It is never good to annoy a judge during a trial. Yet, that is what John V. Garza, former Republican state representative from San Antonio, did in federal court earlier this week. In the lawsuit concerning alleged racial gerrymandering by the Republican party, Mr. Garza testified about a conversation with other state representatives in 2011. The case alleges re-districting was motivated by racial concerns, so possible racial remarks by any of the state representatives are important. The Democrats allege that GOP lawmakers swapped low turnout districts with high turnout districts. State Rep. Joe Farias, Dem- San Antonio, alleged that John Garza said he wanted more Mexicans in his district. This conversation occurred in a meeting also attended by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon.
So, when Mr. Garza took the stand, Judge Xavier Rodriguez, a Republican appointee himself, asked some follow-on questions:
Mr. Garza: I deny saying that. I don’t know why he would say I had said something like that.
Judge: Did you ever say such a thing like that?
Mr. Garza: I don’t remember.
Judge: You do not recall anything like that?
Mr. Garza: I did not make a remark like that in state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon’s presence.
. . . . (later) . . .
Judge: Re-stated the question, asking Mr. Garza not to qualify his answer.
Mr. Garza: I believe it is my right to to qualify it.
Judge: That answers the question for me.
See San Antonio Express News report (account required). Judge Rodriguez is one of three judges who will decide the case. The testimony concerns important remarks. How the witness responds often says as much as the answer itself. It appears that, at least regarding this issue, Judge Rodriguez has reached certain doubts about Mr. Garza’s truthfulness. All Mr. Garza had to do was answer directly. Evasion rarely profits the witness.