Dallas Morning News Editorial:
Courthouse circus in Collin County
Roach has cultivated a reputation as a button-down, no-nonsense district attorney, but some kind of political nonsense is stinking up the courthouse. Outside prosecutors may end up in charge of two contentious cases – one against a sitting judge, the other against supervisors in the district clerk’s office. So far, so good.
Even better, because Roach is not on the ballot for a third term, and a successor will be in office if more dominoes fall in the criminal cases. A new DA might help restore public confidence that countyprosecutors don’t mix politics into law enforcement. And should charges be sustained against District Judge Suzanne Wooten or the clerk supervisors, the outcome might be cleansed of the suspicion of ill motive – if that’s possible at this stage.
Witness the standing ovation Wooten got from defense attorneys in her courtroom after her recent indictment on bribery charges. Some have accused Roach of a witch hunt, harassment and foot-dragging in his yearlong investigation of his fellow Republican. It was inappropriate that Roach dismissed members of the defense bar who “whine and cry” at hard-ball law enforcement.
A tough DA is one thing; one who antagonizes critics fritters away respect.
Wooten, who is currently suspended with pay, gained her judgeship two years ago after an expensive campaign to unseat longtime GOP incumbent Charles Sandoval. Charges allege a conspiracy and quid pro quo involving campaign money from a couple with a grudge against Sandoval because of rulings in their child-custody case.
The attorney general’s office is now handling the Wooten case. Putting the facts before a jury is overdue.
In the case against the clerk’s supervisors, the latest development oozes with embarrassment for the DA. Indictments won by prosecutors in August allege a conspiracy in the clerk’s office to fake time cards so employees could do campaign work on county time.
Prosecutors disclosed this week that Roach’s office has been doing its own fudging of personnel records to give employees phantom days off as rewards for good work. The admission opens up the DA to charges of hypocrisy that are hard to counter.
At stake is the political career of Chief Deputy District Clerk Patricia Crigger, another Republican. She won her primary campaign for the district clerk’s job in March and has no Democratic opponent in next week’s election.
Roach’s office has asked for an outside prosecutor to take over the cases against Crigger and five others. As if he had any choice.
The citizens of Collin County deserve a courthouse minus the circus atmosphere. It appears that the job of erasing that image will fall to newcomers.
Collin County Court House!
No matter what the truth, damage has been done to all involved. Our county has been made the brunt of jokes, our elected officials have been adversely affected, no matter how innocent they might be, and the tax payers have been played.
There is much to be said for a new start. Let’s hope that our future will be bright, not because of who may or may not win in this election, but because of the caliber of the people we allow to ascend to the most important offices we have the privilege to elect.
Knowledge is power and power exercised intelligently is a gift we give to our children.
The sentiments might be correct but the truth and full disclosure of facts will never be known. Just remember, this is the same group of people who produced a puff piece on John Roach and what a great job he did during his term as DA …
Knowing what we do about the last TWO district attorneys, how can ANYONE living in Collin County trust a single thing that has happened in the courthouse? And what makes anyone believe it will change come Tuesday?
Dallas Attorney you are so right, we did not need nor could we afford that Mega Courthouse. Example of County Commissioners gone wild! They had visions of land deals gone wild. But you can bet they made a bundle for themselves on the side.
The taxpayer will never get it paid off, & that is the reason CC has no Public Health Care.
The Commissioners squandered the money away. Just ask them!!
Sold the Windy Meadow Rancy, must be headed for the 4 corners!