Judge Morris’ Opinion States Considered All Filings But Provides No Rationale
Judge Rick Morris of the 146th Judicial District Court of Bell County today issued an order that dismissed the civil lawsuit filed December 22 by Williamson County Attorney Jana Duty to remove County Judge Dan A. Gattis for alleged incompetence and official misconduct.
The Order of Dismissal states the lawsuit “is dismissed with prejudice,” meaning the plaintiff is barred from bringing an action on the same claim.
The order was filed in the office of Williamson County District Clerk Lisa David today at 1:48pm.
County Attorney Duty issued a press release stating “the law does not require that any reason be given for the dismissal and none was given in this case. As there is no right of appeal, I consider this case closed.
“I want to assure the citizens of Williamson County that I will continue to be vigilant in fulfilling the duties of the Office of County Attorney and do my best to ensure the interests of the citizens of Williamson County are protected.”
Connie Watson, public information officer for Williamson County, said that Judge Gattis is out of the office and no statement would be issued today.
Judge Morris’ office stated that the Code of Judicial Conduct prevents him from commenting on this case.
Gattis’ attorney Martha Dickie did not immediately return a call asking for comment.
The Austin Bulldog published a comprehensive report about the removal lawsuit on December 29, and updates on January 3, January 4, and January 6 (scroll down from this story to read.)
A related report was published January 17 concerning the Williamson County Commissioners Court’s agenda item to file a grievance against Duty with the State Bar of Texas. That item is now on the agenda for next Tuesday, January 25.
The Williamson County Public Policy Coalition yesterday sent a letter to request that Judge Gattis and Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Morrison recuse themselves from considering the filing of a grievance due to a conflict of interest. Morrison was named in one of the allegations in the removal lawsuit.
Updated 5:03pm: County Attorney Duty just issued a revised press release to clarify that Texas Local Government Code Section 87.001 is cited in the dismissal order, which states, “An officer may not be removed under this chapter for an act the officer committed before election to office.” This is the “forgiveness doctrine” that was explained at length in The Austin Bulldog’s previous reports on this lawsuit.
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