The Field Review - Local

Cameron County’s Timeframe to Appeal the Nepotism Dismissal on Minerva Peña has Passed

On May 3, 2022, the Court of Appeals, for the Thirteenth District of Texas sent notice to the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, which states the following:

“It appears that the appeal has not been timely perfected. Pursuant to Tex. R. App. P. 37.1, you are hereby given notice of this defect so that steps may be taken to correct the defect, if it can be done. If, after the expiration of ten days from the date of this letter [May 3, 2022], this defect is not cured, the appeal shall be dismissed.”

This appeal was related to the trial courts decision in State of Texas v. Minerva Peña, where Peña was indicted on one count of nepotism. The original cause was filed in Cameron County District Court under 2021-DCR-02482. The case is related to a school teacher getting a job because Peña is on the Brownsville ISD school board and the teacher was a relative of Peña’s. This is the alleged allegation. Interestingly enough is how easy it is for teachers to obtain jobs in a field that is highly understaffed, but that is a different topic of discussion.

On or about May 5, 2022, Edward Sandoval, the First Assistant to District Attorney Luis Saenz, filed and signed a “Motion to Rescind.” The motion cited the “power,” the trial court had to remedy the decision, should the trial court, “choose,” to remedy the situation.

The interesting thing about this “power,” the trial court has, as claimed by Edward Sandoval in his appeal to the trial court, was one that played out in another case where the State of Texas, even more specially, Edward Sandoval stated the trial court has no “power,” to reconsider a decision it makes. This matter, the conflicted argument by Edward Sandoval, is waiting for the Court of Appeals to decide a petition of habeas corpus filed under 13-21-00101-CR where the State of Texas filed an erroneous allegation the defendant closed before any discovery occurred, obtained proof of falsehood, and filed a petition for habeas corpus relief.

Now, the State of Texas, through Edward Sandoval, is requesting the trial court to reconsider its decision to quash the indictment of a nepotism case filed on Minerva Peña, due to a clerks delay in filing the order and claims the same “power,” the defendant he charged was citing before filing a petition of habeas corpus. Thus, it ‘s rather ironic.

In any case, Edward Sandoval also cited a dissenting judge in his “Motion to Rescind.” He also failed to provide the actual decision from State v. Wachtendorf, 476 S. W. 3d 895, 905 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015) (C.J. Keller, dissenting).

Essentially, its truly a discretionary act at this point and the “Motion to Rescind,” is not the right path, but we will allow Edward Sandoval to figure out the proper path, as the other defendant he tried such a tactic with is in proper process to correct such wrongs.

In the decision cited by Edward Sandoval, it should be noted the appeal was dismissed for “want of jurisdiction,” regardless of any deprivation to the State of Texas.