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Hays County district clerk sues district attorney for 'neglect of his duties'

Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

The Hays County district clerk is suing District Attorney Kelly Higgins and asking that he be removed from office.

Avrey Anderson claims Higgins demonstrated “intentional, corrupt failure and neglect of his duties" by refusing to prosecute cases of simple drug possession and low-level marijuana offenses, and where doctors have illegally treated transgender patients or performed abortions.

“Allowing him to continue as District Attorney undermines the very laws of our state that he swore to uphold,” the lawsuit reads. “These same laws were laws that he was charged to defend and instead he abused his official capacity to counteract our legislature thus undermining our process itself.”

Higgins ran for DA on the promise he would not use taxpayer funds to prosecute these types of cases and aimed to reduce Hays County's jail population.

"This is a matter of conscience for me. ... I cannot charge medical patients with crimes," he said on his website about prosecuting abortion cases. "Only the presence of other criminal activity, such as human trafficking, could provoke prosecution by my office."

Several district attorneys across Texas have made similar stances to not prosecute cases related to abortion, elections or marijuana possession.

Anderson's lawsuit cites House Bill 17, a state law that went into effect this month allowing courts to remove district attorneys for misconduct if they choose not to pursue certain types of crimes.

Republican lawmakers said this law would help rein in "rogue" district attorneys in left-leaning counties.

Both Anderson and Higgins are newly elected and began their terms in January. Anderson, who graduated from Dripping Springs High School in 2021, unseated a three-term incumbent at only 19 years old.

Maya Fawaz is KUT's Hays County reporter. Got a tip? Email her at mfawaz@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @mayagfawaz.
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