Gov. Greg Abbott accepts resignation of El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has accepted the resignation of El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales, capping off a tumultuous two-year tenure.

In a letter addressed to Rosales, Abbott wrote simply "I hereby accept your resignation as the District Attorney for the 34th Judicial District, Culberson, Hudspeth, and El Paso Counties."

The letter was submitted to 409th District Court Judge Sam Medrano Jr. by Rosales' attorney, Richard Roman, for consideration in the Walmart mass shooting case. Roman was reached by phone but said he could not talk.

Attorney Matthew Dekoatz speaks as El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales appears in court on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, on violations of the July gag order issued in the Walmart mass shooting case.
Attorney Matthew Dekoatz speaks as El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales appears in court on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, on violations of the July gag order issued in the Walmart mass shooting case.

The letter follows the Thursday hearing in which Rosales invoked her right to silence under the Fifth Amendment and was excused from court after only a few questions related to the Walmart shooting gag order.

Included with a letter was a copy of Rosales' resignation letter, which states that her resignation will become effective at 5 p.m. on Dec. 14, 2022. The letter states that "(e)ffective immediately, the First Assistant, Mr. Salah George Al-Hanna shall assume all duties and responsibilities as acting District Attorney."

Rosales first took office in January 2021, so it will fall to the governor to appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of her term, which expires in 2024.

Steps to replace district attorney after resignation

Earlier this week, El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal issued a statement outlining the next steps in replacing Rosales.

She said in order to resign, under Texas law a district attorney:

  1. Must resign in writing and tender her resignation to the governor.

  2. The resignation becomes effective upon the governor’s acceptance of it or the expiration of eight days, whichever is first.

  3. Even after the resignation becomes effective, Rosales will remain in office as a “holdover” office holder. In holdover status she remains free to exercise all her duties and powers until the governor appoints her successor.

  4. The governor, in his sole discretion, chooses her successor, who must be a licensed attorney.

  5. The candidate must meet the following qualifications:

    1. Be at least 18 years old.

    2. Be a registered voter.

    3. Have resided in Texas for more than one year and at least six months inside the district.

    4. Be a practicing lawyer.

    5. Not be convicted of a felony.

    6. Not determined to be incompetent by a probate court

El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said, "The DA’s announced resignation does not mean the automatic dismissal of any criminal cases. She remains responsible for ensuring the continued prosecution of existing cases. The community and victims, in particular, should understand that the law provides for a transition to ensure the protection of the criminal cases pending in this district."

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A look back:DA Rosales no-show for hearing on Walmart shooting gag order violation

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Greg Abbott accepts resignation of El Paso DA Yvonne Rosales