Texas Civil Rights Project Files 82 Motions in Round Rock Municipial Court to Recuse Bailiff for Derogatory Ethnic Comment in High School Immigration Protest Cases
25 Local Attorneys Volunteer Services in Student Criminal Curfew Trials
The Texas Civil Rights Project has filed a motion in each of 82 Round Rock municipal court case to recuse Bailiff Richard Kobel for derogatory ethnic comments he made during the May 16 arraignment of student protestors, charged with curfew violations during their peaceful immigration demonstrations on March 30-31.
The motions include an affidavit by Michael Rodriguez, a TCRP assistant, that, in his presence, Bailiff Kobel recounted to a Round Rock police officer that, when Mr. Kobel was himself a police officer, the Hispanic people in Round Rock would flee when they saw his police car. Kobel then stated “Of course, in those days we also referred to them as wetbacks.”
TCRP Director Jim Harrington said “this kind of slur represents the biased law enforcement against minority persons that undermines public confidence in equal access to justice in Williamson County in Round Rock. These comments not only are offensive, especially by a court officer, but are particularly loathsome when the students in these cases are Hispanic or supporters of a Hispanic-identified issue, immigration reform.
This may explain why Round Rock is the only city in Texas to criminally prosecute students over the nationwide immigration protests and, even worse, prosecutes them, even under an ordinance that has a specific First Amendment exception for demonstrations, which applies to the students. And at enormous expense to local taxpayers in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. ”
The motions note that “Misconduct by [a bailiff] compromises the impartiality of court proceedings…. Bailiffs are responsible for escorting the jury in and out of the courtroom and stand in proximity to the jury, parties, judges, and witnesses. A bailiffs official status carries great weight with a jury. Any misconduct creates prejudice that can damage due process…. Kobels biased public remarks reflect a lack of discretion that raises the probability of continued impropriety in the presence of the parties, the judge, and the jury at trial.”
TCRP also announced 25 local attorneys have volunteered to represent the students at their criminal trials, which begin, one-by-one, on June 30. Harrington said, “Ive never seen such a widespread offer of help from attorneys, volunteering their time. I think it reflects a sense of anger that Round Rock is prosecuting these cases. We are grateful for the number of attorneys who have come forward to help protect and defend the First Amendment in Round Rock. The Round Rock authorities need to learn their city is not a “de-constitutionalized zone.”
See: Press Release @Texas Civil Rights Project