DMN – Editorial: Courthouse circus in Collin County

Dallas Morning News Editorial:

Courthouse circus in Collin County

Published 28 October 2010 04:39 AM
However the mess in Collin County’s courthouse is unraveled, it’s fortunate that the man in the middle – DA John Roach – will be out of office by then.

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.

Comments, Pingbacks:

Comment from: Squanderville Resident [Visitor]
Clearly, Law & Order have left the
Collin County Court House!
PermalinkPermalink10/29/10 @ 07:16
Comment from: Pamela J. Lakatos [Visitor] Email
Thank you for posting this. I rarely have the time or inclination to read what newspaper boards feel important enough to memorialize as an editorial.While I do not pretend to know what the truth is, I suspect it has as much to do with the abusive exercise of power and the seductive effect of getting even as it has to do with justice.

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.

PermalinkPermalink10/29/10 @ 22:04
Comment from: DALLAS ATTORNEY [Visitor]
WORLD’S BIGGEST SCAM… just goes to prove that no one in COLLIN COUNTY is working very hard…and did NOT need a new MEGA courhouse….How else can so many employeess take so much time off UNLESS their workload was light…MANY people should be going to jail in COLLIN COUNTY …IN ANY OTHER TEXAS COUNTY ….investigations and prosecutions would follow..for much less than this MESS.
PermalinkPermalink10/30/10 @ 08:55
Comment from: Chuck Bloom [Visitor] Email
An editorial written by people who work and live in Dallas and hardly know the “ins” and “outs” of what’s REALLY happening in Collin County; based on stories written by staffers who only investigate the top layers of a large onion. There’s SO much more to what’s happening than anyone knows or wishes to investigate.
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?
PermalinkPermalink10/30/10 @ 14:08
Comment from: Squanderville Resident [Visitor]
Collin County has become the laughing stock of the State of Texas!
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!!
PermalinkPermalink10/31/10 @ 14:12
Comment from: Stepping Out on a weak limb [Visitor] Email
THANK YOU, JUDGE ROACH for making me regret EVER voting for you. We hope was a faux pax.. you need to go… WE’RE DONE HON, STICK A FORK IT IN! You are a horrible, terrible man and your son is too!
PermalinkPermalink11/01/10 @ 01:02
Comment from: Jen Haughton [Visitor] Email
“Hon” “Stick a fork in it” these are the immature statements you choose to make when commenting on such a serious subject. It sounds to me that you have very little to add except a spew of hate. I’ll pray for you.
PermalinkPermalink11/01/10 @ 06:22
Comment from: Squanderville Resident [Visitor] Email
So is Roach headed for New Mexico with the rest of the “Tribe”?
Sold the Windy Meadow Rancy, must be headed for the 4 corners!
PermalinkPermalink11/01/10 @ 15:28

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