EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – There was a flurry of late week court filings by attorneys representing embattled District Attorney Yvonne Rosales, the County Attorney, and attorney Omar Carmona, who filed the initial petition to have DA Rosales removed from office.

Court records show at least four filings in the case since Thursday afternoon, beginning when Rosales’ two new attorneys, Luis Yañez and Francisco F. Macias filed a Notice of Potential Conflict on Thursday.

The initial filing requests County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal be disqualified from the case, citing several potential conflicts.

Texas Government Code states that the County Attorney would ultimately be the one tasked with representing the state in the proceedings to remove DA Rosales.

Yañez and Macias state that Bernal has a conflict in the case because Dana Carmona, wife of Omar Carmona, works in the County Attorney’s office. The attorneys claim not only Dana Carmona but three other County Attorney employees were former employees of the DA’s office under former DA Jaime Esparza’s tenure.

They claim that since Rosales did not retain these four employees who were later hired at the County Attorney’s office, Bernal would need to recuse herself.

Late Friday afternoon, County Attorney Bernal made her first appearance in the case, acknowledging Texas Government Code mandates her to step in to prosecute the case. “The County Attorney stands ready to fulfill her statutory mandate,” the filing reads.

Bernal’s request also asks the Judge in the case to clarify what role she would have before an official Citation is issued to DA Rosales. The Citation is procedural and can only be issued after an Application for Citation is filed by the Plaintiff.

FILE: Omar Carmona filed a petition for DA Rosales’ removal on August 24, 2022.

KTSM spoke with attorney Omar Carmona Saturday afternoon, who confirmed he filed the Application for Citation with the District Clerk’s Office early Saturday morning and is awaiting their acceptance of his application once the clerk’s office re-opens following the long holiday weekend.

Carmona also provided KTSM with an Amended Notice of Potential Conflict filed on behalf of Rosales’ attorneys late Friday night.

This document is also awaiting official acceptance by the District Clerk’s Office.

The Amended Notice maintains the original reasons why Bernal should recuse herself in the case and adds a peculiar twist, accusing local attorney Justin Underwood and journalist Bob Moore from non-profit media organization El Paso Matters of conspiring with Carmona against DA Rosales.

“It was recently discovered that this conspiracy involved Robert ‘Bob’ Moore through El Paso Matters organization along with attorneys Justin Underwood and Omar Carmona. The above-named individuals routinely appear in attack stories against DA Rosales. These stories include information unlawfully obtained through the inappropriate use of the Texas Public Information Act,” the filing reads.

It goes on to state that the DA’s Office has filed a formal complaint against El Paso Matters and Robert Moore for “deceptive fundraising practices and violations of federal law.”

Journalist Victoria Rossi writes many of the reports surrounding the embattled DA’s office by El Paso Matters. However, Moore has been spearheading the effort to obtain certain documents. KTSM reached out to Moore for comment on the late filing and received the following statement.

“The district attorney’s filing is an attempt by El Paso County’s top law-enforcement official to use the courts to intimidate and suppress a news organization whose coverage she doesn’t like. This is an assault on the First Amendment that should alarm every person who values free expression and more than 200 years of democratic tradition in this country. Our reporting on the district attorney has been fair, accurate, and necessary.”

Robert Moore, El Paso Matters President & CEO

KTSM has also been collaborating with Moore and El Paso Matters to obtain some records, which have thus far been blocked by the DA’s office.

KTSM has also made several attempts to reach out via the DA’s press liaison Paul Ferris and new attorney Luis Yañez for a sit-down interview with DA Rosales but has been unsuccessful.

Rosales’ last and only one-on-one interview with KTSM was in April 2021, despite several attempts to speak with her in person.

Odessa Judge Tryon Lewis will likely set a hearing in the coming weeks on the case.

Walmart Case

Meanwhile, a hearing date of September 13 was set by Judge Sam Medrano to determine whether the family of Walmart victim Alexander Hoffmann violated the gag order imposed by his court on July 1 and whether anyone inside the DA’s office had any knowledge of the e-mails prior to their release to the media.

Judge Medrano appointed attorney Justin Underwood to represent the Hoffmann family in the matter.

Former ADA John Briggs, the lead attorney in the State’s trial against accused shooter Patrick Crusius, was fired by the DA’s office in August. Briggs was also responsible for the other pending Capital Murder case against the man accused of shooting a killing Peter Herrera in 2019.

A second attorney in the Walmart case also submitted her resignation the day Briggs was let go. KTSM reached out to the DA’s office for clarification on who the lead attorney is on the case now that Briggs is no longer with the DA’s office but has yet to receive a response.

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