EDINBURG, Texas – A state District Judge has issued a temporary restraining order to stop Hidalgo County Commissioner Elesvia “Ellie” Torres and her campaign from publishing advertisements that say her challenger is “guilty.”
In the ads, Torres claimed Homero “Homer” Jasso, Jr., her opponent in the Democratic Party primary, was found “guilty” of violating the City Charter during his time as an Edinburg City Council member.
Jasso had a small stake in a tire company. The tire company had business with the city council. Jasso did not recuse himself when it came to voting on a matter related to the tire company. He did not do so based on legal advice that his part ownership was not significant. The City Council, which included Torres’ husband, David Torres, found him “guilty” of violating the City Charter. However, the 332nd state District Court overturned the City Council’s vote and ordered it be set aside.
Judge Joe Ramirez, who presides in the 464th state District Court, wrote:
“Homer Jasso, plaintiff in this case, has filed a verified petition for a temporary injunction and, in connection therewith, have presented a request for a temporary restraining order, as set forth in his Original Petition,” Ramirez wrote.
“It clearly appears from the facts set forth in Plaintiffs verified petition that unless the defendant is immediately restrained from publishing the campaign advertisement stating that her opponent, Homer Jasso, Jr., was found “guilty” of violating the City Charter for the City of Edinburg while Mr. Jasso was a member of Edinburg City Council and that he and his friends illegally profited from the City of Edinburg, it will continue to harm the Plaintiff’s personal reputation.
“Further, the Plaintiff will suffer immediate and irreparable injury, for which there is no adequate remedy at law to give Plaintiff complete, final, and equitable relief.”
More specifically, Judge Ramirez wrote, “”Plaintiff will show the court that the harm to Plaintiff is imminent because early voting is ongoing and the Primary Election date is scheduled for March 01, 2022.”
Furthermore, Judge Ramirez wrote, “the effect of the defamatory comments upon the final election results would be difficult to determine, and the Plaintiff’s losses would be incalculable. Such result constitutes a loss for which no remedy would be available to make the Plaintiff whole.”
Judge Ramirez ordered that Torres and her campaign is “restrained from further publishing the false and defamatory statements in any form or through any medium.”
Judge Ramirez further ordered that Torres appear in person before the 464th Court on March 1.
The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether, while the case is pending, the application for temporary injunction should be granted.
Judge Ramirez signed the TRO on Feb. 23, 2022.
Jasso engaged the Griffith Law Firm in the case. David L. Flores, Jasso’s attorney sent a Cease and Desist letter to Elesvia Torres on Feb. 16, 2022.
Here is a copy of the letter:
Dear Ms. Torres:
Please be advised that my firm has been retained to represent Homero “Homer” Jasso, Jr., regarding this Demand to Cease and Desist and Request to Retract and Correct Publication. As you know, a campaign advertisement was distributed by you and/or on your behalf, and published via television, social media, and other outlets. The campaign advertisement claims that Mr. Jasso was found “guilty” of violating the Edinburg City Charter and other illegal acts.
As you undoubtedly know, on April 27, 2018, the 332nd District Court, in Cause No. C-0599-18-F, overturned the City Council’s vote finding Mr. Jasso guilty of violating the City Charter and ordered that the Council’s vote be set aside. In its ruling, the Court decreed that the City Council, of which your husband, David Torres, was a member, acted arbitrarily and abused its discretion. Accordingly, your recent publication as described above is demonstrably false and constitutes libel.
I demand that you immediately cease the use and distribution of all advertisements which include the false statement(s) identified above, in any form. Further request to for you to retract and false statements published and/or otherwise sponsored by you. If I have not received an affirmative response from you by 10:00 AM on Thursday, February 17, 2022, indicating that you have fully complied with the demands made herein, my client has authorized me to file suit against you, and to take any and all legal remedies that may be available to him to rectify this situation.
Jasso issued this statement in response to Judge Ramirez’s TRO:
“From the very beginning of my campaign Ellie and I had promised to run a clean and positive campaign. I was very disappointed to see that my opponent not only chose to go negative but resorted to lies and false allegations. This is the exact type of politics that Hidalgo County does not deserve and we should demand better from our leadership. We should be running on merit, experience and qualifications. If my opponent can’t run on her qualifications and record as a County Commissioner, then she should not hold public office. It is my hope that the citizens of Hidalgo County see passed these tactics and that their vote serve as a direct intolerance for lies.”
Jasso added: “As always, I put my faith in the justice system and the citizens of this county.”
Editor’s Note: The Rio Grande Guardian will add Torres’ response as soon as it becomes available.
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