Texas Bar fines Starr County DA for indicting woman with murder over abortion

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The State Bar of Texas’ Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel has fined and imposed a probated suspension against Starr County District Attorney Gocha A. Ramirez for indicting a woman who sought an abortion in 2022 on a charge of murder.

Claire Reynolds, public affairs counsel for the bar, confirmed Thursday morning that ruling against Ramirez was over the indictment of Lizelle Herrera, who on Aug. 8, 2022, was arrested on a charge of murder because she sought a “self-induced abortion.”

On April 10, 2022, Ramirez issued a press release saying that the charge against Herrera would be dismissed.

“In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her,” the release stated.

The case set off a firestorm across the United States as media outlets and advocacy groups learned of the charges against Herrera, which were first reported by The Monitor.

Attempts to reach Herrera at the time were not successful.

The judgment against Ramirez followed an investigative hearing that happened on March 1, 2023 and Dec. 6, 2023.

The committee found that assistant district attorneys under Ramirez’s supervision pursued criminal homicide charges against Herrera for acts that were “clearly not criminal.”

“Respondent failed to refrain from prosecuting a charge that was known not to be supported by probable cause,” the order states.

It further said that an assistant district attorney consulted with Ramirez prior to presenting the case against Herrera to a grand jury.

Gocha Ramirez

“Respondent knowingly permitted the conduct of the Assistant District Attorney under his direct supervision,” the order stated. “With knowledge of the violation of disciplinary rules by Respondent’s Assistant District Attorneys, Respondent knowingly failed to take reasonable remedial action to avoid or mitigate the consequences of the Assistant District Attorneys.”

Ramirez denied that he was aware of the facts of the case, “nor that he was ever briefed on the facts of the case, prior to the matter being presented to the Grand Jury.”

“In connection with the investigation made the basis of this disciplinary matter, Respondent knowingly made a false statement of material fact in his written response to the complaint,” the order stated.

The State Bar of Texas fined Ramirez $1,250 for violating the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

“The period of probated suspension shall begin on April 1, 2024 and shall end on March 31, 2025,” the order states.