By James Clark - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - In a one-page letter, city officials on Wednesday officially requested District Attorney Matt Powell to get involved in questions of Councilman Victor Hernandez' eligibility to stay in office.
On Tuesday the City Council, on a vote of six to one, approved going forward with a legal procedure called Quo Warranto. The outcome could cost Hernandez his seat on the Council, and he was the lone vote of dissent.
Quo Warranto in Latin means "which warrant?" In modern legal terms it's a question; is this legal?
Officials say Quo Warranto is the only means available to them in questioning Hernandez' qualifications to serve in office.
Officials say Powell has the option to take it before a State District Judge or to take no action. Officials say the City of Lubbock could also take Quo Warranto to the Texas Attorney General as well.
Mayor Tom Martin called for a special City Council meeting Tuesday morning regarding Hernandez' future. Martin quoted the City Charter as saying no employee or official can be indebted to the City. Hernandez paid back-taxes for multiple years on Monday afternoon, just ahead of the Tuesday Council meeting.
Martin also quoted another line from the Charter which says, "Any officer or employee of the City who shall cease to possess any of the qualifications herein required shall forfeit his office or position."
The Charter does not say who can make a final ruling as to whether or not Hernandez has forfeited his seat.
"I've looked at it, yes," Powell says. "It's gonna take some looking into."
Does Powell have any thoughts on what he might do? "Not even close," he answers.
Since Hernandez' wife is a Justice of the Peace, would Powell have to hand off the Quo Warranto to a special prosecutor for conflict of interest? "I don't think we're conflicted. Right now all I have is a letter and a copy of the Charter. Things may change when we get to look at it," Powell says.
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