SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra faces a legal petition calling for his removal.
According to a lawsuit filed in Hays County on Monday by attorney Kent ‘Bud’ Wymore, resident Nathan Kaspar accuses the judge of taking “at least Fifty Thousand ($50,000) dollars from the hard-working taxpayers of this State for work that he did not do,” in 2019 and 2020.
“A county administrator, someone that has gone into office and taken an oath to do the job and to do it correctly, should not be taking money that they’re not entitled to,” Kaspar told KXAN News.
Government code indicates a county judge can collect a salary supplement from the state “if at least 40 percent of the functions that the judge performs are ‘judicial functions.'”
Becerra’s attorney wrote in a statement that the lawsuit “is baseless.”
“In conjunction with the General Counsel for Hays County and the Texas Association of Counties, we will put together a team that will work to put this nonsense to rest so that Judge Becerra can continue his work on behalf of Hays County without these distractions,” the statement said.
The lawsuit alleges Becerra never performed any “judicial function” duties, which would include exercising civil jurisdiction, criminal jurisdiction or sitting as a magistrate.
“Removal of county official cases are rare,” said Dan Richards, a partner in his law firm, Richards Rodriguez & Skeith Attorneys at Law.
He hasn’t represented a county judge but has successfully represented two district attorneys in similar cases, where a petition for their removal was filed.
“The statute is really clear what you have to prove. There’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through. And those are difficult in cases,” Richards said.
He says there isn’t a lot of case law in this area but some people have been removed from their offices.
The lawsuit documents indicate a public information request was filed for records that Becerra performed any of the above duties.
Kasper alleges in the lawsuit that they found those records for the previous county judge, Bert Cobb, but those records do not exist for Judge Becerra.
The lawsuit also includes an affidavit from Rene Garner, the Administrator for Hays County Courts at Law 1, 2 and 3 since 1984.
In the document, Garner testifies, “In my position as Administrator, I oversee and have knowledge of all dockets (civil and criminal) for Hays County Courts at Law 1, 2, and 3. Ruben Becerra has never presided over any docket at the Hays County Courts at Law level.”
Criminal misconduct allegations
The complaint against Becerra also accuses the sitting county judge of multiple acts of “criminal misconduct.” Those allegations include:
- “Tampering with governmental record/knowingly making a false entry in a governmental record.”
- “Perjury/making a false statement under oath.”
- “Making a record or document with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of an official proceeding.”
Becerra has not been arrested or been charged with any of these counts.
Texas code indicates a county judge may be removed in instances such as “incompetency” or “official misconduct,” which are both alleged in the complaint against Becerra.
Kaspar says he’s calling for Becerra’s removal or resignation.
“That’s the height of hypocrisy for him to continue to sit on that bench and carry the title of ‘judge’ when he’s been paid to do it, he said he was going to do it and he hasn’t done any of those actions in the two years that he’s been in office,” Kaspar said.
What happens next?
The next stop in the petition against Judge Becerra lies with the Hays County district court. There, a judge would decide whether to issue a citation.
If the judge refuses, the petition is dismissed and this all ends. If the judge decides to issue a citation, Becerra would have five days to answer.
From there, he could be temporarily suspended while the county prepares a jury trial. That jury would decide guilt or innocence and whether Judge Becerra would continue holding office in Hays County.