Williamson County Attorney
County Judge Dan A. Gattis from Office
County Attorney Jana Duty Alleges Unlawful Hiring
and Payments, Incompetence, Official Misconduct
© The Austin Bulldog 2010
Williamson County Attorney Jana Duty previously stated she had obtained a commitment for a special prosecutor who would pursue criminal charges against Williamson County Judge Dan A. Gattis and Round Rock Attorney Mike Davis if an independent investigation provided evidence that the law had been broken.
Duty instead used an entirely different tactic and filed a 140-page civil lawsuit on December 22 (Cause Number 10-1428-C26). The lawsuit, obtained today by The Austin Bulldog, asks the court to suspend Gattis and appoint another person to perform the duties of county judge until final judgment and, upon trial by jury and a final judgment, to remove Gattis from his position as county judge.
Duty was on out of town today and did not immediately respond to an e-mail and voice mail requesting comment.
A lawyer to defend Gattis against Duty’s lawsuit has not yet been retained, Connie Watson, public information officer for Williamson County, said today. Authorization to hire an attorney to represent Gattis may be placed on the agenda for next week’s Commissioners Court meeting, she said.
Gattis issued a statement this afternoon, which says, in part, “The overwhelming majority of the allegations now being made by Ms. Duty have been examined by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the Texas Rangers, the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office, and the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office ... and the result has continuously been that there has been no misconduct or violations of the law of any kind.”
However, the only matter addressed in Duty’s lawsuit that actually may have been investigated, according to press reports, was the inappropriate payments made to Mike Davis for representing Judge Don Higginbotham of Williamson County Court at Law No. 3 for alleged sexual harassment.
The Austin Bulldog reported November 30 that both the Texas Rangers and the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office said they had discussed the matter with Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, but both said they did not participate in any investigation. The Attorney General’s Office would not comment.
Attorney Jason Nassour of the Austin law firm of Keel and Nassour L.L.P. assisted Duty in preparing the lawsuit to remove Judge Gattis.
Nassour says, “What agency comes out and does an investigation and doesn’t issue a statement? All we have is the word of John Bradley, who says he did an investigation and found no wrongdoing.”
Investigation of Improper Payments
District Attorney’s Claimed Investigation
Not Confirmed by Agencies He Named
Investigative Report by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2010
For a while it looked like Williamson County Judge Dan Gattis and Round Rock attorney Mike Davis were out of the line of fire and would not be prosecuted for county payments to Davis for representing Judge Don Higginbotham of Williamson County Court at Law No. 3 against claims of sexual harassment.
Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said his office had conducted an investigation and found no criminal conduct in Davis inappropriately billing the county to represent Higginbotham.
Nor did Bradley find reason to prosecute Judge Gattis for possibly encouraging Davis to represent Higginbotham at county expense without getting authorization of the others on the commissioners court.
But Williamson County Attorney Jana Duty isn’t dropping the matter. She is seeking an independent investigation into whether the law was broken when Gattis allegedly arranged for attorney Mike Davis to defend Higginbotham.`
Duty has raised the ante by lining up an investigation by getting a commitment for a special prosecutor who would pursue criminal charges if the independent investigation provides evidence that the law has been broken.
“Bradley and Gattis may think I’m dropping it,” Duty told The Austin Bulldog. “They should know better. I’m not sweeping this under the carpet.”
Posted Tuesday November 23, 2010 10:34pm
Sexual Harassment, and Retaliation
Former County Court at Law No. 3
Judge Don Higginbotham Accused
© The Austin Bulldog 2010
What started out as a sexual harassment complaint against Williamson County Court at Law No. 3 Judge Donald Higginbotham has turned into a full-blown federal lawsuit that adds retaliation to the allegations.
Attorney Gregg Rosenberg of the Houston firm of Rosenberg and Sprovach filed the lawsuit, Kimberly Lee and Sharon McGuyer v. Williamson County, in federal court November 23.
The lawsuit lists more than a dozen instances in which Judge Higginbotham allegedly made comments that were insulting, demeaning, and abusive. Several of the alleged comments involved vulgarity or sexual references.
For example, in “November 2009,” the lawsuit alleges, “Plaintiff Lee was walking in the hallway when Judge Higginbotham turned to her and said, ‘I hate to tell you this, but in those pants you are wearing, you have the ass of a Ni**er.’”
“Also in November 2009, when Plaintiff Lee asked for a peppermint, the Judge said he had something for Plaintiff Lee to suck on,” the lawsuit alleges.
When he found court coordinator Amanda Vega’s vehicle in his parking space, according to the lawsuit, Higginbotham, neck veins bulging, hands clamped into fists, said, “You are nothing but a bunch of fu**ing pukes, nothing but a bunch of go**amn fu**ing pukes! Get out of here and move your car, move it, move it, move it!”
Higginbotham could not be reached for comment.