There's an effort underway to remove a Tarrant County constable from office.
The reason: He was intoxicated early one morning last summer at his home when he was off duty.
"This is clearly politically and family motivated," said Garcia's attorney, Francisco Hernandez. "It has no relation or bearing to public service."
At issue is what happened around 3 a.m. June 10, 2017, when Garcia called 911 and asked for an officer to respond to his home, the lawsuit states.
Two officers responded, noting that Garcia smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and was "highly intoxicated" when he requested a protective order. The officers told him they couldn't give him that and asked that he contact the district attorney's office.
"That intoxication was caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage," according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Benny Ortiz on June 1. "His intoxication is grounds for removal" from office.
But Hernandez said the only reason Garcia called the police in the first place was because he was threatened by Ortiz, who happens to be the boyfriend of Garcia's niece.
Beyond that, Hernandez said the constable was consuming alcohol in his own home while he was off duty.
"This isn’t a politically motivated case," said Ortiz's attorney, William S. Nolen of Colleyville. "It's about a drunk elected official that Tarrant County is liable for.
"The Government Code sets forth specific elected public officials that are bound to follow the law and Defendant Garcia, Jr. blatantly chose to disregard that."
The arcane law used in this case — Texas Local Government Code 87 provision — is occasionally used.
But not often, said Shannon Edmonds, a staff attorney with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.
"It’s a process that is not unheard of, but anecdotally throughout the entire state and thousands of elected officials, we usually come across two or three a year," Edmonds said.
There are at least two high-profile cases where it was used.
One was in 2013, after then-Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested on a charge of drunken driving.
The other was in 2015, after then-Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk sought treatment for prescription drug addiction and abuse. That petition claimed she was incompetent.
The Code 87 provision lets petitions be filed against officials ranging from district attorneys and county judges to county surveyors and constables.
The main reasons cited: incompetency, official misconduct or intoxication.
But the statute notes that "intoxication is not a ground for removal if it appears at the trial that the intoxication was caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage on the direction and prescription of a licensed physician practicing in this state."
"The statute clearly says intoxication on or off duty," Edmonds said, noting that once an official is elected to office in Texas, "you're not supposed to get intoxicated."
In Texas, constables often serve legal documents in evictions, truancy, child support and child custody cases.
In the Tarrant County case, the two officers who responded to Garcia's call last summer signed sworn affidavits that the constable was intoxicated.
The lawsuit says that Ortiz "further requests this court sign an order of removal of Constable Ruben Garcia Jr. from his office of Tarrant County Constable."
"It is not improper for somebody to consume alcohol in their home," Hernandez said.
On Monday, 236th District Judge Tom Lowe recused himself from this lawsuit and asked that it be assigned to a different judge.
Garcia has served as the precinct 5 constable since 2012.