrative leave until his criminal case is adjudicated.

E-mail comments on this story to; robert@raymondvillechroniclenews.com

CORRECTION: Commissioner Vera was not appointed to replace former Commissioner Jose Jimenez as previously reported; Vera is on his first elected term of office as Precinct 3 Commissioner.


Return to top