AUSTIN (KXAN) - Lawyers for Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg say there is no legal basis to force her from office and pointed out that male officeholders who've been convicted of DWI were never placed under legal pressure to resign.
In court papers filed May 13, Lehmberg's lawyers argue that Texas Constitution states that "habitual drunkenness" is a cause to remove an elected official from office. But a single instance of driving while intoxicated falls far short of that standard.
"An allegation of a single incident fails to satisfy the constitutional requirement," the court filing says.
Not long after Lehmberg was arrested in April for driving while drunk, Austin lawyer Kerry O'Brien began a legal effort to force her from office. Lehmberg, a two-term Democrat, pleaded guilty to the offense and was released from jail on good behavior after serving half of her 45-day sentence.
County Attorney David Escamilla, meanwhile, rejected O'Brien's effort to oust Lehmberg and filed his own petition seeking to strip the district attorney of her office. He also asked that Lehmberg be suspended while the court action runs its course.
Lehmberg's defense team -- Austin lawyers Daniel Richards, David Richards, Clark Richards, Catherine Mauzy and Charles Herring Jr. -- also contend that there is no legal for suspending their client. They also argue that proceeding with the effort to force Lehmberg from office would violate the equal-protection provisions of the Texas and U.S. Constitutions.
"Several male officeholders have had similar DWIs or incidents of 'intoxication,'" the lawyers say in their filing. "Yet the State has never filed a removal proceeding against any male officeholder who was involved in a similar intoxication or DWI incident in Travis County."
O'Brien has said he plans to watch the court actions carefully in the Lehmberg case.
Lehmberg, meanwhile, has said she plans to serve out her term but not seek re-election in 2016. She has also said she is getting unspecified professional help relating to her behavior stemming from her arrest.
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