EDINBURG — The deposition of convicted former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño by one of his ex-challengers suing him over illegal campaign contributions is set to continue on Friday.
But don’t expect anyone to post live updates from defense lawyer Preston Henrichson’s office in Edinburg.
Judge Rudy Delgado ruled Wednesday that Treviño may be deposed for another hour and 48 minutes — after already more than four hours of testimony was collected Aug. 1.
A co-counsel of Javier Peña, the lead lawyer representing former sheriff’s candidate Robert Caples, tweeted quotes and other responses the former sheriff gave during that deposition from his law firm’s Twitter account.
Questions at the wide-ranging deposition spanned from Treviño’s law enforcement career and background to his alleged involvement with Tomas Gonzalez, the convicted drug trafficker linked to the former sheriff.
Treviño was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering, after he admitted to taking thousands from Gonzalez for his re-election campaign.
That gave Caples an opportunity to pursue his lawsuit against Treviño, accusing him of accepting Gonzalez’s cash via former Cmdr. Jose “Joe” Padilla, who has pleaded guilty to a bribery charge and is set for sentencing in September alongside Gonzalez.
Texas Election Code allows candidates to sue their opponents for twice the value of illegal campaign contributions.
Henrichson told the court Wednesday that some of Peña’s questions at the deposition angered the former sheriff.
“I felt I needed to restrain him because I felt like he was getting so upset at the nature and types of questions being asked that I felt I needed to keep him from doing or saying something that — I needed to restrain him from Mr. Peña, basically,” Henrichson said. “I didn’t want him to engage Mr. Peña in some type of retaliatory action. Obviously, I didn’t need to do that, but I was concerned about it.”
Henrichson cut off the Aug. 1 deposition short of the six-hour length that had been set, “because of the abuse of witness and abuse of me, and I’m not willing to put up with any more snide remarks or — or insulting remarks,” he said, according to a transcript of the hearing leaked to and tweeted by former Monitor reporter Dave Hendricks, who left the newspaper in June.
That leaked transcript also played into Wednesday’s hearing, as Henrichson argued it had been improperly made public.
Henrichson entered 18 pieces of evidence during the hearing — mainly copies of tweets from Peña’s law firm, Hendricks and Sergio Chapa, interactive director at KGBT-TV, who’d retweeted some of the updates from the Aug. 1 deposition. Also included was a copy of the deposition transcript.
“These tweets could have gone to China and back and likely the media already had the deposition and that it would be hard to put the horse back in the barn,” Judge Delgado said. “Mr. Henrichson, you mentioned it was more akin to pigeons going out there and spraying on everybody. Well, it’s out.”
Both lawyers filed countering motions to sanction each other following the deposition. Delgado set both lawyers’ requests for sanctions aside on Wednesday, instructing them to move forward in the case.
Henrichson also asked Delgado to seal the 97-page document from disclosure, but the 93rd state District Court judge denied that, since he’d already entered it as evidence in the case on Wednesday.
But any transcript of the remaining deposition set for Friday would not be allowed to go public without his authorization, “as the need arises,” Delgado said.
Caples has long accused Treviño of corruption, even before his Republican candidacy for sheriff during the 2012 election cycle. He went on to form American Protection Specialists, a secretive group of current and former law enforcement officers and others focused on exposing local corruption.