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Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis didn’t recuse himself from nor did he ever take control of the Wooten trial. Mr. Willis now wishes to take “control” just long enough to have Judge Kerry Russell remove from the case the pesky Assistant Attorneys General Harry White and Brian Chandler who are bothering his wife, Judge Jill Willis.
With his Motion for the Appointment of a New, Impartial and Disinterested Attorney Pro Tem, Collin County’s District Attorney Greg Willis attempts to obtain a ruling on what would be better captioned as a Motion to Rescind the Recusal of the Former District Attorney. The case law he cites clearly supports the position that he should be given control over the case if he is not otherwise disqualified, but in the body of the motion he doesn’t request Judge Russell to give him control over the case so that he can subsequently recuse himself and request the appointment of new attorneys pro tem. Instead, he asks Judge Russell to roll a three-step process into one. Mr. Willis expects Judge Russell to take the full responsibility for removing White and Chandler and then see to the appointment of new attorneys pro tem without Willis first actually taking control of the case.
Mr. Willis’ lengthy dissertation concerning alleged impropriety of White and Chandler is totally unnecessary if, in fact, his motion could be read as a Motion to Rescind the Recusal of the Former District Attorney. The law is straight up and down. The former district attorney, John Roach, recused himself. He then appointed the Office of the Attorney General to provide the attorneys pro tem who arrived in the form of Mr. White and Mr. Chandler. As the new district attorney Willis can request to remove the attorneys pro tem from the case with no questions asked. Mr. Willis needs to prove nothing to take control of the case, but in his prayer for relief he doesn’t ask for the one thing all of his citations to statutes and case law allow.
Willis’ citation to Coleman v. State, 246 S.W.3d 76, 85 (Tex. Crim.App.2008) has a fact pattern that supports his position. In Coleman, a former district attorney recused himself from prosecuting a case and attorneys pro tem were appointed. Nine days before trial, a new district attorney took office, but the new district attorney didn’t file a Motion to Rescind the Recusal of the Former District Attorney. He instead allowed the attorneys pro tem to finish the case. It was the defendant who filed a motion arguing that the new district attorney was qualified to handle the trial, and therefore the attorneys pro tem had no legal authority to continue their representation of the State. The defendant lost and this case memorializes the right of an incoming district attorney to remove the attorneys pro tem and take over a case so long as he is not otherwise disqualified.
In this case, Greg Willis has waited seven full months to make a less than exact effort to exercise his right to control of the Wooten matter. And he also waited until a huge personal conflict of interest grew into a public spectacle; specifically the repeated requests by Harry White to interview Jill Willis and her refusal to allow it.
This conflict of interest could easily disqualify Mr. Willis, but the law doesn’t allow Judge Russell to make that call except very narrow circumstances. It’s up to Greg Willis to recuse himself from the case, but the law first requires he make himself a party to it.
Mr. Willis hopes Judge Russell will ignore the fact the White and Chandler, who he seeks to remove, had subpoenaed his wife to testify concerning her “special relationship” with Judge Suzanne Wooten.
During the pre-trial hearing on the 29th of July, Judge Jill Willis’ attorney, Mr. Michael Pezzulli, brought a motion to quash the subpoena issued to Judge Willis by Harry White.
Judge Kerry Russell was unimpressed by Mr. Pezzulli’s arguments.
To reinforce his right to have Jill Willis’ testimony, Harry White filed the State’s Brief on Judge Willis’ Motion to Quash Trial Subpoena. If White’s citations to law hold up, his motion will require Jill Willis will to give testimony. A bright young man like Harry White isn’t likely to ask questions to which he does not already know the answers.
It seems the district attorney’s new motion is a direct response to Mr. White’s State’s Brief on Judge Willis’ Motion to Quash Trial Subpoena. The same day it was filed, it emptied his office of his senior assistant district attorneys. Mr.Waddill and Mr. Skinner resigned. Perhaps Waddill and Skinner fled because the Wooten case is a cancer that has metastasized to the Office of the District Attorney. It is equally possible this was a tactical move to ensure no qualified assistant district attorneys were available to take the case to trial if Judge Russell became testy about the appointment of yet another attorney pro tem. Of course, no one will ever know why Waddill and Skinner resigned simultaneously because in the insular world of the Collin County courts ordinary folks don’t have a “need to know.”
Team Wooten appears spooked by the Attorney General’s new indictment with its two new much easier prove charges and also by White and Chandler’s Notice of Intent to Introduce Extraneous Offenses, Unadjudicated Offenses, Bad Acts and Punishment Evidence. Mr. Willis may mistakenly believe this notice only refers to Wooten’s request for the FBI investigation into the actions of John Roach and his attorneys pro tem. This same notice could also apply to any of Wooten’s co-defendants and be used as leverage for what is nearly impossible to do in the Fifth Court of Appeals at Dallas, provide strict proof of a bi-lateral agreement among the parties when bribery of a public official is charged. This almost always requires that one party of the agreement become a witness for the prosecution.
Given the obvious conflict of interest, Mr. Willis’ actions could cause the citizens of Collin County to lose faith in the integrity of its district attorney.
State's Brief on Judge Willis' Motion to Quash Trial Subpoena, Harry E. White, August 5, 2011
But that's essentially what he's trying to do in his motion: Get control (as only elected DA can) just long enough to request that someone new be appointed without any suggestion from him. Who cares that he's doing it all in the same motion? Yes, Harry White is trying to drag Jill Willis into his and John Roach's and Greg Abbott's BS, and, naturally, she doesn't want to be. Who would? Certainly, this is one of the reasons Greg Willis realizes that it wouldn't be appropriate for his office to keep the case. Getting a new, truly independent prosecutor won't keep his wife from being subpoenaed again if she truly has relevant testimony to offer. Trying to suggest that that's some kind of motive is pretty weak.
"The former district attorney, John Roach, recused himself. He then appointed the Office of the Attorney General to provide the attorneys pro tem who arrived in the form of Mr. White and Mr. Chandler."
That's not quite how it happened: John Roach launched an investigation against a political foe and had Harry White working under him while he was doing it. Finally, as arrogant as Roach was, not even he could deny how conflicted his office was, so he had the guy that had been working under him appointed, despite the fact that he was tainted by Roach's conflict all along.
"The same day it was filed, it emptied his office of his senior assistant district attorneys."
What proof do you have that Willis's filing of that motion caused anyone to leave his office? Zero. In fact, Waddill and Skinner are both on record saying their decision had nothing to do with that matter. I guess you don't believe them, but it is incredibly irresponsible for you to write such nonsense. By the way, there remain many exceedingly talented and experienced prosecutors in the DA's office, some with more experience and, many would argue, more talent than Waddill and Skinner. (Sorry, David. Sorry, Jim. I'm sure many would argue that you guys are the best, too. Point is that this guy, John, doesn't know what he's talking about.)
"Team Wooten appears spooked by the Attorney General’s new indictment . . . "
I don't think Judge Wooten or anyone else is spooked by anything but the abuse of office that John Roach started a long time ago and which Greg Abbott and his "bright young man" (your words--see also Chris Matthews's tingly feeling caused by Barrack Obama) continue. People who are spooked don't demand speedy trials, as she has continuously done. Spooked people try to drag things out and avoid trial by filing new indictments days before a case is to go to trial.
Greg Willis did the right thing by pointing out how inappropriate it is for the Attorney General to be prosecuting these cases. At the same time, he recognized that it wouldn't be appropriate, either, for an office that he heads to take the case over, so he simultaneously asked the judge to appoint someone wholly independent with no suggestion from himself. He had to have known that some people would question his motives, and he still did the right thing. It's one thing for some anonymous dope to mouth off in a comment to one of your blog posts, but it's unbelievable that you would promote such speculation yourself.
Offended, is your child's name "John" by chance?
Next some drug addict's parent will tell me that he's offended because I called someone a "dope."
Bill - you have become obsessed with finding things wrong at the courthouse. The fact of the matter is that the "wrong" at the courthouse left on January 1, 2011. Thank God for the change!!!!
Thank God for individuals like Judge Wooten!!!!!
Nice job insulting the father of a developmentally disabled child. Twice. You are a man of class and standards, Mr. Key.
To John, the author of this piece: You referred to the State's document "Notice of State's intent to introduce extraneous, unadjudicated offenses and punishment evidence". Could you post that document like you did the State's response document? It's a real eye opener, it gives you a real feel for the defendents. And it lists the "unlawful act" Ms. Wooten commited with our filthy mouthed bully Mr. Key.
Count One was originally was originally just - Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity - Bribery. It is now Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity - Bribery, Money Laundering and Tampering with a Government Document. Counts 2 thru 7 are the same Bribery Charges, but Count 8 is new, Money Laundering. Those 8 counts are for all of the defendents, Ms. Wooten gets a 9th count, Tampering with a governmental record.
And then there is the "Notice of State's Intent..." document listed in this article and my previous post. LOTS of new stuff there - that's a FACT.
This case, as all cases, is developing as time goes on. More evidence, more witnesses, more crimes uncovered. Ms. Wooten publicly has her minions - Hey Mr. Key! - scream loudly that she desperately wants a speedy trial, but the evidence shows that isn't the truth, her and her legal team are delaying at every possible opportunity. This is a serious case and the crimes committed have devastated lives of innocent people. Unfortunately they have to wait until trial to tell their story because they follow the law and abide by the gag order. Horrific deeds were done to innocent people for money and power and politics, the evidence will show exactly how and justice will be done. And then the civil cases can be filed, and everyone will be held completely accountable.
How do you know that "Offended" is a father and not a mother? Probably because you and he are one and the same, and I doubt you're even the parent of a mentally retarded child. Even if you are, it's an expression. Get over it.
Yes, "money laundering." They're big new move is to now accuse her of not reporting the money they accused she took as a bribe. You've got to prove that she took a bribe first. See? It's all the same nonsense. It's like taking beans, meat and cheese and putting in folded corn tortilla and calling it "taco," and then taking the same thing and putting on a flat corn tortilla and Voila! you have a chalupa. It's the same thing if you ask me, just as all of these charges. I'm sure your Mexican alter ego "Ofendido" will be outraged by this example.
Harry wants everyone to think that he came up with some new evidence all of the sudden, days before the trial began, when really it's just the same re-hashed BS.
"No, señor! We could not possibly prepare the banquet now. We thought you wanted tacos, and now we understand it's supposed to be chalupas! Where will we get the ingredients??!!
That makes as much sense as trying to pretend that some new revelation has resulted in these new charges.
Nice try, Peludo Blanco.
("Peludo" is "hairy" in Spanish. Get it?)
"This is a serious case and the crimes committed have devastated lives of innocent people . . . Horrific deeds were done to innocent people for money and power and politics, the evidence will show exactly how and justice will be done."
Texann, please, tell us the names of the people with devastated lives. How were their lives devastated? What horrific deeds were done to whom for money and power?
You're a sorry liar.
“Special Relationship” is a joke. Judge Wooten has a lot of friends, who know that she, like many others, became one of DA Roach’s targets. She didn’t give in to the bullies and neither did several others. They are the victims and will be the ultimate heroes. DA Roach, Milner, and anyone who aided are the bad guys in this story.
Greg Willis is the best thing that has happened to this County in a while. DA Roach has embarrassed the entire County in order to satisfy his ego. It is time to change the name of the Juvenile Justice Center and eliminate the use of his name. It is time to put all this behind us. It is time to stand up and make sure we put people with good hearts in our positions of power. It is time for people, who know the truth even if it is hidden behind self-interest, to be courageous and stand up. It is amazing that all this has happened and we still have so many that can’t see the truth. Unbelievable!
I am disappointed that this blog is now the host to someone who has a clear agenda and who is more than happy to post something that is nothing but rumor, innuendo and speculation.
I hate that this case has been tried in the media through speculative “news” posts and comments.
I have no inside knowledge of this case.
I believe in our justice system-when all parties are represented by competent ethical counsel and when the judge is truly impartial.
This Judge has done everything in his power to prevent this case from being tried in the media. Unfortunately it appears that the prosecution is not on board with that idea. In preliminary hearings and convenient public filings they have managed to shape this case thanks to receptive media persons.
The defense has also learned the hard way that the only way to fight back is to follow their lead. It is almost impossible to sit on the sidelines and watch your client being covered with dirt by unethical prosecutors, or others who have a vested interest in the outcome of this case and not try to respond in the only ethical way possible.
I have seen nothing but smoke and mirrors when it comes to the guilt of these people. Why, if the State has a solid case is it necessary to continue to try it in the media?
I have been a lawyer who practices Criminal Law for 33 years. I have been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. I began my career in Tarrant County under Mr. Tim Curry. He did not believe in using the media as a prosecution tool. I started out with a boss who understood the trust of those who put him in office was one of his most valuable assets. There is a reason he was one of the few District Attorneys in this State who was never defeated. He did not abuse his power-he certainly was not perfect and he made mistakes – but that was one of his strengths. He was imperfect but never arrogant or condescending. (As many who have known me over the years will understand, time has certainly mellowed my opinion of Mr. Curry. I suspect that is because I have had much more experience with those who abuse their office.)
It saddens me that all of the prosecutions begun by the previous District Attorney involving public officials seem to be plagued by such ugliness. I can only hope that when trial comes, the citizens accused will be able to obtain a jury made up of open minded, fair people who have not been tainted by the ugliness represented in the media reports of these cases and the comments which they have generated.
Give it up. You're not fooling anyone around here.
The Collin County Observer amused:
"This really is a bad article. A poor attempt at sensationalist muckraking. Boo."
It's a fact White wants to talk to DA Willis' wife. To point that out is "muckraking?" I believe my analysis of DA Willis' motion is correct. I also believe it is likely Judge Russell will grant his motion and in the same breath reappoint Harry White and Brian Chandler as attorneys pro tem. We will know for sure on the 23rd of Sep.
You wrote an un-called for attack. White and Chandler won't be elected, and whoever gets appointed won't have ties to anybody presently or formerly under investigation and/or indictment.
What Willis is doing is a step in the right direction, and for you to deem otherwise is nonsense.
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