Commissioner Lisa Birkman’s “Legacy”: Roads not Lawsuits

Commissioner Lisa Birkman

Outgoing Pct 1 Commissioner Lisa Birkman attended a ground breaking ceremony for RM 620 improvements on Monday. According to the Statesman, Birkman said the project will be a part of her legacy as a commissioner. “I’m glad to be doing this before leaving office,” she said. “I had asked to make sure they could get it started at the end of this year.”

Commissioner Birkman may think RM 620 improvements may be her “legacy”, but she will always be remembered most as one of the Commissioners who was found to have violated a mans constitutional rights. That, along with the other countless lawsuits over her tenure that have cost the tax payers millions and millions of dollars to litigate or settle.

The latest law suit has cost tax payers, to date, over $700,000. The final bill to tax payers is not yet in but expected to reach close to $1,500,000 (1.5 million). In 2013, Commissioners Cynthia Long and Birkman asked illegal questions in an interview and were recently found, by a Federal Judge, to have violated the applicants constitutional rights.

The Statesman also reported (as we did months ago) Birkman said she is no longer considering a run to lead the Commissioners Court as county judge. But she did not rule out running for elected office in the future. For now, Birkman said she plans to travel with her husband and begin planning for a new political consulting services business.

Several are speculating her first client as a “political consultant” may be Commissioner Cynthia Long who has told several “insiders” she plans to run for County Judge in the 2018 Republican Primary. A run most are predicting will end in disaster based on several issues that will ultimately emerge.

Birkman, attempting to remain relevant, has also hinted a future run in politics. With her recent move to Georgetown, many are guessing she will make a run at the State Rep position currently held by Terry Wilson.

Based on her future political aspirations and those of Long for County Judge, many residents are stunned either would even consider a future in politics much less higher office.

One long time Republican resident in Georgetown said “I’m speechless. I really am. For either of them to think they have a political promotion in their future is mind-boggling. Tone deaf politicians never learn. Apparently breaking the law and costing us a boat load of tax dollars doesn’t apply to them or they think we are stupid. Let em’ run, the voters will remind them who is in charge at the ballot box. We won’t forget. They may think we will, but we won’t, that I promise”. 

 

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Jana Duty’s Cold Case Conviction “Legacy” Ends In Disaster

Jana Duty

In what could be one of the biggest prosecutorial debacles in Williamson County since the 1987 conviction of Michael Morton, Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty’s “legacy” of Cold Case prosecutions took a major blow today. Duty, who has only tried two felony cases in her career, will see both end in complete disaster. One resulted in mistrial and the other has now been “REVERSED AND ACQUITTAL RENDERED” according to the Third Court of Appeals.

In 2013, Duty tried a murder cold case against Rex Nesbitt. Nesbitt was accused of killing his estranged wife, Vicki Lynn Nisbett, even though her body was never found. The case was appealed and this morning, the Third Court of Appeals ruled:

“Having reviewed the record and the parties’ arguments, the Court holds that there was reversible error in the trial court’s judgment of conviction. Therefore, the Court reverses the trial court’s judgment of conviction and renders a judgment of acquittal. Appellant is discharged from all further liability for the offense of murder as charged in the indictment. Having concluded that the evidence is legally insufficient to support appellant’s conviction for murder, we reverse the trial court’s judgment of conviction and render a judgment of acquittal.”

Now Duty has a tough decision to make. Does she file a Petition of Discretionary Review? According to sources, Duty has not been at the DA’s office in quite some time so this would create a challenge. Then again, since she has no real knowledge of appellate law, she could pick up the phone (from wherever she is) and order her appellate attorney to do so.

A PDR is merely a petition asking the Court of Criminal Appeals to review the findings. The petition for discretionary review must be filed within 30 days after issuance of the decision or order. If no PDR is filed within the allotted time-frame, then it’s over and double jeopardy laws would bar any further actions in this case, even if new evidence surfaced against Nesbitt.

This ruling deals yet another major blow to Duty’s already questionable judgement, credibility and competency to practice law. Her entire failed 2016 re-election campaign centered around the Nesbitt conviction. Duty published campaign mail pieces touting the conviction and even wrote a lengthy essay that was published by the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association about the case titled “No body, no murder? Not necessarily”.

Duty concluded the essay stating “Sadly, we did not accomplish our main goal, which was to bring Vicki’s remains back to her family. Instead, we will just have to be satisfied with a “guilty” verdict and a 42-year sentence.” Unfortunately for the victims family, that “guilty verdict” too, has ended in failure. Duty has only 15 days left in office, and for many, January 1, 2017 can’t come quickly enough.

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Defense of Cynthia Long’s Illegal Actions: 700k And Counting

The legal bills are flowing in for the taxpayer funded representation of Commissioners Cynthia Long, Lisa Birkman and Val Covey who were found earlier this month to have violated the constitutional rights of an applicant. Brad Stutzman will the Statesman reported yesterday a new batch of bills have hit and much more is expected.

To date, the county has spent just over $400,000 in legal fees, plus another $100,000 in settlements with two other applicants who joined the suit from 2013.

Stutzman reported:

On Tuesday, officials noted the County Auditor’s office has another $200,000 in legal fees are under review.

The above $200,000 does NOT include additional legal billing from the attorneys representing Long, Birkman and Covey from November and December.

Stutzman also reported:

When asked Tuesday, County Judge Dan Gattis distanced himself from commissioners Lisa Birkman, Cynthia Long and Valerie Covey. “(The late Commissioner) Ron Morrison and I did not ask those questions,” he said.

The legal bills tax payers are on the hook for, to represent Long, Birkman and Covey’s illegal actions stand at $700,000. But it gets worse for tax payers. Gattis and Hawes said it’s possible Lloyd could ask the judge to make Williamson County pay what it cost them to take the case to court. That could reach over $500,000. Dr. Paulo Pinto and many other citizens have publicly stated their disgust. Below is from the Statesman.

Dr. Paulo Pinto, a former director for the Williamson County and Cities Health District, chastised commissioners during the citizen’s comment portion of Tuesday’s agenda.

“From what I have read in the newspapers you have been found guilty of suppressing the rights of Mr. Lloyd as he applied for a job with the county,” Pinto said. “It’s very shameful that you would do that to begin with and that you thought you have a right to do that.”

“You’re spending our money,” Pinto said, in reference to the legal bills and out-of-court settlements.”You don’t have to pay us back”.

Pinto, who said he’s lived in Williamson County for 35 years, told commissioners they should publicly apologize.

Commissioners did not comment on Pinto’s remarks. Commissioners have in the past noted they are legally prohibited from commenting on issues not specifically posted on their agenda.

Commissioners may be legally prohibited from commenting but they are not prohibited from being respectful to those addressing the Court. Judge Gattis and Commissioner Madsen were attentive while Pinto spoke. However, Cynthia Long and Lisa Birkman were not. Long, who has made it clear to many in her “inner circle” she is running for County Judge in 2018, ignored and refused to look at Pinto and typed on her lap top the entire time Pinto spoke. Birkman was also very disrespectful,  shuffling papers, typing on her lap top and stared in the opposite direction while Pinto spoke.

Commissioner Cynthia Long

We now know the legal bill outstanding owed by tax payers is at $700,000. We also know the months of November and December are not included in this total which could easily add another $100,000. Now we know the tax payers could also be liable for Lloyd’s legal bills. That could easily land at $500,000.

Given this, the tax payers of Williamson County will possibly be on the hook, paying close to 1.5 million dollars for the illegal actions of Long, Birkman and Covey. A price tag many feel Long, Birkman and Covey should pay themselves.

We are working on another MAJOR breaking story and will report on that later this afternoon.

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Judge Rick Kennon: Rated Top Judge In Williamson County

 Judge Rick Kennon

For the second year in a row, 368th District Judge Rick Kennon has received the top judge rating from the Williamson County Bar Association.

Kennon is known to be one of, if not the, hardest working Judges in Williamson County. He is highly respected for his knowledge of the law and impartiality. Kennon is also described as being one of the most even-tempered Judges in not just Williamson County but all of Central Texas. One long-time litigator stated “Williamson County is very fortunate to have such a great Judge. He serves his county well.”

Judge Kennon said “I consider it a great privilege to be a Judge and I am pleased and humbled to know I’m able to make a difference. My fellow judges and I work hard for the people of Williamson County and I am honored to go to work in the 368th every day.”

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Cynthia Long Violates Policy and the Lisa Birkman Meltdown

Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long, fresh off being found to have violated the US constitution, recently violated a countywide policy she voted to institute.

The December 6, 2016 Commissioner Court agenda stated:

Discuss, consider and take appropriate action on an increase to the Commissioner Precinct Two budget for PCN #1674.

This raised red flags to several people both inside of county government and out. This issue at hand was the transferring one of Commissioner Lisa Birkman’s employees from Pct. 1 Commissioner’s Office to Pct. 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long’s office. Apparently this employee was not going to be retained by the incoming Commissioner so Lisa Birkman and Cynthia Long decided to move the employee under Cynthia Long.

This move would have taken funds from Pct 1. Commissioner’s budget, moving them to Pct. 2 Commissioner’s budget. Problem is, there was not enough funds in Pct. 2 Commissioner’s budget to cover the expenses associated with the transfer. They were $826.00 short. In order to cover the deficit, Long placed the funds transfer on the agenda, essentially removing funds from another county department, violating a policy she put in place earlier in her tenure.

Other department heads and elected officials have attempted the same procedure and were told no by the court citing the policy.

Ashlie Koeing, Wilco Budget Officer testified that transferring money from one department to another would “open up Pandora’s box”, allowing other departments to move funds around creating a nightmare scenario for auditing purposes.

Koening indicated this would also increase the budget to the tax payer next budget year. Judge Gattis said “The policy is you can’t do it and we move on”. 

Long then said:“There were other ways I could have done this which wouldn’t have been appropriate”, a statement many viewed as shocking coming from someone who was found just last week to have violated a man’s constitutional rights. Judge Gattis maintained his stance this would violate policy but Long pressed on.

Covey at one point stated “If somebody can tell me why it’s not a good idea other than it’s a county issue I don’t see it”, essentially being fine with violating the policy. The Human Resources Director then said it could create issues for the incoming commissioner.

Long then stated “Judge what would be your solution.” Gattis then said “My solution, she would have to take a pay cut”.

Lisa Birkman then slammed her hand down, scoffed, tossed her ink pen and said “that’s unacceptable”. Birkman then said “That really is, that’s not fair to someone who has been here 12 years”.

Discussion went on in length. Ultimately a decision was made to transfer the funds out of the county “contingency” fund, not only violating the countywide policy, but also increasing the county budget for next year.

Gattis then stated the motion by Cynthia Long and seconded by Birkman to move funds from the “contingency fund” to fully fund the employees transfer. Gattis went to to say “Again I’m going to tell you I’m voting against this and I will continue to do so”. 

One county employee who commented on the condition of anonymity stated: “They just violated policy, a policy they created. The same one that they always point to telling everyone else ‘no’. I’m curious, did Long post that vacant position so everyone else could apply for it? This is typical Cynthia Long; ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Not a big surprise though, she was just found to have violated the Constitution of the United States so what’s a little county policy.”

One tax payer in the private sector said: “For Lisa Birkman to throw a snit fit is ridiculous. In these hard economic times, I personally feel she and Long should just be thankful their employee still has a job, but instead did another backroom deal at my expense. I’ve had to make many tough decisions and cut few long time employees salaries much more than 826 dollars, and hard as it was, those employees were thankful to have kept their jobs. It’s hard, and I hate it, but my business has to survive. I have employees and customers who depend on me. The private sector isn’t given the same luxury as the government who thinks it’s ok to dip in to a tax payer funded slush account. This smacks of crony politics and political favoritism. While private sector employees go without yearly raises and incur massive increases to insurance, these government employees are coddled with great benefits, yearly raises and still want more. But then again, it’s not their money and attempting to minimize it by saying “it’s only 826.00″ shows just how out of touch with tax payer money they really are.”  

 

 

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Hutto Councilman Michael Smith’s 3 Million Dollar Bond Boondoggle

Councilman Michael Smith

In 2008, a 3.3 million dollar bond was approved by residents of Hutto. The final vote was 361 FOR and 340 AGAINST. The bond initiative was for several items we will detail below. Ultimately, this past July, four Hutto City Council members rammed the project through in a controversial 3-4 split vote. The approval spends the 3.3 million dollars on a project that was much different than proposed to voters in 2008/2009 and ultimately passed by voters in the 2009 November election.

In 2008, a proposed project for Fritz Park was initiated. The “Fritz Park Master Plan” project specified several key areas the 3.3 million dollars would be used for. Specific costs established in the “Master Plan” which were publicly distributed are listed below.

Phase I Cost – $900,000.00 – The first phase of the Fritz Park Master Plan construction of elements as outlined in the plan adopted by City Council December 2008. This phase will include an internal walking trail within Fritz Park, possible fitness elements along the trail, tennis courts renovation, additional irrigation and electrical as plans are designed, an additional parking lot at the end of Park Street.

Phase II Cost – $1,368,000.00 – The second phase of the Fritz Park Master Plan construction of elements as outlined in the plan adopted by City Council December 2008. This phase will include but is not limited to walking trail along Park Street to the football and Baseball/Softball fields; redesign of both the football and baseball/softball fields; addition of a concession stand/storage/restroom facility and adjacent parking lot; playground units and entry point signage.

Park land Aquisitions – $1,000,000.00 – The citizens approved funding to obtain future parkland during the November 2009 bond election. The approval gives the City Council the authority to secure future parkland once property becomes available. The funding does not include the costs for improving the parkland but helps ensure that the City has parkland secured for future generations.

The initial proposal by Parks Director Mike Hemker was approved in late 2008. According to the city website, the final proposal was approved in August of 2009 by City Council and ultimately placed on the Nov 2009 ballot.

Even though every public presentation, bond-election-pamphlet, press release and news article focused on Fritz Park and the specifics of the project, the bond initiative was vaguely worded, giving council power to appropriate the funds as they saw fit. The bond narrowly passed by 21 votes.

Fast forward seven years. In July 2016, the current City Council, now facing a fast approaching bond expiration, proposed approving the 3.3 million dollars to be spent on a project far from what was sold to residents in 2008/2009. Council members Michael Smith and Ann Cano were on the council in 2009 and ultimately approved the final projects associated with the November 2009 bond initiative.

During discussion session in the July 7, 2016 meeting, Council member Nate Killough questioned the plan in detail, opposing the updated proposal. “So at the end of the day, we are going to pay 3 million dollars, rearranging the softball fields, we’re going to move the football fields 40 yards and out of that 3 million dollars the only thing we are gaining is a rest room/concession stand?” Parks Director Mike Hemker said “and about 6,000 square feet of storage but an acceptable restroom”.

The meeting continued for an hour with much debate, heated at times. The exorbitant costs of a “grand entryway” to the fields was mentioned by council member Valdez. Valdez equated the entryway to the Roman coliseum and stated he felt this could be done at a much less expense.

As discussion went on, further scaled down versions of the original plan approved by voters were also flushed out. There will be no bleachers or seats in the new stadium, only staggered rows of concrete to sit on. Seating, gone. The playground, gone. Batting cages, gone. The parking lot, gone. The internal walking trail, gone. Restoring the tennis courts, gone. Landscaping, gone. The 1 million for future park land, gone.

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According to documents obtained from the City, in 2010, the field restorations, concession stand and restroom alone would have cost $1,368,000.00 to build. Those three alone will now cost the entire 3.3 million. At one point during discussion, it was discovered the drawings of the proposed project given to the council that night were not even a true representation of what would be built.

Council member Tom Hines also expressed his concerns of the high costs and the lack of delivering on what the residents were proposed in 2009. “If we scale this back then maybe we can put the trail in, maybe we could put the play ground in, maybe we could install bench seats in the stadium and add the parking lot.”

Councilman Michael Smith then interjected: “We’ve we’ve had seven years of input on this now. People have had seven years if they didn’t like [sic] to say hey let’s move this somewhere else.”

Council member Killough then stated: “We go back to that whole thing of spending money just because it’s there and we feel we need to spend it, that’s a terrible notion to ever look at anything and say we’ve had that money and it’s been there for nine years and we need to spend it.”

Smith: “I’m not talking about spending money to spend money we have a contract with the citizens where we told then all those years ago we were going to build them a new park.”

Killough – “What are we going to give them for three million dollars?”

Smith – “A new park”

Killough – “It’s not a new park. We could do something more with that 3 million dollars. At the end of the day what I see, it’s the same thing we have right now. It’s just prettier there’s a bow tie wrapped around it and now there’s a bathroom. Minus the bathroom and the concession stand and maybe some storage it’s the same thing. For three million dollars I want more.”

Councilman Michael Smith, visibly upset, stated: “We had tons of input, we’ve had 7 years of citizens input, I think it’s bold for the seven of us up here to say we know better than all the citizens who input all these years.”

In response to Councilman Smith’s retort, Council Member Hines stated: “I have a hard time swallowing that. We aren’t bucking that. I think what we are bucking is it’s been 7 or 8 years and over that time costs have increased and we have lost buying power.”

Smith and Cano, who approved the original project in 09, then tried to justify the delays on the “bad economy”. Smith said “things were great before Ann and I got on Council and then it tanked”. Smith said it he “reigned in all of the projects because we couldn’t afford to do them.” 

Smith’s inaccurate economic assessment and a lack of action, delaying the project, cost tax payers dearly. Construction costs actually plummeted in 2009/2010 which would have offered more buying power with the funds already in place from the Bond election. Costs remained below January 2009 levels until late 2011. Now, construction costs have increased tremendously since bottoming in 2011.

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It’s important to note the 8.5 million dollar bond for street improvements began in 2012. The 5.5 million dollar bond approved YMCA began in March 2013.

After discussion, a vote was then taken to approve the project, removing the majority of items originally voted on and approved by the public in 2009. Nate Killough, Tom Hines and Lucio Valdez voted against the updated project – Michael Smith, Bettina Jordan, Ann Cano and Doug Gaul voted to approve.

Council member Michael Smith’s attempts to justify this action with excuses ranging from “the funds will expire if we don’t spend them” and “we had a contract with the citizens” to “the economy tanked” aren’t setting well with many tax payers.

One resident stated “I was told I was paying for one thing and was given something totally different. Sure I am getting a new field with a shiny new concession stand, but I was told my tax dollars would pay for MUCH more. This is just another example of poor leadership from our politicians. They could have scrapped the project, let the bond expire, put a new initiative with true costs on the ballot and let the citizens decide.”

Now, many are laser focused on the details of the new 53 million dollar bond package being proposed. We will continue providing details on that as they become available.

We will also be reporting on another violation by Commissioner Cynthia Long recently discovered. Stay tuned.

 

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Amid New Controveries Hutto Appoints New City Manager

After years of turmoil and poor leadership at the City Manager level, Hutto City Council has appointed an experienced professional to lead the city to the next level. Odis Jones, Hutto’s new City Manager, has 20 years of executive experience in local government and Economic Development organizations in both urban and suburban communities.

Jones, a staunch conservative, brings a strong, fiscally conservative approach to city government combined with a no-nonsense leadership mentality of holding department heads accountable.

Unfortunately, his appointment was not without drama by a few on the council. One even voted against his contract. Council member Nate Killough fought hard for Jones stating he will be a “beacon of leadership this city has sorely lacked for years”. Killough said “Jones will hold people accountable, be a hawk for city budgeting which will protect our tax payers and bring a wealth of knowledge from infrastructure and job creation to managed growth and stability. I am thrilled to have him on board.”

Jones arrives just in time for his first challenge, a new 53.5 Million dollar bond package that is now on the table. A portion of that is for a swimming pool; a 6 million dollar swimming pool. Navigating the “wants” ahead of “needs” mentality from a few embedded establishment insiders will be a task for Jones.

The City Council will eventually vote on placing the bond before the voters this May. This would increase taxes around $330 a year for residents of Hutto at a time when Hutto’s taxes are already the 5th highest of all 15 cities in the county.

The last bond package the citizens of Hutto voted on in 2009 ultimately ended in controversy this past July. In 2008, past council members sold the residents a bill of goods at a 3.3 million dollar price tag. The final product was approved this past July in a split 3-4 vote by Council. The final approval delivered a product nothing close to what was proposed to residents in 2008. This controversial move will be detailed in a future article.

Based on the current issues surrounding Hutto, many residents see the arrival of Jones as perfect timing. One resident stated: “When these politicians start treating the public sector as a private business, that is when you will see real change. They simply do not see tax dollars as “real money.” When they STOP giving themselves raises every year while the private sector can’t afford to do the same for their employees, then progress will be made. 

Another said: “How anyone can propose selling the notion we need a swimming pool to the tune of 6 million dollars to tax payers is beyond me. I’d like to know which council member thinks this is economically viable at such a vital time when they should be focused on economic development. This “tax and spend” mentality is what Americans across the nation are fed up with. Then again, it’s not their money so what do they care. Pandering to a few at the expense of everyone is going to stop. We will be watching and May is right around the corner. Enough is enough!”.

The majority of tax payers in Hutto have made it clear, the fat must be trimmed. Based on Jones’ history, he will do just that by placing the “needs” of Hutto ahead of “wants” of a few.

 

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Commissioners Release Statement on Federal Judges Ruling

A federal judge ruled Friday that three Williamson County commissioners violated a man’s constitutional rights when he was asked illegal questions during interviews for a constable’s position. Commissioners Cynthia Long, Lisa Birkman and a third Commissioner violated Robert Lloyd’s 14th Amendment rights.

Jay Aldis, one of the lawyers for the commissioners, said that “while the county commissioners disagree that they in any way violated any of the plaintiff’s rights, they are glad the litigation is finally over.”

“The only thing granted to the plaintiff was the same relief Williamson County agreed at the end of the trial would be an appropriate remedy — an extremely limited injunction that only prohibits the county from asking future candidates for a constable’s position on certain narrow questions, such as their views about same-sex marriage,” Aldis said.

The ruling also stated “At this point, she (Birkman) believes gay marriage is a settled issue, and is not political. She has not asked these questions of any candidate seeking appointment since the Constable interview in 2013.”

According to Spectrum News, on April 13th, 2016, two years after the Constable interview: “A question allegedly asked by a Williamson County Commissioner at a recent candidates’ forum has some worried about the county’s hiring practices. Sources say Lisa Birkman asked candidates in the run-off election for County Court at Law 2 about same sex marriage. The question was asked at a public forum and not behind closed doors.”

Many are now questioning the use of tax payer funds to pay for the defense of these Commissioners illegal actions. One of several emails received opined if it were one of the Commissioners employees tasked with conducting interviews, and the employee was found to have violated the rights of an applicant, would the Commissioner allow their employees employment to continue? Would the Commissioner hire a private attorney for their employee and have their defense paid by tax dollars?

Another email asked “Why did the Commissioners hire outside private attorneys when they have two attorneys, who directly represent the Commissioners Court under the Courts budget, who are each paid over 100k a year? Why did the Commssioners not use the highly skilled County Attorney’s Office Civil Division attorneys who handle all county and employee related litigation?

At the end of September, prior to trial, the legal tab to the tax payer stood at $500,000.00. This does not include the cost of trial, more press releases from the private attorneys, and the plantiff’s attorney’s fees. The tax payer could ultimately be on the hook for over one million dollars based on the illegal actions of these commissioners.

Regardless of the statement “while the county commissioners disagree that they in any way violated any of the plaintiff’s rights”, reality is, they did.

 

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Statesman Reporting on Commissioner Cynthia Long Lawsuit Ruling

Commissioner Cynthia Long

The Statesman is now reporting on Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long and two other Commissioners violating a man’s constitutional rights. We emailed Long for a quote but have not received a response.

We also asked Long for a comment regarding her future political aspirations. Over the past few weeks, Long has been contacting business and political leaders around the county stating she is strongly considering a run for County Judge, asking for their support.

As of the end of September, the tax payers are $500,000.00 in the hole, defending the illegal actions of Long and the two other Commissioners. This does not include the additional costs of trial and other legal expenses which have mounted over the past month. The final tab could be well over one million dollars. We will report the final bill when it becomes available.

Below is the report from the Statesman.

Judge rules Wilco commissioners violated law in constable interview

A federal judge ruled this week that three Williamson County commissioners violated a man’s constitutional rights when he was asked illegal questions during interviews for a constable’s position.

Read full story from the Statesman here.

 

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Federal Court: Commissioner Cynthia Long Violated Rights of Applicant

Commissioner Cynthia Long

A United States Federal Judge has found that the Constitutional rights of Robert Lloyd were violated by Commissioner Cynthia Long and Lisa Birkman when he was asked questions about his religious affiliation, abortion and gay marriage during an interview.

In 2013, Lloyd applied to be appointed to the Constable Pct 3 position left vacant by the resignation of Bobby Gutierrez.

During the interview, Lloyd was asked illegal questions by Commissioners Cynthia Long and Lisa Birkman regarding his views on his religious affiliation, abortion and gay marriage. Lloyd and two other applicants later filed suit in Federal court. Commissioners reached a $100,000.00 settlement with two of the plaintiffs who joined Lloyd in the suit but Lloyd did not settle and continued the suit.

Lloyd later dropped his claim seeking monetary damages against the county but refused to drop the suit seeking an injunction and action against the Commissioners for their improper behavior. On Friday, the Federal Court found in his favor and not only issued the permanent injunction but also found those Commissioners violated his civil rights.

Prior to trial, the legal tab was over $500,000.00 and may end up costing tax payers over a million dollars in legal fees before all is said and done. We will have more on the final tab the tax payers owe based on the illegal actions of Commissioner Long and Birkman when that becomes available.

Below are excerpts from the suit:

The Court finds that Commissioner Long’s questioning deprived Lloyd of his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Accordingly, the Court finds that Commissioner Birkman’s questioning deprived Lloyd of his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, the Court finds that Lloyd’s Equal Protection Rights under the Fourteenth Amendment were violated when he was asked questions about his views on same-sex marriage, abortion, and religious affiliation during the course of an interview for an appointment to a Williamson County Constable’s position. The Court further finds that the appropriate remedy is the imposition of the following permanent injunction: Williamson County Officials and their agents are prevented from asking any questions, written or oral, of any applicant to an appointed Constable position, regarding their views on same-sex marriage, abortion, or religious affiliation.

 

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Sheriff James Wilson Offers Excuses on Transition

The Statesman picked up on a story reported earlier today about lame duck Sheriff James Wilson.

Wilson said that to avoid disruption among employees, he has not yet invited Chody to tour the sheriff’s office and meet staff members. During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Wilson said rumors have been spreading for months among employees about who Chody was going to fire.

If Chody had toured the sheriff’s office any earlier this year, Wilson said, then employees who met him would have been nervous about their jobs.

A very odd statement from Wilson who demanded access to the Sheriff’s Office in mid 2004 shortly after his Primary election victory. Wilson was not set to take office until January 2005 but insisted on being part of the budget process in mid 2004 and was later allowed to do so. Wilson also met with several of his future senior staff members mid 2004 regarding who he would and would not retain upon taking office, one issue that lead to a law suit filed by six employees he fired or demoted. That suit was later settled.

For Wilson to say he is worried about “rumors” and “disruptions” of his employees is disingenuous after his conduct in 2004. Wilson says he does “not have a war” with Chody`but openly opposed him, indirectly mocking Chody in campaign commericials during the 2016 Republican Primary election. Wilson endorsed one of his staff members, Lt. Mike Cowie to be his successor. Cowie came in third place in a five man race mustering only 13% of the votes.

Wilson said he is holding a news conference at 3:30 p.m. Thursday to respond to Chody’s comments. Wilson who expected transparency and access in 2004 should do the same for his successor, but instead has chosen to place his own self-interests ahead of those he serves; the public.

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Sheriff James Wilson: Epic Fail

It’s apparent December 31st can’t get her fast enough for many. Between Williamson County Sheriff James Wilson and District Attorney Jana Duty, there have been more Sasquatch sightings than those two showing up to work.

This is not only a travesty to the tax payers of Williamson County but it has also created issues with a smooth transition between incoming administrations. Wilson’s salary is close to 120k a year and Duty tops 150k.

This morning, incoming Sheriff-Elect Robert Chody apparently had enough of Wilson’s failures and took to facebook.

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Robert Chody and Shawn Dick are both consummate professionals who will competently lead and rebuild their respective offices, serving those who elected them to office well.

It’s reprehensible that Wilson, who has been reported to rarely show up to work for the past 10 months, has now made the transition difficult for Chody. This not only hurts Chody’s efforts to rebuild the badly suffering agency, but also the hard working employees who keep us safe and ultimately the tax payers.

With the departure of James Wilson, Jana Duty and Lisa Birkman, Williamson County has turned the corner in ridding itself of a few career establishment politicians. The lack of leadership from establishment politicians has cost Williamson County dearly. From law suits costing tax payers millions and millions of dollars, a county now 1.4 BILLION dollars in debt (that is over 2,000.00 for every man, woman and child) constant public embarrassments and an overall self-serving establishment mentality, tax payers have had enough.

2018 is right around the corner and there a few remaining establishment career politicians, who have contributed to these problems, already on the radar to join Wilson, Birkman and Duty in “early retirement”.

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Lisa’s Legacy: A Blue Precinct 1


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 *Updated 11/13/2016 7:54pm

The 2016 election left many stunned, not only nationally, but also here at home. Donald Trump devastated Hillary Clinton nationwide in places Republicans haven’t won in 30 years. But, in traditionally strong Republican Williamson County, Trump fared poorly. A glance at the countywide average shows Trump landing at 50.93%. In 2012, countywide, Romney captured 59.22% and, in what was believed to be the biggest shocker election year Williamson County had ever seen—the “Obama 2008” wave—McCain still managed to score 55.49%.

Even though much of Williamson County maintained its strong Republican advantage, in Precinct One every Republican contested by a Democrat scored sub 50%. The biggest shock locally of the 2016 night was the loss of a Republican County Commissioner’s seat in Precinct One. That left many, early in the night, wondering what could possibly have happened. How could a Democrat in Williamson County win a seat on the Commissioners Court? Simple; Republicans were out-voted in Precinct One and out-voted “big league”. A few establishment insiders pointed fingers, made ridiculous excuses and played the blame game in attempts to justify the loss. Others, however, saw the bigger picture of what had just happened. After breaking down the numbers, it’s simple to see how this happened.

There is some good news for Republicans in Pct 1, although alarming. We originally reported all Republican candidates lost in Pct 1, but that was incorrect. Of 12 Republicans on the ballot in Pct. 1 who were contested by a Democrat, ALL 12 came in under 50%, but seven of the eleven still pulled out very slim wins. Third party candidates in 10 of the 12 actually helped those Republican candidates to a win even (minus 1 race). Tony Dale was ultimately victorious in his race 55-45 with the help of several strong Republican boxes in Pct 2 but lost Pct one 48.65 – 51.34 . (See chart below) 

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How could this have happened when 2008 was supposed to be the worst Republican showing since the county flipped Republican two decades ago? Simple—Straight Ticket Voting. In 2016, Democrats dominated straight ticket voting in Pct 1. Back in 2008, Republicans maintained a 51.85% – 48.15% straight ticket advantage in Pct. 1 even though McCain came in at 48.78% to Obama’s 51.22% in Pct. 1.

In 2016, Democrats in Pct 1 took a 52.63% – 47.37% advantage in straight ticket voting and Trump came in at 39.98%; almost ten points lower than McCain in 2008. In Pct. 1, Democrat Straight Ticket voting increased from 8,001 votes in 2012 to 12,299 votes in 2016, a whopping 4,298-vote escalation. However, Republican straight ticket voting only increased from 10,368 votes in 2012 to 11,071 votes in 2016. An anemic 703 vote increase.

To put this into context, one race nearly lost in the 2008 race was the Pct. 1 Commissioner seat. Lisa Birkman managed to squeak out a win by only 321 votes in 2008, retaining the seat by a slim 50.56% – 49.44% margin over Democrat Mike Grimes. Adjusting the numbers to 2016 levels where straight ticket voting was only 47.37% Republican (vs. 2008 51.85%), Birkman would have lost straight ticket voting by 667 votes. Now, factoring in the top of the ticket drag from McCains 48.78% to Trump’s 39.98%, Birkman would have lost many more votes, ultimately resulting in a 45.87% loss.

In the opening paragraph, we said “in traditionally strong Republican Williamson County, Trump fared poorly”. But in fact, outside of Pct 1, he did not. Pct 1 was the only precinct where Trump lost. In fact, in precincts 2, 3 and 4, Trump not only won, but Republicans comfortably outpaced Democrats in straight ticket voting.  (See charts below)

In 2014, Judge Bill Gravell spoke at the Republican Party County Convention. In what many view as a prophetic statement about the future of the Republican Party in Williamson County, especially in Pct 1, Gravell said “Republicans in Williamson County, especially in Pct 1, must see the reality of what is happening and take action now or we will pay dearly later”.

Judge Gravell went a step further by challenging everyone in the room to go out and work to register new Republican voters in their precincts. In fact, Judge Gravell returned to Pct 3, and with the help of Sun City Republican leaders, they registered thousands of new Republican voters. Pct 1 did not heed his warning and are now suffering the consequences.

Given the numbers we saw on November 8, it’s apparent the Republican Party has a lot of work to do in Pct. 1. Traditionally strong Republican boxes inside of Pct. 1 turned blue this election so wishful thinking, pointing fingers, playing the blame game and hoping this election cycle was an anomaly isn’t going to cut it.

The Republican Party better face the hard reality of what happened Tuesday night and make the necessary changes that are badly needed to get the Republican train back on its tracks, especially in Pct. 1. If they do not, trending blue may soon be the “new normal” in Williamson County. But that’s not Lisa Birkman’s problem anymore. Birkman is in the process of moving to Pct 3 and has stated a future political run there is not out of the realm of possibility.

 

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Jana Duty: Let The Information Purge Begin

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First she lied about the existence of relative information in an investigation. Then she deleted information from her computer which was only discovered through a forensic exam of her hard drive. Then she called herself a “computer dumb dumb”. Then she lied under oath. No, we aren’t talking about Hillary Clinton.

Now it appears, just yesterday, embattled District Attorney Jana Duty scrubbed her political facebook page of all controversial posts relating to her removal suit. As one well respected local attorney said: “the cover-up is always worse than the crime”….

Perhaps the upcoming hearing on Sept. 7th has her rattled. Or perhaps her attorney’s have finally managed to place a muzzle on her. Either way, Duty’s purge doesn’t erase history.

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Duty’s Date With Destiny

Judge Deitz has set a hearing date for September 7th to hear from both the State and embattled District Attorney Jana Duty regarding the issuance of citation.

If a citation is issued, the district judge may temporarily suspend the Duty and may appoint another person to perform the duties of the office. County Attorney Dee Hobbs has requested Duty be suspended once citation is issued “to guard the public welfare and protect the interest of the people of Texas”. Duty, sounding more like someone appearing before a parole board seeking early release said she “does not pose a danger to public welfare.”

Duty, who rarely shows up to the office, now states she will be on “vacation” and not able to attend as most view as another stall tactic. It is unclear if the judge will move forward with the September 7th hearing based on Duty’s “vacation”. Most speculate Duty will not testify at the hearing based on a reported tandem criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers.

It is unclear how fast the judge will rule on issuance of citation after the September 7th hearing. Hobbs is asking for an expedited trial date if citation is issued.

 

 

 

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Jana Duty Attempts To Rewrite History In Latest Motion

Williamson County DA Jana Duty Mugshots

Williamson County DA Jana Duty Mugshots

Embattled District Attorney Jana Duty filed a motion to dismiss the removal suit filed against her by County Attorney Dee Hobbs. The motion, filed by Duty’s defense attorney’s, cites Duty did not withhold evidence during a Capital Murder trial and a gag order she was ruled to have violated was unconstitutional.

Duty was found guilty and incarcerated last August on five counts of violating a court order. Duty then waived her right to appeal and served a ten day sentence in the County Jail. But now Duty says she did not do anything wrong even though she was found guilty and waived her appeal. Oddly, Duty not only admitted to guilt once, but twice when she copped a plea deal with the State Bar of Texas in June again admitting to committing the offenses she now says never happened.

Duty was also found to have intentionally and willfully withheld evidence in a Capital Murder trial by a State Judge. The Third Court of Appeals just ruled on this also. But, Duty, who never tried a felony case in her life (prior to the one that landed her in jail) says everyone from a State District Judge to the Court of Criminal Appeals is wrong and she is right, even though she admitted to the wrongdoings.

Regarding withholding evidence, Duty said she did not tell the defense about key evidence in the case because “they acted so horribly to me during the first trial, that I just didn’t even want to speak to them”. She also said she failed to tell the defense about software because “after the way I was treated throughout the entire trial, I really didn’t feel very magnanimous”. 

In May, Duty negotiated and accepted a plea deal acknowledging she lied in a Capital Murder trial and violated a court order. The Evidentiary Panel and Duty agreed and concluded that the following Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct were violated: 4.01 (a), 3.04(d), 8.02(a), 8.04(a)(3).

  • Disciplinary Rule 4.01 (a) Truthfulness in Statements to Others
  • Disciplinary Rule 3.04 (d) Violating Court Order
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.04 (a)(3) Dishonesty, Deceit, Misrepresentation
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.02 (a). Judicial and Legal Officials (a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory official or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

Duty was given an 18 month probated suspension in exchange for her guilty plea.

Duty says the “gag order” she was found guilty of violating is “unconstitutional”. A State District Judge, The Third Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals disagree. Duty appealed the validity of the “gag order” to those courts in mid 2015.  All three of her appeals were shot down.

Duty is now trying to rewrite history. She was found guilty of, waived appeal, plead guilty to and served time in jail for the same issues she now shes she did not do. Bottom line, the chief law enforcement officer in Williamson County is a convicted criminal who plead guilty to “dishonesty, deceit, misrepresentation, violating a court order and truthfulness ins statements to others”.

Duty, sounding more like a person up for parole than an elected District Attorney, stated she “does not pose a danger to public welfare.” Duty plead guilty to Professional Misconduct in 2011 by the State Bar of Texas. In direct defiance to the State Bar of Texas, after the plea agreement was signed, Duty publicly stated she wears her reprimand“as a badge of honor” and if given the chance again she would “do it all over again”. Duty held true to her words and again violated the code of professional conduct and plead guilty to committing several counts of Professional Misconduct.

One long time attorney stated “We all know what would happen if a defendant in a Capital Murder trial lied under oath and tampered with evidence; Duty would have them indicted and charged. But yet she feels she is above the law and should not be held accountable. Even worse, she is now trying to rewrite history as if none of her illegal behavior ever happened. Great example for our top law enforcement official to set.”

To distort the issues even further, Duty says her actions, at worst, reflect an error in judgment in dealing with opposing counsel and responding to the court in that case.”  Then again, there’s an old saying with convicts serving time in prison; “we‘re all innocent in here”.

 

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Removal Suit Against Jana Duty Clarified

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Several media outlets are now reporting on the removal suit filed by County Attorney Dee Hobbs against District Attorney Jana Duty. We have received several emails asking for clarification to the latest legal filings.

A year ago today, Jana Duty was convicted and thrown in jail on four counts of violating a court order. She was found “intentionally and willfully” withholding evidence in a capital murder trial and also lying under oath. Duty also plead guilty to several violations ranging from withholding evidence to untruthfulness to others and was sanctioned by the State Bar of Texas for Professional Misconduct for the second time in 3 years.

June 2016, two citizens filed a suit against Jana Duty to have her removed from office based on incompetence and official misconduct.

A visiting Judge was then assigned to the case.

The visiting Judge ruled he could not issue citation until the State (County Attorney) joined the suit.

County Attorney Dee Hobbs interpreted the law that he could not join the suit until the Judge ruled to issue citation.

This led to a temporary stalemate. Hobbs filed for clarification on the law.

To end the deadlock, yesterday, Hobbs filed a separate removal suit in his personal capacity and also in his official capacity as County Attorney.

This is essentially a new suit, separate from the citizens filing. It is expected Judge Lambeth will again recuse herself and Judge Stubblefield will again appoint a visiting Judge; more than likely Judge Dietz. This should only take a few days to complete.

Judge Dietz will more than likely hold a brief hearing to determine if he will issue citation. If citation is issued, the suit moves forward.

Breaking down the new lawsuit filed by Hobbs, it is essentially the same grounds as the original petition filed by the citizens in June.

“This conduct is evidence of Defendant’s incompetency because it demonstrates her gross ignorance of her official duties and also her gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties. Further, it is evidence of Defendant’s official misconduct because it demonstrates her intentional, unlawful behavior relating to official duties by an officer entrusted with the administration of justice or the execution of law and/or the intentional failure, refusal or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the officer by law.”

Hobbs is also asking for the immediate suspension of Duty pending removal.

Sources at the Courthouse have said Duty is again not showing up to the DA’s office. Duty’s annual salary is $152,000.00.

Sources at the courthouse have said things are at a standstill because the DA’s office is in disarray. Cases are not moving according to sources and this has had a dramatic and costly ripple effect to taxpayers. Duty recently said the large increase in the jail population was due to the county’s growing population. Duty also blamed District Judges for the back log of cases. According to many insiders, Duty is 100% to blame and has directly led to this serious issue. According to the Statesman:

“Mike Gleason, assistant chief deputy of the Williamson County sheriff’s office, told county commissioners last week that a state of flux at the district attorney’s office is causing fewer accused felons to agree on plea deals, leading to a more crowded jail.”

Duty’s attorney’s said they will review the suit filed by Hobb’s and respond accordingly. Duty refused to comment yesterday. Duty is well known for her out of control, profanity filled texts, facebook posts and emails. However, it appears her defense lawyers have tightened the leash and are now keeping her muzzled.

We will have more as the story develops.

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County Attorney Dee Hobbs Files Suit To Remove Jana Duty Also Asks For Immediate Suspension

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County Attorney Dee Hobbs has filed a removal petition in his personal capacity and also professional capacity as County Attorney to remove convicted criminal DA Jana Duty from office.

Hobbs cited in his removal suit where Duty willfully and intentionally withheld evidence, violated a court order, was convicted and thrown in jail and also again sanctioned by the State Bar of Texas for Professional Misconduct.

“This conduct is evidence of Defendant’s incompetency because it demonstrates her gross ignorance of her official duties and also her gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties. Further, it is evidence of Defendant’s official misconduct because it demonstrates her intentional, unlawful behavior relating to official duties by an officer entrusted with the administration of justice or the execution of law and/or the intentional failure, refusal or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the officer by law.”

Hobbs states “Defendant was incompetent and engaged in official misconduct” in the suit.

Hobbs has also asked for her immediate suspension.

“Pursuant to Section 87.017, Texas Local Government Code, the STATE respectfully requests the temporary suspension of JANA DUTY A/K/A JANA L. HUNSICKER, Defendant, from the public office of District Attorney for Williamson County, Texas. The STATE further request that the Court appoint another qualified and competent person to perform the duties of that office during the pendency of this case.”

Sources say Duty is not showing up to the DA’s Office again and absent from her post for the past month.

Click Here To Read Petition For Removal

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County Attorney Hobbs To File Removal Suit

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County Attorney Dee Hobbs said today he will be filing his own removal suit to oust convicted criminal, District Attorney Jana Duty, to end the stalemate currently in place.

Hobbs said he hopes to have citation issued quickly so he can move forward with removing Duty from office as soon as possible.

Hobbs did not comment on when he will file his removal petition but speculation is it will be filed possibly tomorrow.

Cases are not moving according to insiders at the court house which has had a dramatic and costly ripple effect to taxpayers. Duty recently said the large increase in the jail population was due to the county’s growing population. Duty also blamed District Judges for the back log of cases. According to many insiders, Duty is 100% to blame and has directly led to this serious issue.

Duty is still not showing up to the DA’s Office on a regular basis according to several sources.

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Blessed Are The Peacemakers Sign Goes Viral

13876405_1043998588969545_1450133545131556132_n Business Leader Jim Schwertner, Hutto Community Leader Tim Jordan, Pct 1 Commissioner Candidate Landy Warren, Judge Bill Gravell, Williamson County Sheriff Elect Robert Chody, Dale Ross, Georgetown Mayor, Constable Elect Vinnie Cherrone, Round Rock Police Commander Robert Rosenbusch, Hutto Police Chief Earl Morrison and Constable Kevin Stofle.

A resident from Hutto came up with an idea and sign design that has taken Central Texas by storm. The sign campaign was featured in the Advocate Newspaper:

Georgetown and much of Williamson County will soon be awash in blue and visible support for law enforcement. A public project initiated by a Hutto resident provided the first 1000 yard signs at no cost to county residents who wish to thank law enforcement officers for their service and sacrifice. The campaign was planned previously, but after Monday’s death of Sheriff Deputy Craig Hutchinson, it comes in time to recognize the threat to police officers nationwide, sadly, as close as Round Rock.

At a press conference on the Old Courthouse steps Tuesday, Judge Bill Gravell announced signs are available to the public at a number of sites around the county. Over 100 signs were handed out at the press conference, which wasn’t announced to the public—but many arrived eager to take them for their homes and businesses.

Sign production is being made possible by donations and support by some of the County’s most prominent leaders, including businessman Jim Schwertner, Hutto community leader Tim Jordan, Precinct One Commissioner candidate Landy Warren, Sheriff-elect Robert Chody, Judge Bill Gravell, and Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross. The signs themselves, and several hundred matching stickers were printed and rushed out for distribution,

The organizer, who wished to remain anonymous said, “I may have come up with the idea and design, but the real credit goes to those, who, without hesitation, accepted the challenge and immediately provided the funding necessary to make this a reality. This isn’t about me, nor do I want any recognition. This is about men and women in law enforcement. Those on the front lines who risk their lives every time they put on that uniform. This is about those who keep us safe and protect us from the evil that wishes to do us harm. These signs are the least we can do to acknowledge our gratitude and support. These brave men and women need to know they are appreciated when they drive past by the homes and businesses they unselfishly protect.”

Prior to the press conference, several individuals posted a preview on Facebook and received hundreds of requests for signs. Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross has already raised money for another 1000 signs, which will be available Wednesday in Georgetown.

Sheriff-elect Robert Chody says this campaign proves his point from a year ago that this community supports law enforcement; “The challenge was letting law enforcement see that. The leaders see it in their daily interactions with the public, but now the beat officer will get out and will see it in the signs or with the stickers in the windows. People are tired of seeing their law enforcement being attacked…I’m proud of Williamson County residents and I’m proud of our friend in Hutto who came up with this idea.”

Judge Gravell, speaking to a visiting State Trooper, said, “We want law enforcement to know when they put on that uniform, that we, as a community, have their back and to viciously take the lives of peace officers is absolutely unacceptable. If you make the choice to do that, there will be consequences.”

Mayor Dale Ross added, “‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ is true in Georgetown because we absolutely love our first responders. They always put our citizens first and they deliver that service and safety at the highest levels. They need our support in a very vocal way.”

***Signs will be available at no cost (one per person) while supplies last. For updates on supply and future shipments, visit the sponsor pages on Facebook; Tim4Hutto, Landy4Commissioner, JudgeBillGravell, MayorDaleRoss, and AdvocateNewspaper.

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Jana Duty’s Campaign Finance Conundrum

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Last week, embattled DA Jana Duty says her plan is to move to Central America and “when we are not laying on the beach fighting the monkeys away from our drinks, we plan to hike through the rainforest”.

It appears Duty will have to answer to yet another complaint to the Texas Ethics Commission before she joins the monkeys on the beach in December. The July 15th campaign finance report was filed today and Duty’s report appears to show several irregularities and omissions.

During her failed re-election bid, Duty purchased at least $6,400.00 in ads from The Advocate publication. Below is a breakdown of the purchases.

Dec 4, 2015 Full Page Ad – $1,400.00

Dec 16, 2015 Full Page Ad – $1,400.00

Dec 30, 2015 Full Page Ad – $1,400.00

Feb 1, 2016 Political Ad Package – $ 2,200.00

$4,200.00 should have been reported on Jan 15 report for the three December ad expenditures, however Duty only reported she only spent $2,600.00.

Duty spent another $2,200.00 in advertising in February with The Advocate that should have been reported on the 8 day report due February 22, 2016. This expense is also not reported on any reports.

Duty failed to report $3,800.00 in expenditures to the Advocate.

It is unclear if Duty failed to pay The Advocate for the expenditure or just intentionally omitted reporting the expense on her campaign finance report on three separate reports. Either way, she is once again in violation and will have to answer to the Texas Ethics Commission.

Duty’s court date is this Tuesday, July 19th at 9:30am at the Williamson County Courthouse regarding her removal suit. A separate criminal complaint against Duty is also in the hands of the Texas Rangers.

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Duty’s Delusion: More From The Wilco Sun

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Jana Duty went on record today with the Wilco Sun, not about the murder of five police officers in Dallas, but about her leaving the United States. Duty says she is moving to either Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama or Nicaragua.

Duty says her plan is “when we are not laying on the beach fighting the monkeys away from our drinks, we plan to hike through the rainforest”.

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One person in the Court House today said, “It’s really disturbing the District Attorney is talking about herself and not the murders of five Police Officers. Then again, it’s typical Jana Duty, everything is always about her. Everyone up here has their fingers crossed he (Judge Dietz) suspends her on July 19th because December 31st can’t get here fast enough for us”. 

Judge Dietz will decide on July 19th at 9:30am if he will issue citation on her pending removal case. If so, he is also authorized by law to suspend Duty without pay. It is unknown if he will make that ruling on the 19th or at another hearing. It is also unknown if there are ramifications to Duty’s passport in lieu of a pending criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers that involves felony allegations.

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Duty’s Delusion: Dia Dos

While 5 Dallas Police Officers were being assassinated last night, Jana Duty took to her campaign facebook page to post about her future move to  South America. Duty, the top Law Enforcement officer of the county has yet to comment about the shooting, only posting how grateful she is to be leaving the United States.

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Jana Duty’s Misandry: The Next Episode

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Embattled lame duck District Attorney Jana Duty embarked upon another late night facebook rant posting a misandrist attack against several Williamson County residents and business leaders once again hailing her “good ole boy” battle cry.

“I guarantee the good ole boys of Wilco like Schwetner [sic], Higginbotham, Davis, Robinson, Russell, Gattis, Maxwell and their buddies came up with this idea!!!!! Women need to “know their place”. Welcome to Wilco.”

It didn’t take long for several to comment on her page (see below) with dissenting views pointing out her own self inflicted problems. Duty has since deleted those comments.

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As stated in a previous post, Duty attempts to paint Mr. Schwertner as a “misogynist” and not only a “good ole boy”, but a “founding father” of the “good ole network”. Those who know Mr. Schwertner say just the opposite of him and the following article illustrates facts, not delusional, baseless rants and personal attacks from a disgruntled lame duck elected official who has been discredited while under oath.

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It seems Duty’s defense lawyers will once again have to tighten the leash and reapply the muzzle to keep Duty under control.

 

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Duty’s Date with Destiny Set For July 19th

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Sources have indicated a hearing has been set for July 19th at 9:30am at the Williamson County Courthouse for embattled DA Jana Duty regarding her removal suit.

Duty’s lawyers filed a motion on June 17th to have the suit dismissed after previously stating they wanted to go to trial. “We are so excited that we live in a country that has a right to trial by jury so we have a fair and equitable system to resolve disputes like this, and we look forward to it,” Dan Richards said.

The motion filed by Duty’s lawyers asks for the lawsuit to be abated until “the State is represented by a statutorily authorized representative” and for Duty to be given a hearing in court so she can show the reason why a citation should not be issued against her.

“D.A. Jana Duty respectfully requests the opportunity to be heard so that she can show the Court that this lawsuit is merely an attempt by political enemies to exact punishment, not an attempt to protect the constituents who elected her to office”.

It is unclear at this time what the hearing will entail. Duty is subject to being called to testify at the hearing. The question remains, if Duty is called, will she take the fifth due to a possible ongoing criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers.

 

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Duty’s Chauvinism Shines

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Embattled District Attorney Jana Duty has once again taken to her facebook page to launch personal attacks. Duty has a long history of writing profanity laced texts, emails and facebook posts. Duty starts her latest rant with a quote pulling the “gender card”.

The quote implies she must take “unusual efforts” to succeed because she is a woman. In 2011, Duty attacked her opponent for having a “win at all cost” mindset, the same mentality this quote espouses and school of thought Duty apparently subscribes to.

Duty has said she will do “whatever it takes” and has apparently held true to her word. Duty has been found intentionally and willfully withholding evidence in a capital murder trial, lying under oath, violating court orders, has plead guilty to Professional Misconduct twice and arrested. Regardless of her criminal conduct, Duty still maintains she has “changed this county  for the better”.

In her post, Duty attacks several members of the community, claiming they are the “founding fathers” of the “good ole network”. Oddly, one of those mentioned has only been an elected official in Williamson County for a little over two years and was a former supporter of Duty. Another on her “hit list” hasn’t asked for her resignation or stated anything publicly about Duty.

Duty came to town in 2003 on the theme of “fighting the good ole boys”. In 2003, Duty petitioned a Williamson County court to change her married name of Hunsicker to Duty. She then mounted a campaign for county attorney and began her patented “good ole boy” mantra against her opponent. She then painted every member of the 2004 Commissioners Court as “good ole boys”. No current Commissioner was on the Court at that time.

After every member of the 2004 court did not seek re-election, an entirely new court was elected in 2006. Duty picked up the “good ole boy” mantle, labeling the new court “good ole boys” when her self inflicted problems began in 2007.

In her post, Duty fails to mention that one elected official who has called for her resignation is a woman. She also fails to mention another “female” Gissela SantaCruz, editorial writer for the Statesman, has also called for her resignation.

Duty says she feels “honored” to have this group against her, reminiscent of her attack against the Wilco Sun in late February. When the Wilco Sun endorsed her opponent, Duty took to facebook saying “I am SO thankful that the Wilco Sun endorsed my opponent!! In six (6) contested campaigns, the Wilco Sun has endorsed me ZERO (0) times. It’s my good luck charm. Thank you again Wilco Sun!!”.

In a 2016 campaign mailer, Duty compared her political plights to Jesus Christ. Duty stated: “I have stepped on many toes and made many political enemies. I am reminded Jesus made a lot of enemies by turning over the tables in the temple courts”.

Duty did not seem to have an issue with Jim Schwertner in 2012 when she accepted a five thousand dollar campaign contribution from him but yet she now attempts to paint him as a “misogynist” and not only a “good ole boy”, but a “founding father” of the “good ole network”. Those who know Mr. Schwertner say just the opposite of him and the following article illustrates facts, not baseless attacks from a scorned, disgruntled former elected official.

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Duty seems to have a complete disconnect with reality claiming only a handful of “good ole boys” want her out of office. Oddly, the other 14 “woman” elected officials in Williamson County have never claimed they are “victims” of this “good ole boy” network. Duty also forgets a record number of Republican Primary voters cast their vote on March 1, leaving one to ask, are 30,846 residents of Williamson County who voted against her also “good ole boys” and “ganging up” on her?

As one person at the courthouse stated, “You do not have a problem with Jana, until you have a problem with Jana, and then you are automatically labeled a “good ole boy” regardless of your gender”.

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Letter To Editor In Support Of Duty

 

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Another Veteran Prosecutor Resigns From DA’s Office

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Duty and her team of Assistant District Attorney’s on January 1, 2013 . Only two pictured remain.

 

Long time prosecutor Lytza Rojas has resigned from the Williamson County DA’s office. Rojas was regarded as one of the best prosecutors in the office and well liked by her coworkers and defense attorney’s.

One attorney said “She will be missed. What a complete shame she is leaving, she was great.” Another said “The DA’s Office is in complete disarray and here we go again, another veteran prosecutor jumps ship. Then again, no one can blame her for leaving given the mockery Jana Duty is making of the office.”

Since January 1, 2014, NINE prosecutors have left the DA’s Office.

Sources say the office is in complete turmoil and morale is rock bottom. “One of the biggest problems is the lack of leadership in the office.” said one source.” Brent Webster (Duty’s First Assistant) held an “emergency staff meeting” on Thursday before “Sunset Friday” to discuss the removal petition against Duty being filed. Apparently Webster collected all cell phones from the staff prior to the meeting so no one could record him.

One source said “No one respects Webster. Things have seemingly only gotten worse since he became First Assistant. His lack of experience only exacerbates the problems that Duty has created.”

One person at the Courthouse said “There are good employees at the DA’s office who want to do their work but they suffer because of a few who are destroying the office.” The common theme is “January 1, 2017 can’t get here fast enough”.

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Dan vs. Dee: Round 1

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The Statesman is reporting Jana Duty’s attorney Dan Richards just released a statement regarding County Attorney Dee Hobbs earlier statement regarding joining the removal suit.

One of Duty’s lawyers, Dan Richards, said in a statement Wednesday that he disagreed with the county attorney’s interpretation of the law that is contained in a local government code statute. The statute says “action may not be taken on the petition until the order is granted,” Richards said in the statement. It means the court can’t take any action on the lawsuit unless an order to issue a citation has been granted, Richards said.

“Nothing in that statute prohibits the county attorney from making a decision as to whether or not to prosecute the case before the court make a decision on citation,” said Richards. He said the county attorney joined the lawsuit to remove Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg following her DWI arrest before the court issued a citation.

 

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Duty Drama Drags On

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The Austin American Statesman and Wilco Sun are reporting:

The Williamson County Attorney cannot yet legally join a lawsuit to remove District Attorney Jana Duty from office, according to a statement released Wednesday by the county attorney’s office.

State law says County Attorney Dee Hobbs can’t take any action in the suit until a judge issues a citation for Duty to appear in court, said the statement.

Duty will not be officially served with the lawsuit until the citation is issued.

In response, Duty’s lawyers filed a motion last week asking that the lawsuit be abated because it couldn’t be prosecuted without the county attorney joining it.

Last week Duty’s defense lawyer said “We are so excited that we live in a country that has a right to trial by jury so we have a fair and equitable system to resolve disputes like this, and we look forward to it.” Now it seems her defense team is not so excited and are instead trying to have the suit thrown out before it even begins.

Duty went on a text rant last week stating:  “Mr. Schwertner thinks he owns the Texas Rangers just like he owns some of the politicians and journalists in Wilco. They can investigate me all they want. I expected they would keep piling on. Just more of the some [sic] nonsense. What else is new?”

Duty is well known for her out of control, profanity filled texts and emails. However, it appears her defense lawyers have tightened the leash and are now keeping her muzzled since last weeks episode.

Judge John Dietz was assigned to hear the case last week and has still yet to issue citation.

 

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Defense Files Motion To Throw Out Duty’s Removal Suit

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Jana Duty

A legal motion was filed by Duty’s defense lawyers on Friday to dismiss the case on a “technicality”. The motion, in so many words, states the removal suit cannot move forward unless the County Attorney joins the suit. The motion also states Duty’s past conduct is not grounds for removal.

“Furthermore, the Petition does not allege facts sufficient to constitute grounds for removal. As an elected District Attorney, D.A. Jana Duty is charged with the exercise of discretion with regard to her prosecutorial duties, which necessarily includes decisions with which some individuals, such as Plaintiffs, will disagree. However the allegations of the Petition do not constitute grounds for removal for Official Misconduct under Chapter 87 because even if D.A. Jana Duty’s actions are ones with which some constituents might disagree, they are within the ambit of her discretionary duties as a District Attorney. The object of the statute is not to punish the officer past conduct, but to protect the public by removing from office those who have been faithless and corrupt. Meyer v. Tunks, 360 S.W.2d 518, 520 (Tex. 1962).”

A quick look at the case cited (Meyer v Tunks) deals more with discovery and double jeopardy. Although it does cite:

“It reasonably appears from the constitutional and statutory provisions authorizing this proceeding that the object is not to punish the officer for his derelictions or for the violation of a criminal statute but to protect the public in removing from office by speedy and adequate means those who have been faithless and corrupt and have violated their trust. Aside from any implications that might be drawn from this statement the court is saying only that to justify removal from office the allegations of the petition shall be specific and certain and the official misconduct must be willful or in other words with evil intent or without reasonable grounds to believe the act lawful.”

Withholding evidence is certainly not part of the DA’s “discretionary duties”. The ruling against Duty from last September states: “The Court finds that Ms. Duty’s conduct in this case; in which she withheld evidence, repeatedly violated court orders….has been intentional and willful”.

Lying under oath is also not a “discretionary duty”. While the object of the statute is not to punish Duty for her past conduct but protect the public by those who have been faithless and corrupt, we ask, is withholding evidence “corrupt” behavior? A judge thought so when he placed Ken Anderson in jail a few years back and the State Bar of Texas disbarred him.

Is lying under oath or in an investigation violating the public’s trust? Duty apparently thought so when she penned a memo impeaching a Georgetown Police Officer from testifying that led the officers termination.

“Either Hoskins-Brown was intentionally deceitful with the investigators, or she lacks the mental acumen to relate basic facts when questioned by fellow officers,” the attorneys’ letter said. Any future involvement she has in a criminal investigation would threaten to undermine the State’s ability to achieve a just resolution.”

No doubt Duty will start banging the drum that this is a waste taxpayer’s money. Did she care about that when she filed a removal suit against the county judge a few years back? A suit she knew (or should have known) was doomed for failure before it was even filed based on prior case law? And based on that case law, the suit was dismissed.

Did that stop Duty when she used her office resources (now First Assistant Brent Webster) to file failed mandamus after failed mandamus against the Third Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals related to her criminal behavior she was jailed for?

Did that stop Duty when countless tax dollars were spent in another personal battle with the Commissioners Court after the Court moved a lawyer from her office to represent the Commissioners? The Court stated they had lost faith and trust in Duty’s abilities for competent representation? Another suit Duty lost?

Every personal “legal war” Duty has waged, she has lost, costing the tax payers dearly.

Duty was found to have withheld evidence in a capital murder case. The case ended in a mistrial. Who suffers because of Duty’s actions; the public, the victim’s family and the justice system. Who else suffers? Every person related to every case filed that is still pending in her office and the tax payers of this county, the very people who need protection against an official whose actions have shown to be “corrupt”.

Duty has made a career of playing “victim” while painting anyone and everyone she has ever waged her personal battles with as a “good ole boy”. Now she paints a man, who was a victim of violent crime, as a “good ole boy” and her “political enemy”. Just a few months ago, the root of her angst was a man who ran against her for office. A man she painted as evil, during her campaign, because of his profession. Prior to that, it was the defense team who shed light on her criminal conduct. Before that, every elected official who she did not agree with.

The statute is but to protect the public by removing from office those who have been faithless, corrupt and has violated the public’s trust; that we agree, the very definition of why Duty should be immediately removed.

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Duty Attacks Crime Victim, Elected Officials And Taunts Texas Rangers

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Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty decided to comment late today regarding a complaint filed with the Texas Rangers. Duty, who has hidden behind a gag order for the past several months, falsely stating she is not allowed to speak publicly (the gag order only applies to the Harmel Murder case) broke her silence today, through text.

After the Austin American Statesman published a story late this afternoon about the criminal complaint filed with the Texas Rangers, Duty texted the following to reporter Clair Osborne with the Statesman:

“Mr. Schwertner thinks he owns the Texas Rangers just like he owns some of the politicians and journalists in Wilco,” Duty said Thursday in a text message. “They can investigate me all they want. I expected they would keep piling on. Just more of the some [sic] nonsense. What else is new?”

Duty has now possibly violated the terms of her probation with the State Bar of Texas by attacking Mr. Schwertner and others. The State Bar states it is a violation of 8.04 (5) to state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official. Rule 8.02. Judicial and Legal Officials (a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory official or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

Mr. Schwertner is also a crime victim.

One local resident said “She just managed to attack a victim of crime, the Texas Rangers, elected officials and the media in one short text. She really needs an intervention.” 

Duty just plead guilty to violating 8.02 (a) of the State Bar of Texas rules of Professional Conduct, one of four rules she admitted to violating that landed her an 18 month license suspension (probated). Given Rule 8.03. Reporting Professional Misconduct applies to all attorneys, one could expect yet another complaint to the State Bar of Texas against Duty to be coming soon for the latest violation.

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BREAKING NEWS: Texas Rangers Investigating District Attorney Jana Duty?

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According to a report by AnnMarie Ludlow, a criminal complaint has been made with the Texas Rangers against Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty.

by Ann Marie Ludlow

A separate criminal complaint has been filed against embattled Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty. According to businessman Jim Schwertner, the criminal complaint was made with the Texas Rangers on June 14.

“I have also referred the evidence to the Texas Rangers for review and possible criminal investigation,” Schwertner says.

The criminal complaint stems from facts evident in a civil suit filed June 13 and affirmed by Duty’s own admission of guilt to the State Bar of Texas, which recently probated an 18-month suspension of her law license. Texas Law requires Duty to personally pay all legal fees for her defense in both complaints.

Criminal Charges

In August 2015, she was found guilty on four charges of Criminal Contempt, waived her right to appeal and served a ten-day sentence in the Williamson County jail.

New criminal charges could stem from the September 2015 Findings of Fact (#95-98) in State of Texas v. Harmel, which explain how her actions were illegal and resulted in the mistrial:  Tex. Penal Code §39.02 Abuse of Capacity, Tex. Penal Code §39.03 Official Oppression, Tex. Penal Code §37.02 Aggravated Perjury, and Tex. Penal Code §37.09 Tampering with Physical Evidence. The first two are Class A misdemeanors carrying a $4000 fine and/or one year in jail. Tampering with Physical Evidence and Aggravated Perjury are third-degree felonies punishable by two to ten years in jail and may incur a maximum fine of $10,000.

Civil Petition

A civil suit was filed June 13 by attorney Brian Bishop to remove Duty legally from office before her term ends December 31. The Lawsuit is based on multiple judgments and orders from Williamson County District Courts and the State Bar of Texas, which found that Duty withheld evidence in a capital murder trial, has acted dishonestly, been untruthful to Williamson County judges and defense counsel and violated court orders. The civil findings include a criminal contempt conviction for violating a District Court order.

The civil case is assigned to the 425th District Court and will heard by retired Travis County Judge John Dietz.

Prior to both filings, Schwertner held a press conference and called for Duty to voluntarily step down “before sundown, Friday [June 10].”  His statements, as a taxpayer and a crime victim, referenced her previous censure by the State Bar of Texas, conviction for criminal contempt and subsequent jail sentence.

Schwertner responded, to press inquiries, that her absence from work, while being paid an annual salary of $152,000 by taxpayer dollars, is also an illegal action. The civil complaint cites her “dereliction and abandonment of her responsibilities as District Attorney.” The suit states, “On information and belief, Duty rarely comes into her office, performs any work, or contributes any expertise, services, or time to the office.”

Justice of the Peace Pct 3, Bill Gravell, at the press conference with Jim Schwertner June 8 talked about the challenges posed to his own office; “In the past year, I have found it increasingly difficult to communicate with Ms. Duty or her staff regarding criminal cases because she has been largely absent from her post.” Duty’s sister, Joette Schoolcraft also substantiated the assertion in a television interview, saying that her sister has been working remotely.

According to an article in the Sun, Duty declined to resign in an email saying she has “no plans to buckle to the will of my political enemies and resign early. They are simply wasting everyone’s time.”

Duty has retained Dan Richards, the same attorney who defended Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg in her removal suit after she was arrested on April 15, 2015 for Driving While Intoxicated.

Richards released the following statement: “District Attorney Jana Duty is proud to live in a country where all people are entitled to a jury of their peers to resolve claims. The District Attorney looks forward to that opportunity and will try her case to a jury instead of holding a press conference and attempting to try the case in the media. We feel confident in the American jury system will afford the District Attorney a fair trial and find in her favor.”

The Advocate reached out to Ms. Duty for comment, but as of press time has not received a response.

On Monday, Duty’s attorney Dan Richards stated, “This is the third female district attorney that people have tried to remove in the state of Texas, and we are still trying to find a case where they are trying to remove a male DA.”

We cited one removal suit against Chuck Rosenthal from Harris County for Mr. Richards. Here is another one. In 1994, Jack Stern was removed from office as DA when he (1) he publicly released transcripts of grand jury testimony, and (2) he abused a grand jury witness.

 

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Duty’s Defense Plays “Gender Card”

Wilco DA Jana Duty Dallas Co DA Susan Hawk and Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg

Wilco DA Jana Duty         Dallas Co. DA Susan Hawk           Travis Co. DA Rosemary Lehmberg

Statements linking embattled District Attorneys Jana Duty, Rosemary Lehmberg and Susan Hawk have been made by Duty’s defense attorney Dan Richards. Richards stated “This is the third female district attorney that people have tried to remove in the state of Texas, and we are still trying to find a case where they are trying to remove a male DA,” Richards said.

We located “a case” for Mr. Richards where a “male” DA was petitioned for removal, Chuck Rosenthal, former DA of Harris County. Rosenthal eventually resigned prior to the removal hearing just 8 years ago.

So what do Jana Duty, Rosemary Lehmberg and Susan Hawk have in common? Everything and nothing. All three are women. All three are embattled District Attorney’s whose self inflicted actions have caused much embarrassment to their office. And all three had removal suits brought against them. That is where the comparison stops.

Lehmberg plead guilty to DWI, served time in jail, sought treatment for alcohol addiction and returned to work. Hawk did a two-month stint for treatment of depression at a Houston mental health facility, and returned to work. Duty, however, has violated laws in conjunction with her official duties, in her official capacity.

Lehmberg and Hawk were charged under the “drunkenness and mental impairment” section of the removal statue. The removal suit filed Monday indicates Duty’s cause of removal is for “official misconduct” (acts directly associated with her official capacity).

Lehmberg was arrested for DWI, had a .239 blood alcohol content, nearly three times the legal limit. Lehmberg spat upon officers, made threats to jail staff and made a complete embarrassment of herself. Did this rise to the level of removal? Not according to a judge. Did it rise to the level of dishonoring her position as District Attorney? Absolutely.

The same applies to Hawk. She was diagnosed with depression and sought treatment. Hawk was absent from her office for two months seeking treatment. Hawk’s defense argued that the DA’s depression diagnosis and treatment does not make her unable to do her job. Judge Peeples questioned whether the removal case was about punishing Hawk for her past misdeeds or about ensuring her mental fitness now. He ultimately ruled it was about the latter.

The same judge previously presided over the unsuccessful suit to remove Travis County’s DA, who was arrested for drunk driving in 2013.

Between the two cases, “you’re left to get a sense that this judge is, at the very least, skeptical that mental health or addiction issues alone are a ground that truly justifies removing an official from office, said Potter County attorney Scott Brumley, who has handled ouster suits.

Comparing the removal suits of Lehmberg and Hawk to Duty’s is “like comparing a Pinto to a Mercedes” said one long time civil attorney who wished to remain anonymous. The suit against Duty lists several documented violations Duty has already been found guilty of, been found to have committed by a court, and plead guilty to in her latest sanction by the State Bar of Texas. These issues are directly tied to criminal and other acts she committed in the discharge of her official capacity.

No doubt Richards will have his hands full spinning up a solid defense for Duty if Judge Dietz issues citation. Attempting to muddy the waters by playing the “gender card” is a start.

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Visiting Judge Assigned To Duty’s Removal Case

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Visiting District Judge John Dietz was assigned to the removal case of Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty. Ditez is very well known to be a “no nonsense” Judge.

Judge Dietz will now review the petition and determine if a citation will be issued. If citation is issued the case moves forward and a hearing will be set 5 days from issuance for Duty to answer to the charges. A ruling on the issuance of citation could come as early as next week.

Dietz also has the authority to immediately suspend Duty without pay.

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DA Duty’s New Defense Team

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Williamson County DA Jana Duty has hired yet another defense attorney to defend her latest legal issue. This time she has hired Dan Richards, a defense attorney from Travis County. Richards represented Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg in her removal suit.

Richards released this statement Monday on behalf of Duty:

“District Attorney Jana Duty is proud to live in a country where all people are entitled to a jury of their peers to resolve claims. The District Attorney looks forward to that opportunity and will try her case to a jury instead of holding a press conference and attempting to try the case in the media. We feel confident in the American jury system will afford the District Attorney a fair trial and find in her favor.”

This statement is a stark change in tone from Duty’s demonization of defense attorney’s during her failed campaign for re-election.

Many folks have asked “what’s next”. Below is from a paper written by Scott Brumley, Potter County Attorney, and expert in this area explaining in detail the procedures.

1. Representation of State, Filing and Service

If grounds for removal exist, a chapter 87 proceeding is commenced by filing a written petition for removal in the district court of the county in which the officer resides, unless the officer is a district attorney. Where the defendant is a district attorney, the suit may be filed in the county in which the district attorney resides or the county where the alleged ground for removal occurred if that county is within the prosecutor’s district. The petition may be filed by any person who has resided in the county for at least six months and who is not presently under indictment. At least one of the persons filing the petition must swear to it.

The petition must set forth the grounds for removal in plain and intelligible language, including specification of the time and place of each act alleged as a ground for removal with as much certainty as the nature of the case permits. Based on a requirement of the Government Code, the petition probably will include a request that the judge of the court in which the suit is filed seek assignment of an out-of-county judge to dispose of the case.

While a removal suit may initially be filed by a private party, maintaining the suit requires the participation of either the district or county attorney for the county in which the action is pending. As a general matter, the county attorney is the first-line representative of the state.

After the petition is filed, an application must be filed seeking an order requiring issuance and service of citation. The trial court judge has discretion to refuse to order citation, in which case the suit is dismissed with costs charged to the party who filed the suit. No appeal may be taken from that decision. On the other hand, if the judge grants the order, the clerk must issue citation along with a certified copy of the petition. In that instance, the judge must require the person filing the petition to post security for costs as in other civil cases. Note, however, that if the person filing the petition is the county or district attorney, security for costs should not be required since the attorney brings the action in his or her capacity as the attorney for the state, which is exempt from any requirement of a cost bond. The order must include a deadline for the defendant to file an answer, which date must be at least five days after citation is served.

2. Suspension

The real hardship of a removal suit for the defendant can begin almost as soon as the order for issuance and service of citation is entered. Any time after the order for citation is issued, the judge may suspend the officer and appoint another person to perform the duties of office. Suspension cannot take effect until the person appointed to serve during the suspension executes a bond with at least two sureties. Conditions and the amount of the bond are determined by the judge. If the suspended officer wins at trial, the county must pay the officer from its general fund an amount equal to the compensation received by the temporary appointee. While this may seem benevolent to the defendant officer, it actually suggests fairly convincingly that a chapter 87 suspension is without pay. In something of a double whammy, a chapter 87 suspension remains in effect during appeal of a removal judgment, regardless of whether the officer files a bond to delay execution of the judgment .

3. Trial and Judgment

Removal suits are to be conducted, to the extent possible, in accordance with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and practice applicable to civil cases in general. Thus, a removal defendant can anticipate being served with discovery which has potential to reveal unflattering information to the State’s lawyers and, potentially, to the whole world if the information is placed into the public domain of the court’s records or introduced at trial. Although the potential embarrassment associated with disclosure of unflattering facts may be outweighed by the traumatic prospect of losing one’s job, it is important to remember that the officer’s reputation hangs in the balance in a removal scenario. Consequently, whether to compound that damage through release of unpleasant information in the course of the proceedings is a significant factor to consider in deciding whether and how to defend the lawsuit.

If removal is to be the final result of the action, it must be reached through a jury trial. Often, the State will demand a jury in its petition as provided by the constitution and chapter 87. Nonetheless, if the officer wants to avail himself or herself of that right, caution dictates consideration of the general rule that failure to make a timely jury demand results in waiver of the right to a jury. Moreover, since the right to trial by jury in a removal suit is not a jurisdictional issue, the failure to object in the trial court to entry of judgment without a jury (for example, by summary judgment) waives the ability to appeal on that basis.

As noted above, the case is required to be conducted as much like other civil cases as is possible. For that reason, the defendant officer may be called to testify even if it is anticipated that he or she will invoke the right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer questions. In a removal suit, the right against self-incrimination may not be asserted as a blanket immunity from testifying; instead it is properly asserted on a question-by-question basis in response to each specific question asked. There is another, related dilemma presented to an officer defending against a removal suit where the conduct in question may also give rise to criminal charges. No question of double jeopardy is involved in a chapter 87 civil proceeding, so the officer may be prosecuted criminally on the same charges either before or after the removal suit. Nor is the State required to shoulder the heavy burden of proof applicable in criminal cases. Because the suit is civil, the standard of proof to sustain a removal judgment is preponderance of the evidence rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

It is not yet known if a criminal complaint has been filed against Duty in conjunction with the civil suit. The petition details several criminal violations from Felony Aggravated Perjury, Felony Tampering with evidence, Official Oppression and Official Misconduct based on Duty’s own admissions and findings by the Court.

If the case moves forward, the next month will bring many legal motions and trial preparation. As Brumley described above, the deposition phase, where nothing is off limits, should in itself be entertaining given the information that would certainly come to light.

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Removal Suit Filed Against DA Jana Duty

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Well known and respected attorney Brian Bishop filed a removal petition on behalf of two Williamson County residents against DA Jana Duty.

The petition includes several charges ranging from Official Oppression, Official Misconduct and Aggravated Perjury.

Below is the Press Release and the Petition of Removal.

What comes next?

A Visiting Judge will be appointed to the case. The Visiting Judge will then either issue citation or it is dismissed. If a citation is issued, Duty must answer to the charges and the case moves forward.

The filing and appointment of a judge and issuance of citation should take no longer than a week or two. Duty could be suspended as early as the end of the month if the case moves forward. The suspension is without pay.

The legal fees incurred by Duty’s defense must be paid by Duty, not the taxpayers of Williamson County. Also by law, Duty can not hire a defense lawyer “pro bono” or at a reduced rate. That in itself is a criminal violation.


Media Advisory                                                                     Contact: James Bernsen

June 13, 2016                                                                                                (512) 497-6725

PETITION AND SUIT FILED TO REMOVE JANA DUTY FROM OFFICE

GEORGETOWN, TX – Two long-time Williamson County residents, supported by Williamson County business man and property owner Jim Schwertner, filed suit in the Williamson County District Court this morning to remove Jana Duty as Williamson County District Attorney.

The residents and Schwertner filed the suit after Schwertner, along with other county officials, business and community leaders, and concerned citizens asked Duty to step down last week, and to allow the newly elected District Attorney to take office immediately.

The lawsuit is based upon multiple judgments and orders from Williamson County District Courts and the State Bar of Texas which found that Duty concealed evidence in a capital murder trial, and has acted dishonestly, been untruthful to Williamson County judges and defense counsel, and violated court orders. The findings include a criminal contempt conviction for violating a District Court order.

On June 8th, business leader Jim Schwertner, along with several elected officials, business and community leaders and concerned citizens held a press conference demanding the immediate resignation of Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty. “Our current District Attorney has a history and pattern of disrespect and contempt for our judges, the law, and most importantly, the truth,” Schwertner said. “She has intentionally and willfully withheld evidence and misrepresented facts in a capital murder trial. Jana Duty has repeatedly violated court orders which lead to her arrest and incarceration. She has embarrassed Williamson County and disgraced the office of District Attorney.”

Schwertner actually supported and contributed to Duty’s campaign when she ran for District Attorney three years ago. “I supported her when she ran originally because she promised to clean up the Williamson County District Attorney’s office. But, she’s broken that promise to me and to Williamson County,” said Schwertner.

The State Bar of Texas sanctioned Duty for Professional misconduct in 2011 and again on June 6, 2016. Duty has plead guilty to violating court orders, dishonesty, deceit, misrepresentation and several other violations. Duty has also been found to have withheld evidence in a capital murder trial and jailed for contempt of court in 2015.

Schwertner concluded, “Jana Duty was given an opportunity to do the right thing for Williamson County but instead chose to place her own self-serving interests above the citizens of this county. She continues to launch personal attacks against others and me for standing up to her incompetency and her corrupt practices. She doesn’t deserve to stay in office, and Williamson County deserves to have a District Attorney who its citizens, judges, and law enforcement can trust and rely upon to do the right thing every day.”

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CLICK HERE TO READ REMOVAL PETITION 

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The Sun Sets on Duty

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“Sunset” came and went with Jana Duty digging her heels in, refusing calls from elected officials, business leaders, community leaders and media to resign as District Attorney. What faces her now is no doubt a daunting future.

According to business leader Jim Schwertner, Monday, a petition of removal will be filed. Duty calls his “threat” to file a petition “harassment”. No doubt whatsoever this can be said about Jim Schwertner; he is a very honorable and successful businessman who doesn’t threaten folks, his word is his bond.

The petition of removal will more than likely highlight criminal and civil violations Duty has been found guilty of or has plead guilty to, not “harassment”.

Those violations include her latest guilty plea to the following:

  • Disciplinary Rule 4.01 (a) Truthfulness in Statements to Others
  • Disciplinary Rule 3.04 (d) Violating Court Order
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.04 (a)(3) Dishonesty, Deceit, Misrepresentation
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.02 (a). Judicial and Legal Officials (a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory official or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

Duty has also been found guilty of violating a court order and was jailed for 10 days last year as a result.

Duty was also found to have lied under oath and withholding evidence in a Capital Murder trial.

These charges are grounds for removal and immediate suspension from office.

The removal process is quite simple, yet complicated.

The statue states:

(a) An officer may be removed for:

(1) incompetency; (2) official misconduct

By Statute, “Incompetency” means:

(A) gross ignorance of official duties;

(B) gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties; or

(C) unfitness or inability to promptly and properly discharge official duties because of a serious physical or mental defect that did not exist at the time of the officer’s election.

(3) “Official misconduct” means intentional, unlawful behavior relating to official duties by an officer entrusted with the administration of justice or the execution of the law. The term includes an intentional or corrupt failure, refusal, or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the officer by law.

After the petition for removal is filed, more than likely a visiting judge will be assigned to the case and they will make determination if a citation is issued and the case moves forward. After the issuance of the order requiring citation of the officer, the district judge may temporarily suspend the Duty and may appoint another person to perform the duties of the office.

A visiting judge being appointed takes away any appearance of “politics” being played by the infamous “good ole boys” Duty conjures up, playing victim to, every time she picks a fight with someone. Duty should have no problem with a visiting judge assigned to the case since a visiting judge was assigned to the failed removal suit she filed 5 years ago against the County Judge.

The filing and appointment of a judge and issuance of citation should take no longer than a week or two. Duty could be suspended as early as the end of the month if the case moves forward. The suspension is without pay. The legal fees incurred by Duty must be paid by Duty, not the taxpayers of Williamson County.

Also by law, Duty can not hire a defense lawyer “pro bono” or at a reduced rate. That in itself is a criminal violation.

According to sources, Duty has possibly already violated terms of her probation by attacking Schwertner, himself a victim of crime regarding the Schwertner bank robbery. Duty’s former First Assistant lied to a judge regarding a plea agreement in this case that led to his license being suspended for 12 months by the State Bar of Texas.

If the case moves forward and Duty is suspended, the next few months will bring legal motions, depositions where nothing is off limits and trial preparation. Contrary to Duty’s assertions, the case very well could be heard sooner than she suspects, long before her term officially ends on December 31.

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Wilco Sun Highlights Duty Dilemma: Duty Plays Victim

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The Wilco Sun published an indepth, two page story today regarding District Attorney Jana Duty. Duty gave quotes (by email, refusing to return calls) to the Sun regarding the current controversy engulfing the DA’s office.

The Sun begins with the press conference held on Wednesday by Business Leader Jim Schwertner demanding Duty’s immediate resignation by “sunset” today. The Sun then covered Duty being once again sanctioned by the State Bar of Texas, having her license suspended (probated) for 18 months for a multitude of violations including ‘fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and dishonesty’. Duty was also found to have violated court orders and to have withheld evidence in a Capital Murder trial.

Duty then played the “victim card” stating Mr. Schwertner’s “threat” to file a lawsuit was “one more form of harassment“. Duty said “First the contempt charge and trial and then the thousands and thousands of pages filed with the Bar….and now this”. Duty went on to say “They have tried to break me financially, spiratually and emotionally. All of this harassment has cost my family over $150,000.00”.

The described “harassment” was illegal, criminal actions, self inflicted by Duty. Duty plead guilty to violating a court order she describes as “harassment”. Duty also plead guilty to and admitted to committing multiple violations, including fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and dishonesty, by the State Bar she also calls “harassment”. Duty also calls being found to have withheld evidence in a Capital Murder trial “harassment. Now Duty calls the action by Mr. Schwertner “harassment”.

Duty then takes her patented “good ole boys” attack against Mr. Schwertner saying “I’ve spent 12 years trying to break up the power of the good ol’ boy network and now they are just very anxious to get back the power they once had. They can wait another six months, unless a judge says otherwise.” Apparently, Duty thinks a Mayor, a Judge, a State Senator, a County Judge and several highly respected community leaders and business owners are “good ol’ boys”. Many who stood behind Mr. Schwertner were in fact women. Some of those in attendance supported Duty in her bid against Bradley in 2012.

The Sun then goes on to say Duty did not attend the press conference but quoted her sister Joette Schoolscraft who didn’t help Duty’s case regarding the reports of Duty not showing up to the office. “She said Ms. Duty goes into the Justice Center weekly rather than every day but is nevertheless doing her job”. The Wilco Report has reported since last November, according to sources, Duty has showed up to her office very few times.

Duty’s sister then picks up the mantle attacking the “good ole boys” stating, “She will continue doing that until January, regardless of what the good ol’ boys want”. She went on to say “She (Duty) has battled against them since she took office as County Attorney. She got brusied, some bloodied but these last four years with these guys have been crazy.” She then attacks Mr. Schwertner, stating, “This guy (Mr. Schwertner) thinks he can tell the citizens what the want and what is good for them. They need to speak, not him”.

The citizens spoke loudly on March 1 when Duty was defeated resoundingly by Shawn Dick.

Schoolcraft went on to say the “anti-Duty group supported John Bradley who lost in 2012”. Ms. Schoolcraft may also be unaware that Mr. Schwertner contributed $5,000.00 to Duty’s campaign.

The story goes on to talk about Judge Bill Gravell speaking about how difficult it has been for him to conduct his job because of Duty’s absence and lack of structure in the DA’s Office.

Brent Webster, Duty’s new First Assistant then commented by denying Judge Gravell’s characterizations. “Any criticism of this office should differentiate between the elected position and the people who are doing this job to fight for victims. The people who work here are not running for office, they are here to fight for victims.” Webster failed to mention he too ran for office in the March 2016 primary, many days absent from his post travelling around the State campaigning.

Mr. Webster also fails to understand a prosecutor has the responsibility to see that justice is done, and not simply to be an advocate. The Code of Criminal Procedure states: “It shall be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys, including any special prosecutors, not to convict, but to see that justice is done. They shall not suppress facts or secrete witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused.” 

Former embattled Leander Mayor John Cowman chimed in defending Duty stating “This is a great way to disenfranchise voters. They have already spoken. Basically my position, speaking for voters, is we are not amused.” Mr. Cowman is correct, the voters spoke on March 1. It is also unclear what “voters” Mr. Cowman is “speaking for”. There were only three at the press conference in support of Duty, one of which is not a resident of Williamson County.

In closing, Schoolcraft again comments regarding Duty’s “rumored” plans to move out of the country when she leaves office. Duty herself posted on social media she was leaving the country, moving to Central America.

Schoolcraft closes by saying “Her integrity has been questioned and she has not been ale to speak for herself because of the gag order”. Duty herself admitted to and plead guilty to “Dishonesty, Deceit, Misrepresentation” and other criminal issues. Duty was found guilty , at trial, by a visiting judge from Houston in one instance of her criminal activity and regarding the other issues, she wasn’t forced to plead guilty and could have taken the matter to a hearing. As for the “gag order” excuse, that didn’t stop Duty today (by email) from once again attacking a victim of crime.

In a separate editorial article, the Sun called on Duty to resign.

Grab a copy of the Wilco Sun for details.

 

 

 

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Austin American Statesman Calling For Duty To Resign

Below is a story just published by the Austin American Statesman Opinion Staff Calling for Duty to resign.

SantaCruz: Williamson Co. District Attorney Jana Duty should resign

Posted: 2:07 p.m. Friday, June 10, 2016


Jana Duty has a choice to make: Stay as Williamson County District Attorney through the end of her term or step down from the post as soon as possible.

At least that is the ultimatum that business leaders in Williamson County have given her, citing her most recent sanction by the state bar as reason enough for her to step down.

If Duty leaves, it will be under heightened criticism that has put into question her abilities as an officer of the court. If she stays, she faces strong odds against her in front of a judge who could possibly force her exit and compromise Duty’s credibility as counsel.

For Duty, neither option may seem ideal. But as the tensions between Duty and her critics have reached a new level of unpleasantness, it is time to bow out in a way that best suits her reputation and the community’s welfare. By stepping down, Duty puts Williamson County taxpayers first — and also allows the public to turn the page on her tumultuous tenure.

On Wednesday, a group of local business leaders – led by cattle trader Jim Schwertner – held a news conference demanding that Duty resign by sunset Friday.

“If she does not, we will petition the court to have her removed as district attorney of Williamson County,” Schwertner said. Duty has made it clear to the American-Statesman that she has no plans to step down.

The call for Duty’s resignation comes as no surprise given the multiple grievances filed against her since taking the job as district attorney in 2012. Most of those complaints stem from the capital murder case of Crispin Harmel.

Last week, Duty was placed on probation for 18 months by the state bar for improprieties related to the case. Duty may continue to practice law as long as she doesn’t run afoul of the terms of her probation.

It was because of the Harmel case that Central Texans got a close look at the strained relationship between Duty and other parties of the court. The issues raised in that case and other disputes are among the key reasons she lost her March primary election — 44 percent to Shawn Dick’s 56 percent. After endorsing her in 2012 in large part to restore public trust eroded by former Williamson County district attorney John Bradley, the American-Statesman’s Editorial Board was unable to endorse her in March because of Duty’s unexplained conduct in several areas. The board, in reflecting the sentiments of Williamson County residents, believed voters deserved answers for her actions while in office. However, she refused to meet with us to speak about her record and whether key reforms she promised had come to fruition.

Stepping down would allow the governor to appoint Duty’s replacement — likely Dick or a placeholder for Dick, the victor in the primary. Given Williamson County Republican leanings, Dick is her likely successor. The move would allow the county to move on with the business of dispensing justice fairly and quickly.

Public service requires making tough choices – among them is placing personal ego on the back burner for the public good.

It’s time for Duty to do what’s best for the county.

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Jana Duty’s Sister Validates Claims Duty Is Not Showing Up To Office

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At yesterdays press conference, Joette Schoolcraft, sister of Jana Duty validated claims that Jana Duty is not showing up to work at the DA’s office.

The Wilco Report and several media outlets have reported for several months Duty has been absent at the DA’s Office.

One of Duty’s friends, Kim Polk, who accompanied Schoolcraft at the press conference said there was no proof Duty was not showing up to work. According to the Statesman:

“Polk said no one there had any proof that Duty wasn’t showing up to work. Polk said Duty didn’t have to be sitting at her desk to be doing her job.”

“Not only are they not believable, but I have yet to hear one single thing that proves some of these allegations,” said Polk.

Then, Schoolcraft, in an attempt to defend her sister, provided that “one single thing” when she interviewed with KVUE. The following is from KVUW News:

Duty’s sister, Joette Schoolcraft, spoke to KVUE, saying Duty has been working remotely.

“For some of these older generation that do not get that you don’t have to go into an office, and they’re going to call her out for not doing her job based on no facts, zero facts, shame on them,” said Schoolcraft.

One comment from a reader posted yesterday regarding Polk’s statement refuted Polk’s assessment that “she does not have to be sitting at her desk to do her job”and Schoolcraft’s defense of Duty working from home.

Ms. Polk, The Office of the District Attorney is a public sector job in which the person who holds it must answer to the public who elected her and pays her salary. She must be _accessible_ to the public and to her colleagues in the system of law and order. If Jana duty wants to work from home she can get a job in the private sector. Why not take that law license she somehow received, go into private practice, and work from home or by her pool all she wants. If she can find clients who think a lawyer who lies under oath and intentionally withholds evidence is worth $300 an hour, good for her. So yes, she does need to “be at her desk”.

According to Jim Schwertner, a removal suit will be filed on Monday if Duty does not resign on Friday. We will have updates as they become available.

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DA Jana Duty’s Resignation Demanded At Press Conference

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Before a large group of TV cameras, reporters and citizens, Business Leader Jim Schwertner held a press conference today asking for the resignation of Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty “by sunset Friday”. Schwertner laid out a litany of wrongdoing, including perjury, fraud and a criminal conviction, by Duty while in office and her absence from work.

Mr. Schwertner was surrounded by local and State elected officials along with community leaders including County Judge Dan Gattis, State Senator Charles Schwertner, Judge Bill Gravell, County Treasurer Jerri Jones, Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross, Nyle Maxwell, attorneys and many others.

Duty apparently had a relative in the crowd (her sister Joette Schoolcraft who is not a resident of Williamson County) defending her absence from work, and according to some in attendance, a friend of Duty (Kim Polk) who accompanied Schoolcraft was “very vocal” during the Q&A session of the press conference. According to the Statesman, “Kim Polk said no one there had any proof that Duty wasn’t showing up to work. Polk said Duty didn’t have to be sitting at her desk to be doing her job.” Sources (who are actual employees in the courthouse) have stated Duty is largely absent from work. Duty refuses to answer media calls to answer the question of her absence and instead sends a relative to speak on her behalf.

One person in attendance stated “An elected official paid by tax dollars not answering simple questions, being held accountable, instead sends their sister to defend her? Unbelievable. But even at this point if Duty does refute her attendance at work, who would believe it? She just plead guilty to ‘fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and dishonesty’”.

Regardless of the defense and attempted deflection of Duty’s criminal behavior by her relatives, the facts remain Duty lied under oath, withheld evidence in a capital murder trial, violated court orders and was thrown in jail. Now, she and her relatives attack a victim of crime who is asking for her resignation calling him a “political enemy”. Her relatives have no response to Duty’s criminal behavior and try to paint today’s event as “political”.

Judge Bill Gravell also spoke at the press conference adding, “In the past year, I have found it increasingly difficult to communicate with Ms. Duty or her staff regarding criminal cases because she has been largely absent from her post. This makes doing my own job more challenging and very difficult to serve the people of Williamson County in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Specifically, 9 Prosecutors have resigned from the District Attorney’s Office since Ms. Duty took office, 7 of those she personally hired. There is no structure or leadership in the office that is, ironically, supposed to be the source of structure and leadership in this county’s justice system.”

Duty, released her own response yesterday (by email) saying “I plan to finish out my term. I have absolutely no plans to buckle to the will of my political enemies and resign early. They are simply wasting everyone’s time.”

         More as this story develops.

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Duty Remains Defiant: Says She Is Not Going Anywhere

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UPDATED 7:02pm

Jana Duty made the following quote to the Austin American Statesman.“I have no plans to resign my position and I will be staying on until the end of my term,” she said. “No amount of political pressure from my political enemies will change this. They are simply wasting everybody’s time.”

The Williamson County Sun is reporting that Jana Duty responded (by email) regarding calls for her to resign stating: “I do not plan to step down. I plan to finish out my term”.

Duty draws a salary of over 150,000.00 a year and according to sources at the courthouse only shows up to the office “maybe once a week” since November of last year.

Duty has maintained a media blackout, refusing to answer or return calls from any outlet and apparently refused to comment further to The Sun about her latest sanction by the State Bar for Professional Misconduct regarding conduct involving “fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and dishonesty”.

The Sun goes on to talk about the possibility of a removal suit being filed against Duty. The same action taken against former Sheriff John Maspero in 2003.

According to sources in the Courthouse, the DA’s Office is in shambles. Of the 7 Prosecutors Duty hired in 2013 when she took office, all have since left. Only three of those retained by Duty remain, one being Brent Webster who now serves as her First Assistant and has never sat First Chair in a single felony trial. Duty’s former First Assistant who departed last month was also sanctioned by the State Bar last week for lying to a Judge regarding a plea deal.

We will have a full report after tomorrow’s press conference.

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06/08/2016 Press Conference Location Update

There has been a correction in the Press Release for tomorrow’s Press Conference calling for District Attorney Jana Duty’s immediate resignation. It will be held at 710 S. Main Street in Georgetown. (Courthouse on the square)

 

Media Advisory
Event: Business leaders call for DA’s resignation
Location: Williamson County Courthouse
710 S. Main St. Georgetown, Tx.
Time: 10 a.m.

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Business Leader To Hold Press Conference Demanding DA Jana Duty Resign

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Business leader Jim Schwertner just put out a press release regarding a Press Conference that is being held at 10am tomorrow morning on the Courthouse steps in Georgetown. According to the press release, Mr. Schwertner, several elected officials, business leaders and concerned citizens will attend.  They are demanding the immediate resignation of Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty.

Duty was sanctioned by the State Bar of Texas for the second time yesterday. Her law license was suspended for 18 months. The suspension was fully probated and the State Bar has placed Duty on 18 months probation. Over the past year, Duty has been found to have intentionally withheld evidence in a capital murder case, admitted to lying under oath, found guilty of violating a court order, arrested and jailed for contempt of court and rarely shows up to work. Several media outlets have attempted to contact Duty but she refuses to take their calls.

Duty is not only dodging media calls, according to sources at the courthouse, is only showing up to work “maybe once a week” since last November.

Duty agreed to a plea deal with the State Bar of Texas who concluded that the following Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct have been violated by Duty. Duty acknowledged and agreed she violated these rules and was sanctioned for Professional Misconduct: 4.01 (a), 3.04(d), 8.02(a), 8.04(a)(3).

  • Disciplinary Rule 4.01 (a) Truthfulness in Statements to Others
  • Disciplinary Rule 3.04 (d) Violating Court Order
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.04 (a)(3) Dishonesty, Deceit, Misrepresentation
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.02 (a). Judicial and Legal Officials (a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory official or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

Below is a press release from Jim Schwertner.

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KXAN REPORTING: DA Jana Duty Takes Plea Deal To Avoid Hearing

DA Jana Duty

DA Jana Duty

KXAN is now reporting DA Jana Duty negotiated and accepted a plea deal acknowledging she lied in a Capital Murder trial and violated a court order. The Evidentiary Panel and Duty agreed and concluded that the following Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct have been violated: 4.01 (a), 3.04(d), 8.02(a), 8.04(a)(3).

  • Disciplinary Rule 4.01 (a) Truthfulness in Statements to Others
  • Disciplinary Rule 3.04 (d) Violating Court Order
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.04 (a)(3) Dishonesty, Deceit, Misrepresentation
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.02 (a). Judicial and Legal Officials (a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory official or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

Click here to read the Plea Agreement between Duty and the State Bar of Texas.

Keep in mind, Duty penned a memo regarding a Georgetown Officer a few years earlier stating the officers credibility was in question and that officer could not be a credible witness in trial and therefore was barred from being used as a witness. That officer was later fired based in part on Duty’s memo.

Duty herself has now plead guilty to lying under oath, is on probation, was found to have intentionally withheld evidence, found to have violated a court order, has been sanctioned prior by the State Bar of Texas, spent 10 days in jail; but still serves as District Attorney.

Below is the story from KXAN. 

Published: Updated:

GEORGETOWN, TX (KXAN) – The State Bar of Texas has publicly sanctioned Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty for professional misconduct for intentionally withholding evidence from defense attorneys and violating a gag order in the same case.

According to the agreed judgment of probated suspension released by the State Bar’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Duty intentionally withheld evidence from defense attorneys in the murder case against Crispin Harmel, accused of killing Jessical Kalaher. The Evidentiary Panel, which Duty selected instead of a public court proceeding to hear the grievances filed against her, also found she intentionally violated a gag order imposed by the court in the Harmel case.

District Judge Rick Kennon had previously determined Duty withheld evidence in the Harmel case, which is still pending in his court, after the first trial was declared a mistrial over the withheld evidence. Harmel now awaits a second trial. Judge Kennon also found duty violated his gag order and talked to media about the Harmel case. Duty was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Duty agreed to an 18-month fully probated suspension of her law license, meaning she can still practice law as long as she doesn’t violate the law or any rules of professional misconduct during the probationary period. She must also comply with the minimum continuing legal education requirements of the State Bar of Texas and pay $3,250.00 in attorney fees to the State Bar.

It’s not the first time Duty has been disciplined by the State Bar. In 2011, while serving as the Williamson County Attorney Duty released confidential information from an executive session of a Williamson County Commissioners Court meeting.

Duty recently lost her bid for re-election to attorney Shawn Dick. Since losing the election, Duty has largely been absent from work according to sources at the courthouse.

She has not responded to multiple attempts to contact her for comment.

 

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DA Jana Duty Sanctioned By State Bar of Texas….. Again

The State Bar of Texas is reporting that Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty received a “Fully Probated” 18 month suspension of her license. This mean Duty can still practice law but is on “probation” for the next 18 months. We are in the process of obtaining conditions of her “probation” and ruling.

Regardless of the ruling, Duty is still not showing up to work.

From the State Bar of Texas website:

PUBLIC DISCIPLINARY HISTORY
State of Texas*
Sanction Entry date (Start-End)Sanction (Start-End)Probation
Fully Probated Suspension 06/01/2016 06/01/2016 – 11/30/2017
Public Reprimand 11/22/2011
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Hutto City Manager Karen Daly Resigns

According to sources who attended tonights meeting, Hutto City Manager Karen Daly resigned. Sources say the Council went in to Executive Session to discuss the City Manager and returned a very short time later with a motion to “accept the resignation” of Daly.

We will have more as the story develops.

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KXAN Now Reporting On Former DA First Assistant State Bar Sanction

Below is the full text of the story from KXAN.

Published:

GEORGETOWN, TX (KXAN) – The State Bar of Texas has publicly sanctioned attorney Mark Brunner, the former 1st assistant district attorney for outgoing Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty. Brunner resigned his post at the district attorney’s office in April, stating he wanted to focus on his private law practice.

The sanction against Brunner stems from an armed robbery case he prosecuted against Jesse Gamboa, who pleaded guilty to robbing the Schwertner State Bank through a plea agreement with Brunner. According to the agreed judgment released by the State Bar’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Brunner lied to District Judge Donna King about having sought approval of the plea agreement from the victims in the case.

The judgment states:

“Respondent represented the State of Texas in Cause No. 14-0228-1<26, The State of Texas v. Jesse Celedon Gamboa. Mr.Gamboa was charged with four counts of Aggravated Robbery for robbing a bank. On or about January 24, 2015, Respondent and Mr. Gamboa’s counsel informed the Court that a plea agreement was possible. The Court instructed Respondent to talk to the victims. On January 25, 2015, at the plea hearing, the Court asked Respondent, “Has the State had contact with the victims in this case?” Respondent replied, “Your Honor, yes. I’ve spoken with the – – Mr. Schwertner, who owns the bank. He’s satisfied with the plea bargain agreement, and I made contact as well with the listed victims in the case.” This statement was false as the four listed victims were unaware of the plea agreement. Before accepting the plea, the Court stated, ” … but for the acquiescence of this agreement by the victims in this case, I would not be going along with this agreement.” Respondent did nothing to correct the false statement he made to the Court.”

Brunner agreed to the sanction of a probated suspension of his law license for one year beginning June 1, 2016 and ending on May 31, 2016. While on probation Brunner cannot engage in any profession misconduct or violate any state or federal laws. He must comply with minimum continuing legal education requirements and pay $1,169.05 in attorney fees to the State Bar of Texas. He must also “promptly respond to any request for information from the Chief Disciplinary Counsel in connection with any investigation of any allegations of professional misconduct.”

Several complaints of misconduct are still pending against Brunner’s former boss, Jana Duty who a district judge found “intentionally” withheld evidence from defense lawyers in a case she and Brunner were prosecuting together.  That murder case against Crispin Harmel is still pending as he awaits a second trial for the 2009 death of Jessika Kalaher. The first was declared a mistrial over the video evidence defense lawyers were not able to access.

Duty recently lost her bid for re-election to attorney Shawn Dick. Since losing the election Duty has largely been absent from work according to sources at the courthouse. With Brunner’s departure she appointed Brent Webster as her 1stassistant.

During Brunner’s probationary period he can still practice law but if he violates the terms of the agreed judgment, his probation could be revoked and he could be actively suspended for the remainder of the term. KXAN tried to reach Brunner for comment but he has not yet returned communication.

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Former DA First Assistant Sanctioned By The State Bar of Texas

As we reported months ago, DA First Assistant Mark Brunner was under investigation by the State Bar of Texas.

Brunner abruptly resigned his position as First Assistant effective April 30, 2016. The State Bar of Texas is now reporting Brunner’s license was suspended for one year on May 23, 2016. The suspension was fully probated from June 1, 2016 until May 31, 2017.

 

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Jana Duty is still not showing up to work and is making it known she is moving to Central America leaving many to believe the State Bar is about to lower the boom on her as well.

More details as they become available.

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