Moving forward: Judge to recuse herself from Vargas’ DWI Case

Trustee Michael Vargas stands before the judge during his Tuesday morning arraignment at the Cameron County Courthouse.
(Photo by Freddy Jimenez)

Special to the NEWS

During Tuesday’s arraignment over his July 5 arrest for driving while intoxicated, San Benito Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees President Michael A. Vargas was unable to enter a plea at the Cameron County Courthouse in Brownsville.

Presiding Judge Estela Chavez Vazquez expects to recuse herself from Vargas’ case after a hearing at Cameron County Court at Law #5.

“Actually, the judge intends to recuse herself,” said Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz referring to Chavez-Vazquez after the hearing. “Nothing was determined other than she ordered the defendant to install the interlock device (on vehicle).”

The media and people who showed up to the hearing were not sure exactly what had transpired, some only hearing about the need to install the interlock device in his vehicle.

Before Chavez-Vasquez took the decision to bar media from the courtroom, Vargas waited in the chambers while other defendants of various charges, including DWIs, waited inside as well.

Even though there have been reports that Vargas has a new court date set for Oct. 31, Saenz said that is not the case, because once the judge recuses herself, “it stops everything right there.”

Saenz said once Chavez-Vasquez recuses herself formally, a new judge will be appointed by a judge of the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region of Texas, which is based in Corpus Christi.

“That judge will appoint somebody else and that (appointed) judge will come in and will pick up where she left off.”

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