April 2, 2009
The El Paso County Courthouse was in a furor this morning because of the arrest of Criminal District Court Judge Manuel Barraza by the FBI on charges that he solicited bribes and sexual favors.
A federal grand jury indicted Barraza Wednesday on four counts, including wire fraud and deprivation of honest services and making false statements, FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons said.
Simmons said the indictment and arrest are not related to the FBI’s larger ongoing public corruption investigation in El Paso.
Barraza, 54, was elected last year and took office Jan. 1 after defeating Don Minton.
“Everything is pretty much going crazy over here because of Judge Barraza’s arrest,” El Paso District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez said. “We’re having to determine who will be signing documents on his behalf and what to do if he decides to return to the bench after he bonds out.”
Gilbert said he and others hope Barraza will not continue hearing cases until the charges against him are disposed of.
“He is innocent until proven guilty, of course, but we’re all hopeful that he will respect the bench and the oath that he took,” Sanchez said. He’s obligated by judicial ethics and the rules of conduct, and for that matter, the decency of a person.
“He was arrested for accepting bribes and sexual favors, so we’re all hoping he does the right thing.”
As of noon today, the U.S. attorney’s office had issued no statement about Barraza’s indictment, and the agency’s public information officers were unavailable for comment.
Check back. More to come.
* * *
To reach David Crowder, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (915) 351-0605, ext. 30
* * *
Read more on this subject:
Open Letter to Judge Manny Barraza
by David Karlsruher
El Paso voters are road kill on the straight ticket/race highway
by Lisa Degliantoni