Williamson County District Attorney
Complaint Filed on Williamson County Attorney
Posted Monday January 17, 2011 8:19pm
to Remove Williamson County Judge Gattis
Lawyer Files Complaint on County Attorney Duty
as Removal Lawsuit Awaits Go-No Go Decision
by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog
Attorney Kerry E. Russell of the Georgetown law firm Russell & Rodriguez LLP filed a criminal complaint with Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, alleging that Williamson County Attorney Jana Duty committed a Class A misdemeanor offense through “intentional destruction of a local government record.”
“...I am requesting that you file charges and prosecute Ms. Duty for this violation,” Russell states in his January 13 letter addressed to Bradley. The record referred is a memorandum dated June 1, 2008, that Duty sent to three Williamson County Court at Law judges. A copy of that memorandum, with gaps in the text indicating that some of the content is missing, is included Attachment B to Russell’s complaint.
County Attorney Duty said Russell’s criminal complaint is without merit and was lodged as a means of retaliating against her in response to her civil lawsuit to suspend and remove Williamson County Judge Dan A. Gattis from office for alleged incompetence and official misconduct. The lawsuit alleges five instances of incompetence and official misconduct by the judge, who issued a statement indicating there has been no misconduct or violations of law. The Austin Bulldog reported on that lawsuit December 29.
The removal lawsuit is pending a decision by Judge Rick Morris of the 146th Judicial District Court of Bell County about whether to have Judge Gattis served citation. If Morris decides yes, the lawsuit will proceed. If he decides no, then the lawsuit dies and that decision may not be appealed. Information about Judge Morris was published by The Austin Bulldog January 3.
Whether Russell’s complaint was filed as retaliation for the lawsuit cannot be determined but circumstances indicate that’s possible. The Williamson County Sun reported yesterday that Gattis said he gave Russell a copy of the letter. Gattis also told the Sun there needs to be an investigation of possible misconduct by Duty, but that he is not involved and did not ask Russell to pursue it.
District Attorney Bradley told the Sun he has a duty to evaluate the complaint.
Duty thinks otherwise. She says the statute of limitations for a Class A misdemeanor—if one was actually committed—is two years. The Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 12.02(a), states “An indictment or information for any Class A or Class B misdemeanor may be presented within two years from the date of the commission of the offense, and not afterward.” Duty’s memorandum was dated June 1, 2008, more than two and a half years ago.
“Bradley should have said he looked at the complaint and said there’s nothing he can do because the statute of limitations has run,” Duty says.
Alleged offense complicated
Lawsuit Seeks to Remove Williamson County Judge
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.”
County Attorney Steps Up Payments Investigation
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.”
Council Member Berryman Expenses Detailed
Posted Tuesday November 9, 2010 4:36pm
in Response to Request and Complaint
After the Fact Compilation
Now Open to Public Scrutiny
© The Austin Bulldog 2010
Georgetown Council Member Pat Berryman has at last provided a report of the expenses she claims to have incurred, and for which she was retroactively issued a payment of $13,600 by the City of Georgetown.
The 20-page report comes 10 months after Berryman was paid, a result of The Austin Bulldog’s open records request and subsequent complaints filed with several law enforcement agencies.
“The attached expense report is accurate to my recollection and has been verified by the research I have done with city staff, and my own records,” Berryman states in an October 15 cover letter.
“It was a difficult task because so much time has elapsed from this time period. I think it should be noted that the Georgetown City Council was not required by the city resolution to provide documentation of any kind. Therefore, it was not anticipated this would occur.
“None of the other council members have been or are being required to provide this in depth information regarding the reimbursement for expenses. I must say that it is unfair to be singled out in this manner.”
Berryman only state employee on council
The Austin Bulldog targeted Berryman because she was the only state employee serving on the council during the period covered by her $13,600 payment, July 2008 through December 2009. As a state employee, she was prohibited by Section 40(b) of the Texas Constitution from drawing a salary for service as an elected official. Berryman should prove her expenses are legitimate and not a means to circumvent the salary prohibition, according to opinions issued by the Texas Attorney General.
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