POSTED: Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 5:10pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 2:23pm
EL PASO - Local attorneys say an El Paso police sergeant failed to show up for jury duty and even lied on his juror form, which could be a felony.
They recognized his name, Joseph Garcia, because they say one of their clients accused an officer by that same name of sexually assaulting her.
Stuart Leeds and Theresa Caballero are asking the police department, the district attorney office, and even the state attorney general's office to investigate an officer who they say lied on this juror form.
On the juror form, for the question, "Have you ever been party to a lawsuit excluding divorce?' Garcia wrote, "No."
Leeds and Caballero say, not so fast.
"How can you forget being sued in federal court for rape as a police officer and how can you forget, how can anyone forget, being cross-examined by Theresa Caballero?" Leeds asked.
Leeds and Caballero represented a woman back in 2004 named Nancy Hollebeke who accused two police officers of raping her. One of those officers was Joseph Garcia. Police records indicate there is only one Joseph Garcia on the force. Back then, the D.A.'s office decided not to prosecute the officers in that case. Hollebeke also unsuccessfully sued the officers. But then, police charged Hollebeke with filing a false report.
"That's a Class B misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in the county jail," Caballero said.
The charge against Hollebeke was eventually dismissed. But Leeds and Caballero say if officer Garcia did lie on his juror form in saying he had never been party to a lawsuit, that the D.A.'s office should be as aggressive with him.
"Perjury is a felony, so let's see what happens to this Joseph Garcia," Caballero said.
We emailed Garcia using the contact on his questionnaire form but haven't heard back. The police department says Garcia showed up for work the day he was summoned for jury duty and that the Internal Affairs department is investigating. The District Attorneys office also tells us, "We are aware of this matter and we are looking into it."
Since Garcia didn't show, the court tells us he'll be summoned in 5 to 6 months to tell a judge why he didn't show up for jury duty that day. If the judge finds that Garcia lied on his form, he could face up to $1,000 in fines and maybe even be criminally charged.
"I just don't want to see a disparity of treatment," Leeds said. "I don't want to see the average El Paso citizen who doesn't show up for jury duty get fined and officer Garcia goes scot-free."