What is the process for removing a Texas sheriff from their elected position?

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With recent calls for the resignation of Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody amid the Javier Ambler in-custody death investigation, KXAN investigators have been looking into what Texas law says about removing an elected sheriff from their position.

It’s not an easy task to achieve. State statute spells out the following reasons for removal:

  • incompetency
  • official misconduct
  • intoxication

To start the process, someone must file a petition in district court. The petition must then be approved by a district judge before it goes to trial.

Texas State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, who has called on the sheriff to resign said he hopes the citizens of Williamson County start the legal steps for removal.

“Sheriff Chody’s department killed a citizen that they were sworn to protect and serve,” said Talarico. “They filmed that killing for a reality TV show, and then they covered it up for 15 months and withheld the truth from the public. If that’s not official misconduct, if that’s not incompetency, then I don’t know what is.”

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody on July 18, 2018
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody

KXAN reached out to the two Williamson County Commissioners who called on Sheriff Chody to resign, Terry Cook and Cynthia Long, to ask if they have plans to take their requests any further.

“I have no further plans at this time – we need the legal process to move forward,” said Cook in an email, referring to the legal process for the Ambler investigation.

Long’s office referred back to the commissioner’s original statement earlier this week, which said in part:

These actions and results of other actions that are coming to light have shown a callous disregard for the very laws Robert Chody swore to uphold. Today I say, ‘Enough. Sheriff Chody must resign immediately. His actions and failure of leadership demonstrates he lacks the moral authority to be a cop and much less Williamson County’s top cop.’ This tragedy occurred on Robert Chody’s watch. The deputies involved should be fired immediately and all involved must cooperate fully with the investigation. I am NOT saying, ‘Defund or disband the police. I am saying get rid of the ones that discredit and disgrace the badge and let the good cops do their job.’”

KXAN reached out to Sheriff Chody for a response. The sheriff’s office public information officer said he was not available for comment on this story. He has not responded to any of KXAN’s requests for comment since the Ambler case came to light Monday.

On Tuesday, the sheriff fired back on Twitter, responding to calls for his resignation. He said he has no plans to back down and said, “I look forward to continuing to serve as the Sheriff of Williamson County.”

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