The El Paso Courts of Inquiry: Nine Years Later

When Theresa Caballero and Stuart Leeds looked for justice for their client via a rarely used court procedure and Judge Richard A. Roman signed the order convening the first Court of Inquiry in El Paso in many years, many in the city were aghast at the two attorneys and a judge who dared challenge the political status quo of the city. Little did the community know back then that the court of inquiries, six more soon followed, were the beginning of exposing the rampant corruption many talked about but many more pretended did not exist.

I was there at the beginning of courts of inquiry and was the only one that reported on them from beginning until the end. Although I’m not trained as a journalist I had to take my haphazard grammar and inability to write a coherent sentence in order to fill a void in a city anxious to learn more about the dirty political undercurrent in a city best known today for the rampant public corruption scandals that continue to plague the city to this day.

It is a sad commentary that a whole city had to rely on two attorneys, steadfastly working on behalf of their client’s need for justice while at same time fighting a system intent on keeping the dirty-dealers in play because either the system was too dependent on the corruptors for its existence or because it’s just wasn’t “seemly to expose our dirty laundry to the world”, to force the exposure of the corruption in their midst.

When the news about the courts of inquiries first hit the community collective the local paper, under the tutelage of Bob Moore, wasted not even a minute attacking the notion that finding out the truth about public corruption in the police forces and the judiciary was nothing more than a political agenda. The local paper was content to attack the messengers rather than look closely at the problems they were exposing.

The reason was that the use of the courts of inquiry threatened to undermine the carefully crafted erroneous message that public corruption existed only south of the border that the local paper and the local politicos had crafted over the years.

Then, as today, the general mantra emanating from the chambers of commerce, the local governmental entities’ and those in power is that “El Paso, it’s all good”. “We are the safest city” they all collectively proclaim today as they did back then.

As it was then it is today just a pig covered in makeup.

El Paso is nothing more than a façade of “it’s all good” covering up a corrupt underbelly so corrupt that no amount of makeup can keep the stench away no matter how hard the so-called community leaders try to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Then, as today, it is the “crazies that are keeping our city down” they utter in mock astonishment as even more people rise up to say “ya basta”.

On January 21, 2004 two attorneys and one judge had the courage to demand an investigation into the city’s corruption. They were publicly chastised and ridiculed for doing what others lacked the courage to do. Coincidently at about the same time the FBI’s Agent in Charge abruptly resigned amid drug cartel related impropriety and as far as we know today, that same agency started an investigation into public corruption in El Paso that has led to the incarceration, indictments and convictions of at least thirty so-called community leaders for public corruption and countless others that even today remain under the radar.

Theresa Caballero, Stuart Leeds and Richard Roman had the courage to demand better in their community. Jaime Esparza, Carlos Leon and Richard Wiles, all in a position to investigate and prosecute public corruption in the city have yet to step forward and account for their lack of action in the many corruption scandals of the city. All three were named in the courts of inquiry.


Tomorrow I’ll connect some dots for you about the city public corruption that El Paso’s fearless leaders pretend doesn’t exist because, as you know “it’s all good”.