El Paso judge blocks Texas AG Ken Paxton’s effort to close Annunciation House

District Judge Francisco Dominguez said the effort to seek records from Annunciation House may have had a “predetermined” outcome of closing the nonprofit.

By Robert Moore, El Paso MattersMarch 11, 2024 12:28 pm

From El Paso Matters:

Attorney General Ken Paxton “acted without regard to due process and fair play” in seeking to shut down a leading migrant service provider, an El Paso judge said Monday in a ruling that blocks the state’s efforts for now.

“The Attorney General’s efforts to run roughshod over Annunciation House, without regard to due process or fair play, call into question the true motivation for the Attorney General’s attempt to prevent Annunciation House from providing the humanitarian and social services that it provides. There is a real and credible concern that the attempt to prevent Annunciation House from conducting business in Texas was predetermined,” 205th District Judge Francisco Dominguez said in his ruling.

Dominguez said Annunciation House’s petition for declaratory judgment means the case is governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which essentially blocks any action by Paxton until the court reviews the case.

The judge denied motions from Annunciation House to issue a temporary injunction or quash the attorney general’s request to examine its documents. But his ruling saying the case is subject to court rules has a similar effect of blocking further action in the case until Dominguez can review arguments about the constitutionality of Paxton’s request.

The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure provide a timeline on the production of documents in a civil lawsuit.

Ruben Garcia, the founder and director of Annunciation House, said he was grateful for the judge’s ruling. He said Paxton’s actions could threaten businesses across Texas.

“It kind of sends a shiver through all incorporated entities in the state of Texas, because people are going to ask, does this mean that the attorney general feels that they have the authority to arrive at any institution, any business, any entity, and just walk up and say, we are submitting a request to examine. And I think that’s a really fundamental question about whether that’s a way to function,” Garcia said.

Paxton’s office has not responded to a request for comment.