A judge held McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos in contempt of court Monday after he failed to show up for a trial he was slated to serve in as a defense attorney.
Villalobos, however, told the Progress Times Tuesday that he had previously indicated that he wouldn’t be available and that he sent a representative to reiterate that to the court in person Monday.
“I had talked to the judge and the district attorney, that I was not available,” he said.
Court records show that Villalobos represented Aaron Rivas, who was accused of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of unauthorized use of a vehicle in 2022.
Judge Marla Cuellar called Rivas’ case to trial in the 275th District Court Monday afternoon.
Cuellar was there. Rivas. A bailiff, prosecutors — even a jury, selected that morning.
But no Villalobos.
First Assistant District Attorney Alex Benavides said another attorney did show up, telling the court that Villalobos was out of town.
Still, the court’s bailiff called out Villalobos’ name three times in the courthouse, court records show.
They also show that Cuellar appointed Rivas a new attorney.
Benavides said Cuellar held Villalobos in contempt of court. He said it’s not particularly common for that to happen.
“Most of the time when lawyers have a case set for trial they show up,” he said.
According to Benavides, Cuellar will set a contempt hearing, after which Villalobos could face some sort of sanctions.
Villalobos, who spent the first part of the week talking about McAllen bridge issues with Mexican officials in Mexico City, said he wasn’t yet aware he was being held in contempt and couldn’t say much about it.
“I haven’t the slightest. Nobody’s told me,” he said with a chuckle.
Villalobos dismissed the idea about there being some kind of miscommunication and firmly maintained that he’d communicated that he would be out of town.
“If I’m not available, I’m not available,” he said.
Cuellar could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.