The Wilco Watchdog
Watching Over Williamson County For You
KXAN Lead Investigative Reporter Chris Willis just released a scathing report on the hiring process of Williamson County Pct 3 Constable position recently filled by controversial pick Kevin Stofel. We closed our last story saying, "one thing for certain, this is just the beginning. Monday’s decision in appointing a man with more baggage than an American Airlines curb check will indeed mark the day that will haunt this court; just as the decision haunted those who appointed Jim Wilson in 2003." It looks like we were right.
Interview questions spark criticism, possible legal action
Williamson County officials say queries justified
GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) - When applying for work, jobseekers generally aren't aren’t asked about their political, religious, or moral beliefs.
In most cases employers know they can’t ask those sorts of questions under the U.S. Constitution and equal employment opportunity rules. But Williamson County commissioners don’t believe those rules applied when they appointed a new constable.
After Williamson County Precinct 3 Constable Bobby Gutierrez retired, commissioners had to appoint a new constable. They interviewed five candidates. And the questions they asked those candidates during the interviews raised eyebrows.
“Was I for gay marriage or against gay marriage?” former candidate Robert Lloyd said he was asked. “The next question was, what was my thoughts on abortion? Was I pro-life or pro-choice?”
“I knew the question was coming about church because in the realm of the questions that were being asked,” Lloyd continued.
As we all opened our Sunday paper this morning, a few were surprised to see that former District Attorney John Bradley decided he would once again opine on matter he is all too familiar with; ethics. But the problem with the disgraced DA, according to the majority of Williamson County voters and other attorneys around the state, his name is synonymous with ethics not fit for a District Attorney, much less someone who should be lecturing others on the topic.
The issue we have here is John still believes that others still respect his opinion. What he doesn't understand, they don't. One comment from the article this morning reads: "John Bradley as a resource on the problem(s) of perception. That's like putting Hitler on the Human Rights Commission." This sentiment seems to be shared by the majority. Sadly, and embarrassingly so for John, he doesn't get it.
He continually lectures prosecutors on the TDCAA blog about the law and other issues. He gives quotes to newspapers as if his opinion carries any credence. Some call this narcissism, others call it arrogance. We sum it up as "pride goeth before the fall and John has yet to begin his long journey downward". But he obviously has learned far more from his mentor about arrogance and defiance than first suspected.
It has been rumored he is seeking an appointment to a District Judge bench in Williamson County. Others have said he is waiting to run for DA again in four years because according to him, his loss was "a fluke". Either way, his complete lack of reality is puzzling. His attitude toward "ethics" and "integrity" shows in his actions. When he was called before the court of inquiry in February, his testimony was in complete contradiction to a lengthy interview he conducted with the Texas Tribune in November 2011. Of course he was in campaign mode in 2011. His attitude towards Michael Morton also shifted from his campaign persona of "I am sorry" to "I was forced by Barry Scheck to cooperate" during the inquiry.
Perhaps John could give his mentor a call and preach to him about integrity and "doing the right thing" since he feels it necessary to preach to others about their actions. We aren't sure if John knows this, but he lost the election. The public sent him packing because of his actions; not because of what others did, but because of his ethics and integrity, or should we say lack thereof.
Williamson County has gone through much drama and embarrassing headlines at the state and national level over the past three years. Two of those headlines, a former DA now District Judge wrongfully imprisoning a man for 25 years and a District Attorney keeping the wrongfully accused man in prison by refusing to test evidence for DNA.
It's time to heal. It's time to move on and the voters of this county voted for just that. With that said, John should take these words to heart; "John don't go away mad, just go away".
Judge Ken Andersons Mugshot
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
Friday April, 19, 2013 was a day many thought would never arrive and many were shocked at the outcome. Judge Sturns wasted no time issuing felony warrants for the arrest of Ken Anderson.
Sturns was very blunt when he stated “This court cannot think of a more intentionally harmful act than a prosecutor’s conscious choice to hide mitigating evidence so as to create an uneven playing field for a defendant facing a murder charge and a life sentence.".
"Mr. Anderson consciously chose to impair the availability of the exculpatory evidence so he could obtain the conviction of Mr. Morton for murder," Sturns said.
Sturns found probable cause existed and issued two felony warrants for tampering with physical evidence, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison; for concealing documents to impair their availability as evidence; and for tampering with a government record and one show cause order for contempt of court.
DA Jana Duty issued a statement saying she is asking AG Greg Abbot to "step in as Pro Tem" to handle the case against Anderson since "a third of the cases filed in Williamson County are filed in his court". Duty also stated she has three Assistant District Attorney's assigned to his court creating a conflict of interest.
It appears two of the three charges will most likey be dismissed based on the statute of limitations running in the case, but being there is no statue of limitations on contempt, that will likely move forward.
None of this however means Anderson will be removed from the bench, nor does he have to step down; for now. Refusing to recuse himself from the bench until this mater is resolved will no doubt create issues in the courtroom. One defense attorney state "How can he sit in judgement of other when he himself is being judged". The attorney went on to say many defense attorneys do not want their cases heard before Anderson and will file "appropriate motions" if he refuses to step down or recuse himself until the criminal charges are resolved.
Anderson was booked on a "walk through" an released on a $2,500.00 bond for each charge. We will have more updates as they become available.
This Friday should be an interesting day at the Wilco Courthouse. The question of the year is will Judge Sturns find District Judge Ken Anderson guilty of tampering with evidence or perhaps contempt of court? No one knows, but one thing is sure, Anderson maintains a stance that the statute of limitations has ran on any possible criminal violation.
Anderson has piled up some hefty personal legal bills and the court of inquiry itself has racked up a price tag the tax payers of Williamson County are responsible for. That price tag at this point is unknown, but you can bet it will be seven figures once it's all said and done.
Then you have Anderson's personal defense tab which is estimated to be nearing, if not over 250 thousand dollars. Let's say he is cleared of any wrongdoing or perhaps is found to have violated the law but the statute has ran; will he use the "Gattis excuse" to dump his legal fees on the tax payer too? The Commissioners Court set that precedence in 2010 when they paid Gattis' legal tab after a removal suit filed against Gattis was dismissed, not on merits of the case, but on a technicality called the forgiveness doctrine. Even though it was never proven Gattis did not commit the acts alleged in the suit, the commissioners court voted unanimously to pay his legal bills, so we're left to wonder if Anderson will pull the same stunt if he too escapes prosecution on a "technicality" as did Gattis.
We will see how things shake out on Friday for Anderson, but you can bet this fiasco is far from over for the tax payers of Williamson County.
John Raley John Bradley
John Raley had no idea what was in store when he began a legal chess match in 2005; a chess match that involved another man’s life and freedom. An innocent man who sat in prison whose only hope rested on Raley’s shoulders. After accepting the Innocence Project's request to take this, his first criminal case, pro bono, Raley sat down to the table and looked across at his opponents. He knew he was in for a fight. Peering into the eyes of then District Attorney John Bradley, surrounded by his team of loyal cohorts, Raley, not intimidated, said “game on”.
We have described this battle as many things, but the Battle of the Johns is best styled as a chess match. Both sides made calculated moves in order to “outsmart” their opponent. But what John Bradley didn’t bargain for was a civil attorney from Houston Texas outwitting him in a criminal law world.
John Raley once said he had no friends in Williamson County from 2005 until September 2011 and at times felt a bit “worried” while driving through the county. But he didn’t let that stop him. As everyone knows, for years, John Bradley fought critical DNA testing of evidence that would ultimately connect to the real killer of Christine Morton and led to the release of Michael Morton.
Even though Raley faced many setbacks, he plowed on. Then one day, after years of fighting, he won a round that allowed DNA testing of a critical piece of evidence. The testing revealed DNA of not Michael Morton, but another man. That man, Mark Norwood, would later be tried and convicted for killing Christine Morton.
Even when the DNA hit came back, that didn’t stop John Bradley from maintaining his stance of discrediting the evidence, offering up any excuse he could to downplay the hit. Finally, after the Raley-sponsored finding of Norwood's DNA at the subsequent murder scene of Debra Jan Baker, Bradley having no room left to wiggle relented. Bradley agreed to release Morton from prison and allow an investigation into the actions of former DA and now District Judge Ken Anderson while the mandate was pending in the court of appeals. Shortly after making that agreement, he tried to short- circuit it by moving to expedite the mandate, but Raley counter-moved and the investigation went forward.
Bradley, who was up for re-election, went on a strange, semi-apology tour regarding the Morton case. Although Bradley would never come out and say he made a mistake by fighting DNA testing, he did apologize, somewhat, saying he regretted the time it took to get the evidence tested. Many believed the weak apologies were nothing more than an attempt to deflect negative press away from him during his campaign. Some bought into Bradley’s “transformation”, but many did not.
Close to the end of the campaign, John Raley wrote an open letter which was published by many media outlets detailing the “rest of the story” behind the Morton case and DNA testing. Many believe this letter was the knockout punch for Bradley’s re-election bid.
In February 2013, long after the dust settled, the election decided and a new DA in office, the trial of Ken Anderson began, Anderson faced a court of inquiry for his questionable actions as DA during the Morton trial. Bradley took the stand and did a 180 from his previous “campaign” stance. He was his usual arrogant, unapologetic self. Virtually everything Bradley testified to during the court of inquiry contradicted his own words from a 2011 interview with Brandi Grissom of the Texas Tribune.
Grissom, who was in the courtroom, posted on her live blog “As we're listening to Bradley's testimony, I thought it might be interesting to see how it compares to what he told me about the Morton case during a three-hour interview last November. Here's a link to the story and the transcript of the interview”. She obviously knew things weren’t jiving with Bradley’s testimony.
In 2011, attorney John Raley reduced Bradley, who was at that time the most powerful District Attorney in the state, to mere mortal status and exposed him for what he truly was. Fast forward to the court of inquiry - Bradley is now unemployed and back to his old, "pre Morton release" ways and attitude. It seems the "changed man" interview and that "road to Damascus moment" Grits once wrote about took a sharp exit to Bradleyland.
When Rusty Harding closed out his questioning of Bradley, Hardin asked Bradley some final questions. Bradley kept saying “I can't remember". Hardin implied Bradley was not being truthful and Bradley challenged him: "Are you calling me a liar"? Hardin looked Bradley in the eyes, smiled, and calmly said "no more questions". Everyone in the room knew what he meant. Hardin may not have verbally answered Bradley's question, but he didn't have to. Bradley's own words on the stand during the hearing in comparison with the 2011 Texas Tribune interview answered the question fully. The chess match that began in 2005 was over.
The Watchdog began its “Battle of the Johns” chronicle in September 2011. John Bradley mustered only one point during this battle and that point was a gracious one, only scored because of a “friendly” referee who sided with Bradley during Bradley's recusal hearing. Raley, on the other hand, a 6’3’’, 250 pound former offensive lineman racked up 30 points.
John Raley 30 - John Bradley 1
On February 7, 2013 John Raley looked across at John Bradley and as professionally as the day he began the match announced “Checkmate”. Delivering checkmate is the ultimate goal in chess. A player who is checkmated loses the game. In chess, the king is never actually captured; the game ends as soon as the king is checkmated because checkmate leaves the defending player with no legal moves, just as John Raley left John Bradley. Although Raley, in reality, had checkmate in October 2011, Bradley kept up his effort, even though he had no more “legal” moves, but it was only a matter of time before he was forced to walk away from the game.
Raley's efforts not only led to the exoneration of an innocent man, Michael Morton, but the arrest and conviction of the man who murdered his wife. Through the efforts of Raley and his office, as well as the Innocence Project, the same man has been indicted for the murder of Debra Baker as well. Bradley did everything he could to prevent this brutal murderer from being brought to justice, but he failed.
John Raley, a civil attorney from Houston, Texas dismantled and defeated John Bradley, a man many revered as a prosecutorial “king” and once thought to be the most powerful District Attorney in the State of Texas. John Raley, a civil attorney from Houston, Texas, is the undisputed victor in the “Battle of the Johns”.
On Monday, embattled ex-Georgetown Police officer Kevin Stofle was appointed Pct 3 Constable by the Williamson County Commissioners Court. The county began its positive spin on the controversial pick with a press release that in part stated, “Most recently, he served as the assistance chief of police with the City of Georgetown”. That is false. Most recently he served as a Captain after being demoted from Assistant Chief. Prior to that, while Stofle was Assistant Chief, the City Council refused to appoint Stofle as the interim Chief.
Oddly, given Stofle’s overwhelming amount of baggage, the County Judge and Commissioners unanimously appointed him to the post. Many have speculated the "brother-in-law appointment" was cut when Stofle ended up as the bridesmaid in the JP 3 appointment last month.
Hours after the “appointment”, Stofle had candidates lining up to run against him for the March 2014 Republican primary. This will ultimately cause heartburn for the commissioners court because they have a vested interest in seeing their “chosen” candidate scores a win in March 2014. It should be another contentious race that may rival the 2003 controversial appointment of Jim Wilson. It is said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results. Apparently this Court did not learn from the previous courts poor appointment decision in 2003.
One candidate was asked if he was running for Constable in 2014. He said “of course I am running, and I will win the position based on my credentials", not on a "good ole boy appointment”. He went on to say that Stofle “owes” the Commissioners Court for their appointment. He stated he was not “beholden to anyone” and would “serve the people, not five people on the commissioners court”. Another candidate who has publically committed to run is Barry Simmons. Simmons ran against former Constable Bobby Gutierrez last May. Simmons did not get an interview from the court on Monday.
A consultant conducting “op-research” on Stofle said “Stofle is like Christmas to a guy in my profession. His opponents are going to have a field day with him”. This person went on to say "Given the amount of dirt on Stofle, the commissioners court either has a very lax background standard, or more probable, already had their minds made up hoping all of those skeletons would remain in his closet."
One thing for certain, this is just the beginning. Monday’s decision in appointing a man with more baggage than an American Airlines curb check will indeed mark the day that will haunt this court; just as the decision haunted those who appointed Jim Wilson in 2003.
According to a press release, the Williamson County Commissioners appointed Bill Gravell as the new Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace. Gravell will take over for Steve Benton who retires at the end of this month.
COMMISSIONERS COURT APPOINTS BILL GRAVELL AS
PRECINCT 3 JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Steve Benton to Retire Feb. 28
February 22, 2013 (Williamson County, TX) – The Williamson County Commissioners Court voted today to appoint Bill Gravell Jr. as Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace effective March 1, 2013. Judge Steve Benton is retiring effective February 28, 2013. His term ends December 31, 2014. Judge Benton has been the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace for more than 13 years, serving since he was appointed in January 2000 after Judge Jim Bitz retired.
Bill Gravell Jr. is currently a court administrator for the 425th District Court in Williamson County. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies from Mary-Hardin Baylor University. Previously, he was pastor for Sonterra Fellowship church in Jarrell, Texas. He has served on the Sonterra MUD Board of Directors as President of the Board and as a commissioner for Emergency Services District #5.
Less than two weeks after Steve Benton submitted his letter of resignation, Pct 3 Constable Bobby Gutierrez has also decided to call it quits.
Gutierrez who has been plagued with high turnover and internal issues has announced he is moving on with no explanation other than "better employment opportunities".
Gutierrez barely survived a primary challenge last May, only winning by 348 votes in Pct 3 where over 11,000 ballots were cast.
The Commissioners Court will once again be tasked with filling the vacancy. State law dictates the court will appoint an interim and then a special election will be held March 2014. The winner must then again run for re-election in March 2016.
We will keep you up to date when more details become available.
Did Kevin Stofle attempt to cover for his neighbor in 2006 when he was Assistant Chief? We ask this question with facts surfacing that Stofle was called by his neighbor one night after a party he was throwing at Dales Essenhaus resulted in that neighbor crashing her vehicle. The driver had her 7 year old child in the car at the time of the crash. The trooper who investigated the crash indicated signs of intoxication of the driver so why did Stofle do what he did? Why did he call a wrecker? Why did he give the driver a ride home. Why did he not call the police.
On February 26, 2006, a DPS Trooper investigated a one vehicle crash at 3710 FM 972 in Walburg, Williamson County, Texas. Through investigation, the trooper learned that the driver, with a 7 year old passenger, left a birthday party at Dale's Essenhaus Restaurant, operating a gray 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe, westbound on FM 972 when she drove off the left side of the roadway, hit a culvert, a tree, and embankment. The vehicle sustained damage to the extent that it could not be normally driven. The driver called Assistant Police Chief Kevin Stofel for assistance. Stofle responded to the scene, called for a wrecker, and removed the driver and passenger from the scene. Stofle transported the driver to her residence, failing to notify law enforcement of the crash. The trooper later contacted the driver at her residence and noticed signs of intoxication. The trooper administered HGN observing six clues and vertical nystagmus. A witness later informed the trooper that she had observed the driver operating the Chevrolet.
The drivers mother informed the Trooper that the driver was attending a surprise birthday party that the drivers neighbor, Kevin, was throwing for his wife at Dale's Essenhaus in Walburg. The drivers mother informed the Trooper that "Kevin" works for the Georgetown Police Department or is an officer or he has something to do with the Georgetown Police Department.
Below is a very small excerpt from the accident report the Wilco Watchdog was provided.
TROOPER: “The driver had stepped outside of the front door and stood. Within a few seconds of being in her presence I could smell the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from her breath. Her balance appeared steady. Her eyes were bloodshot and glassy.”
TROOPER: "And is that who you called to come and pick you up?" (referring to Stofle)
Driver: "Yes ma'am."
TROOPER: "Okay." "How long was it before he was able to show up?"
Driver: "Within, like, 4, 5 to 10 minutes."
TROOPER: "Where was the party at?"
Driver: "Uhh, at Dale's."
TROOPER: "At the restaurant?"
Driver: "Yes ma'am."
TROOPER: "My guess is what happened is he knew you'd been drinking, you know you've been drinking so you didn't want to make the report.
We will have a complete story with much more very soon. And a twist in this story you will not want to miss that involves Ex DA John Bradley.
There’s an old saying that goes “What is the difference between God and a District Judge? God knows he’s not a District Judge”.
Judging by Ken Anderson’s attitude today, he obviously subscribes to that mindset.
At one point Anderson said "I wish I had not been a very good prosecutor"
The following exchange is very telling. It seems that Anderson is saying the definition of a "good prosecutor" is one who wins at all costs and will employ whatever tactics are necessary. One who has to have an edge to win and that edge would not be showing the entire file to the defense. One who without that edge would get the “heck beat out of them”.
"I probably wouldn’t be a good prosecutor anymore because I'm going to be handing you everything," Anderson says.
"Why wouldn't that make you a hell of a prosecutor," Hardin asks.
"I would probably hand you everything, and you would probably beat the heck out me and some guilty guy would probably go free," Anderson says.
At one point, Hardin gets so far in Anderson’s kitchen, Anderson begins yelling. "That’s why we have a statute of limitations, and in this case that expired 20 however many years ago, 23 years ago." Hardin asks "What question were you answering just?"
"Oh, I was just making stuff up," Anderson said, sarcastically.
At 11:39am this exchange occurred that raised some red flags about Anderson’s truthfulness:
Anderson says that despite his lawyer's admonition to do so, he has not read the entire transcript of the Morton trial. He says he read portions as they became relevant.
But then there was this exchange at 8:41am. Nichols asks Anderson if Judge William Lott ordered him to produce the complete offense reports and field notes of Sgt. Don Wood.
"I have gone through that record 'til I'm blue in the face," he said. "There is nothing in the record that even remotely says that."
So which is it?
Then Anderson goes into a “poor me” tirade looking for sympathy.
Anderson and Hardin have an exchange about the appropriateness of the court of inquiry. Anderson indicates he is displeased with the process.
"Let's assume this is the last court of inquiry in the state of Texas," Hardin said.
Anderson interjected: "That would be a blessed day."
He went on to lament how much money he's had to spend defending himself.
"I had to spend the money to hire lawyers. And I worked my entire life, and now they have it," he said.
It’s apparent John Bradley learned well from his mentor. Carefully parsed statements and a lack of memory at opportune times show these two are indeed cut from the same cloth. Neither seems to have one ounce of personal accountability when it comes to the Morton case. Both make excuses and fail to accept responsibility. This is why one is no longer the DA, out of public office for the remainder of his life and unemployed, while the other is not far behind on the same path.
It’s a matter of time before Ken Anderson either does the right thing and resigns, which will take acceptance and responsibility, something Anderson is not showing, or the citizens of Williamson County will show him the door like they did his student John Bradley. You can rest assured knowing the latter will come if he does not choose the first.
12:55 p.m. by Brandi Grissom
Hardin asks Anderson if he can recall testimony from earlier in the week. Anderson says he cannot.
“I don’t think you have any idea how much stress I’ve been under this week,” he says. "I've had to deal with my family. I have had to put people back together again. This has not been a stress free week for me.”
Hardin goes on to ask whether Anderson was aware of the transcript and whether it should have been produced.
"I cant imagine I didn’t tell them about Eric seeing a monster and it wasn’t his father in some form or fashion," he said. "We would have been talking about such things."
12:46 p.m. by Brandi Grissom
Hardin brings up the Kirkpatrick transcript in which Eric details having seen his mother murdered. Anderson says he doesn't have an independent recollection of having seen it at the time of the trial.
"You have been a lawyer how long? You would forget something like this? That you have evidence of a man you're trying for murder, that his son, 3 and a half year old son, is telling his grandmother daddy isn’t there and describes all these circumstances of his mother being murdered and you would forget that?" Hardin asks incredulously.
"I don’t have any independent recollection of any of these details from 26 years ago," Anderson says.
Hardin points out that Sgt. Wood in his deposition recalled that information even though he is over 70 and has had several strokes.
"Even Mr. wood does. How could you not?" Hardin asks. "How could a former prosecutor who cares so deeply about children not rember anything about a child seeing his mother killed in a case that he prosecuted. How could that be? Help me out?"
Even if he had seen it, Anderson says he might have regarded the transcript as the words of a "traumatized" little boy.
"He was a traumatized 3-year-old child. You can't attach any significance to anything he says at that point," Anderson says.
But, Hardin points out that all the details Eric described - the wood used in the murder, the blue suitcase, the basket - all were accurate details from the crime scene.
"Why in the world wouldn’t you want to try to investigate based on what this little boy said?" Hardin asked.
"You’d have to ask Sheriff Boutwell about that," he said.
Virtually everything Bradley testified to today contradicts his own words from the 2011 interview. Then again, Bradley knew then he was in trouble, running for re-election, and was doing what he could to salvage his political career.
In 2011, attorney John Raley reduced Bradley, who was at one time the most powerful District Attorney in the state to mere mortal status and showed him for what he was truly about. Fast forward eight months, Bradley is unemployed and back to his old, "pre Morton release" ways and attitude. It seems the "changed man" interview and that "road to Damascus moment" Grits once wrote about took a sharp exit to Bradleyland.
Grissom stated during her live blogging “As we're listening to Bradley's testimony, I thought it might be interesting to see how it compares to what he told me about the Morton case during a three-hour interview last November. Here's a link to the story and the transcript of the interview”. She obviously knew things weren’t jiving with Bradley’s testimony. Below are a few excerpts from Grissom’s live blog and her 2011 interview with Bradley.
During Bradley’s testimony, one of the items in the affidavit that Bradley said he objected to was a portion that indicated he relied on Anderson in making decisions about responding to post-conviction litigation in Morton's case.
"It's sort of implying that I was a puppet and this other person was feeding me lies," Bradley said.
"Has anybody ever accused you of being puppet," Hardin asked.
"They have not," Bradley said. "I'm not concerned about people's opinion of me.”
Enter John Bradley November 2011. One of the days when I was walking into one of the commission meetings and they had the usual protesters out front and one of the people was holding a poster. All I could see from a distance as I was walking up was it said, ‘John Bradley is a tool.’ I thought, ‘Wow that’s not very creative.’ Then I walked up and in small letters at the bottom it said ‘of Rick Perry.’ I laughed the hardest. I seriously wanted to take out my iPhone and ask her if I could take a picture.
Bradley, under questioning from Nichols, says he has more closely reviewed the record in this case since he signed an affidavit indicating he believed Judge Lott ordered Anderson to turn over investigative files. He said the affidavit was prepared by Barry Scheck, of the Innocence Project. "They were Mr. Scheck's word choices," he said, adding, "They were more or less my feelings at time."
Bradley said "I didn’t have a lot of control over this, It was going to be his statement not mine."
John Bradley Nov 2011 interview - “And I think that Barry Scheck and I ultimately reached a very unique written agreement whereby we would have depositions, brief him on what we knew and allow all of that to be collected in a report and presented. I’m very comfortable that we did that fairly and it’ll be at least good, strong factual information for everyone to look at. And I think if you talk to him he would repeat that. I think he would say that he felt like I was open and honest and fair with him. That’s about all I can aim for.”
Nichols asks Bradley about his impression of Anderson after working with him for decades.
"Mr. Anderson had very high ethical standards," Bradley said, adding that his former boss tried to integrate his Christian beliefs into his work. "The decisions I saw him make were always highly ethical."
Nichols then asks about Judge Lott, and Bradley described him as "meticulous," keeping detailed notes that he would refer to and use to correct lawyers during court proceedings.
"He was very precise on the law in his orders," Bradley said.
That is why, Bradley explained, he changed his opinion about what Lott had ordered and what Anderson was required to turn over in the Morton case after reading the judge's notes and comparing them to the record. And he now believes Anderson's contention that Lott only ordered the prosecutor to turn over statements that Morton made the day of his wife's murder.
TT: In the court filing where the Innocence Project asked you to recuse yourself, they seemed to be under the impression that you knew that there was information that hadn’t been turned over in the Michael Morton case.
JB: Yes, I think that clearly was their initial impression. I think that they would agree that I corrected that misimpression. I have very honestly and carefully shown them that we learned about the concerns they had literally at the same time they did when that sealed file was unsealed.
TT: What was your reaction to that?
JB: Initially, shock and then sadness, because I fully expected that that sealed file would contradict some pretty strong accusations. And based upon what I knew about the record from reading the deal, it certainly looked like that was going to have all of the material that they would have wanted to look at. It didn’t and that raised an enormous new question that Barry and I have been working to address, and I think that they would agree. I had a long conversation with Barry this week and he reassured me on all of that, that he is comfortable that the modern office, the current office, was not involved in anything and has been cooperative in helping them figure out what happened.
The dialog between Rusty Hardin and Bradley became very heated and Hardin said “you are not the district attorney, you are a witness, reminding Bradley that he lost his election last year, in a campaign that focused on his role in opposing Morton's DNA testing. Bradley’s testimony was described by many in attendance as a “CYA” operation. One person stated “its obvious Bradley is covering for Anderson”.
One thing for certain, Bradley learned well from his mentor. Bradley obviously has no memory from 2011 when he sat down with Grissom. When Hardin asked Bradley a final question, Bradley kept saying " I can't remember". Hardin implied Bradley was not being truthful and Bradley said "Are you calling me a liar"? Hardin ignored Bradley and said "no more questions". Hardin may not have answered Bradley's question, he didn't have to. Bradley's own words on the stand today and from 2011 answered it for him.
Today marks the second day of the court of inquiry. Brandi Grissom with the Texas Tribune has excellent blow by blow live blogging of the hearing. Click here to see her commentary. John Bradley is expected to testify on Thursday.
Also, a press release was sent out regarding Steve Benton retiring two years early.
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE STEVE BENTON TO RETIRE FEB. 28
February 5, 2013 (Williamson County, TX) – Williamson County Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Steve Benton today addressed the Commissioners Court and submitted a letter announcing his retirement effective February 28, 2013. Judge Benton has been the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace for more than 13 years. He was appointed by the Commissioners Court in January 2000 after Judge Jim Bitz retired. He has a total of 36 years in law enforcement including serving as a City of Georgetown police officer, Sheriff’s Office deputy and a Texas State trooper. Heis a graduate of Southwestern University with extensive law enforcement continuing education including TCLEOSE Master Peace Officer Certification.
“It has been the most fulfilling, hectic and busy job I have had in my life, and it has been worth it. But, it is time for me to go,” said Judge Benton.
The public is invited to attend Judge Benton’s retirement party on Thursday, February 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. in his courtroom at the Williamson County Inner Loop Annex, 301 S.E. Inner Loop, Georgetown.
The Commissioners Court will appoint a person to fulfill the remainder of his term which ends December 31, 2014. The County Judge’s Office will be accepting resumes for individuals interested in serving in this position. All applicants must be registered voters in Williamson County Precinct 3. All resumes must be received by the close of Commissioners Court on Tuesday, February 12, 2013. The Commissioners Court will conduct interviews with applicants prior to appointing an individual.
As we have reported, one candidate who has made it known he is interested in the job has some very concerning “baggage”. Demoted and now “retired” embattled candidate, Kevin Stofle, will have a tough road convincing a majority of the Commissioners Court, who are all Republicans, he is the guy for the job. For one, according to voting records, Stofle has never voted in a Republican primary. Not once. According to one high ranking Republican, this is very concerning. Other precient chairs have also expressed not only reservation but absolute refusal to support Stofle.
Stofle was also involved in a very serious incident that was never made public. This occurred during the era in which Stofle was Assistant Chief and the upper administration was embattled with controversy that lead to the ousting of former police chief Morgan and Stofle’s ultimate demotion. We will have more on this incident soon.
Another main driver is Stofle’s lack of credibility and ability to lead an office. He failed miserably as the Assistant Chief of Georgetown Police so why would the Williamson County Commissioners take that risk. He did not have the faith, support or standing of his own officers, so why would the Commissioners think he could lead an office as an elected official? Stofle could not secure an appointment as Interim Chief by the Georgetown City Council in 2009 due to the controversy surrounding him so why would the Commissioners appoint him as an elected official now?
In April of 2009, a survey was conducted by an outside organization in which Georgetown Police Officers indicated major internal issues occurring at the Georgetown Police Department driving morale in the toilet and creating a lack of faith in the agency by the community. This survey led to the termination of former Chief Morgan and played a role in Stofle not being appointed interim Chief.
The survey showed 84% of the officers "did not believe the administration, (including Stofle), supported employee input”. 74% “did not believe their opinions and suggestions were valued”. 81% did “not believe the Assistant Police Chief (Stofle) is open to new ideas”. 81% did “not believe the administration (including Stofle) has the ability to lead the department into the future.” The memo went on to say “The officers of the Georgetown Police Department have lost faith in our Chief and Assistant Chief of Police (Stofle).
We will have more on Stofle and other candidates soon.
Tomorrow opens the first day of the Court of Inquiry against Ken Anderson. Chuck Lindell has a comprehensive story in the Statesman today (click here to see the story).
It will be interesting to see what shakes out of a case that the statute of limitations expired long ago. Anderson knows this and his attorneys know it. No doubt Anderson will throw two people under the bus, possibly three. Jim Boutwell, William Lott and John Bradley should be dead in his aim. Two however won't be able to rebut what he says, not because they don’t want to, they can't....they're dead. He knows even if he is found to have committed these egregious acts, nothing will happen to him. We aren’t even sure if the State Bar can punish Anderson due to the statute of limitations. Sources say he is already talking about another run in two years.
What Anderson does not know, regardless if he is found to have committed these acts and is not prosecuted due to the statute of limitations issue, the citizens will not give him a pass. He should have learned this from his student, John Bradley. But just like his student, pride goeth before the fall and Anderson, just like his student has yet begun their journey down. We will keep you updated throughout th week on the trial.
Speaking of John Bradley, we received this press release from KC Strategies, campaign consultants for Jana Duty. The awards they received speak volumes, especially since they were judged on a national level. KC has a reputation of being “incumbent killers” and no doubt any opponent who they are up against will feel the heat. As one person who plans a run in the next election told us, “No way would I hire anyone else but KC Strategies. I saw how they took Bradley’s campaign consultant Charles Carter to the wood shed. Carter was shown to best suited for installing campaign signs, not running a campaign. It was embarrassing".
Below is the press release.
For Immediate Release: February 2, 2013
KC Strategies Honored by Campaigns & Elections Magazine with Reed Award
Austin, TX – KC Strategies has been honored with a Reed Award for excellence by Campaigns & Elections magazine for its work on Jana Duty’s successful 2012 campaign for Williamson County District Attorney. At the awards ceremony held on Friday night in Washington, D.C., the firm was recognized in the political technology field for its five-minute web video entitled “A Conversation with Jana Duty.” That video can be seen here:
“A Conversation with Jana Duty” http://goo.gl/1fkFd
Campaigns & Elections is the preeminent "how-to" journal of politics, focused on the tools, tactics and techniques of the political consulting profession. Its coveted Reed Awards recognize excellence in campaign management, political consulting and political communication. The bi-partisan awards are named after Campaigns & Elections founder Stanley Foster Reed.
KC Strategies was also one of three finalists in two other categories, “Best Local, County or Judicial Television Ad” for Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty’s 2012 television commercial entitled “Roadblock” and “Best Bare-Knuckled Street Fight Victory,” the Reed Award’s top special honor, for the Jana Duty Campaign in its entirety.
“Our bottom line is winning campaigns and helping our clients reach their goals, but it’s an honor to be recognized within the industry as well,” said Chad Crow, a principal at KC Strategies. “This award is a testament to the hard work of our creative team, as well as that of Jana Duty’s volunteers, supporters, donors, family and most of all, Jana herself.”
Jana Duty’s victory over longtime District Attorney John Bradley gained her nationwide attention as one of the first challengers to defeat an incumbent on the issue of DNA testing for the wrongly convicted. Bradley infamously blocked DNA testing that led to the exoneration of Michael Morton, a man who spent 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
“Jana faced overwhelming opposition from the state and local political establishment, but she took on the challenge with tenacity and a sense of purpose. It was a long, bruising fight, but those are the types of campaigns in which we take the most pleasure,” Crow concluded. “For a county-level campaign to compete for the Reed Awards top honor against a high profile U.S. Senate campaign and a Congressional campaign speaks volumes to the quality of the Duty Campaign and to our firm’s dedication to excellence.”
About KC Strategies:
Kori and Chad Crow are the husband and wife team behind KC Strategies, a full-service political consulting and campaign management firm based in Austin, Texas. Founded in 2002, the firm has worked on over 160 campaigns in 124 different Texas counties, including state legislative, judicial (county, state and appellate), county and non-partisan races.
Stoffel is also the brother-in-law of Hal Hawes, legal staffer to the Commissioners Court. Many are questioning a conflict of interest with the connection and any possible appointment.
The incident involving Stofel was never made public has been substantiated with recently discovered official documentation. We will have a full story on this very soon.
The winds of change are again blowing in Williamson County. Precinct Three Justice of the Peace Steve Benton has stated he is retiring in a few weeks. Benton’s term is half over and according to Texas law, the Williamson County Commissioners Court will vote to appoint an interim JP to fill the unexpired term.
A few names have been ciculating as being interested in the position. One of those has made it no secret he wants this job. Former Georgetown Police Assistant Chief Kevin Stoffel has been seen in Benton’s court observing and also speaking to several people expressing his interest. Stoffel was Assistant Chief under ousted chief David Morgan. Stoffel was later demoted by Police Chief Wayne Nero. Stoffel is “no longer” with the Georgetown Police Department.
Several serious incidents regarding Stoffel have been brought to our attention. We are gathering information regarding those claims. One very serious incident that was never made public while Stoffel was Assistant Chief under ousted former Chief Morgan has been substantiated with documentation. We will report on that soon.
Stoffel is also the brother-in-law of Hal Hawes, legal staffer to the Commissioners Court. Many are questioning a conflict of interest with the connection and any possible appointment.
We will have much more on Stoffel, and the other candidates expressing interest in the position over the next week.
The old Tony Bennett song goes "I left my heart in San Francisco" but after today a better title may be "I Left my heart and Wilco tax payer money in San Francisco".
The all-expense paid four day “training” trip to San Francisco, California placed on the agenda last Friday by lame duck DA John Bradley to the tune of $11,165.00 was “pulled” from today’s agenda, and thus no vote was conducted. We don’t know who on the Commissioners Court “pulled” the item or why.
What we do know is the expenditure was allowed by the Commissioners Court with no discussion or vote and over eleven thousand dollars is headed to San Francisco. Many are questioning why Bradley felt the need for this expenditure just a few weeks from his departure. Perhaps this was Bradley’s final “thumb to the nose” to those he feel have slighted him. Perhaps we will never know. One thing for certain, we will never forget.
We reported last week that a possible lawsuit was looming regarding a botched election in Williamson County. That lawsuit was filed today by Rusty Bessie Bryson in conjunction with her bid for Jarrell ISD school board.
The suit alleges multiple issues that occurred during the November 6th election.
The Statesman is also reporting on the suit. There are quotes from the embattled Williamson County elections administrator Rick Barron and also an elections judge that directly contradicts his quotes. Barron also says he “misspoke” about the number of voters who received incorrect ballots. No doubt Barron is making a mess of this with his statements.
The lawsuit also claims that “at least one election official was not properly trained.”
Barron said Monday that the lawsuit claim about a lack of training is “totally false. Both election judges went through several hours of training, which included the fact that there were different ballot styles in the election, he said.
One of the election judges, Ellen McClean, said in a previous interview that it was the first time Jarrell had multiple ballots and she wasn’t informed about them in training.
“Nobody feels more horrible about this than the other judge and I do,” she said.
Barron, who previously told the American-Statesman that election workers gave the wrong ballot to the first 100 voters on Election Day, said Monday that he misspoke. He now says most of those people received the correct ballot and only 15 to 20 people received the wrong ballot from election workers.
Last Tuesday evening, the executive committee of the Wilco Republican party voted unanimously to call for his immediate resignation. The committee heard from several election judges and others who experienced many problems on Election Day that were compounded by Barron, according to sources.
The EC has called on County Judge Dan Gattis to convene an immediate meeting of the Elections Commission who is the overseeing authority of Barron. We will have more if and when that happens
See a copy of the suit here
We will have more on this as it develops.
John Bradley is blowing through budget money faster than a first year college student with daddy’s credit card. Set on the agenda for Tuesday, an all-expense paid 4 day “training” trip to San Francisco California for seven to the tune of $ 11,165.00.
We can only imagine what the new District Attorney thinks about the outgoing DA’s decision to blow through funds and making personnel training decisions so late in the game. Sources have indicated Bradley is doing everything he can to create an environment of chaos for Duty once she takes over on January 1. From what sources are saying, he is doing a jam up job.
We will see if the Commissioner’s Court approves this expenditure on Tuesday with or without input from Duty. We will continue to keep a close eye on Bradley. Given his retaliatory budget spending, lack of assisting in a transition and “other issues” we are following up on, we are sure more turmoil will follow. But then again, did anyone really expect anything less from Bradley?
In the words of Pink Floyd…”Money… it's a gas Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash…”
As if things didn’t go bad enough on Election Day for Williamson County Elections Administrator Rick Barron, it appears they have just gotten a bit worse. On Tuesday evening, the executive committee of the Wilco Republican party voted unanimously to call for his immediate resignation. The committee heard from several election judges and others who experienced many problems on Election Day that were compounded by Barron, according to sources.
Several of the debacles were highlighted in the Statesman and other news outlets ranging from incorrect ballots, inoperable voting machines, improperly trained poll workers to one elections judge being forcibly removed from a polling location by Barron and three deputies.
The EC has called on County Judge Dan Gattis to convene an immediate meeting of the Elections Commission who is the overseeing authority of Barron. We will have more if and when that happens.
John Bradley can’t find a job. He is out of luck, out of time and according to sources, soon to be out of a salary he is not even showing up to the office to earn in the first place. He once said Michael Morton was “grasping at straws”. It now seems that Bradley is the one “grasping at straws”.
Bradley is still hard at work trying to gain support for his new venture, only with a new twist. He has personally stated he wants to start a private practice with Kristen Jernigan handing appellate work for both the State and the defense. Now sources say he intends to line up contracts with other small District Attorney offices around the State who do not have an appellate attorney on staff, handling the States appeals.
Sources state he also wants on the “rotation” of defense attorneys so he can handle appeals for indigent defendants. Apparently he has gotten the message that the chances of him being awarded sole conservatorship of all indigent defendants in Williamson County is as unlikely as him winning election as DA in 2016 (even though sources say he plans on running for DA yet again).
In essence, he wants to “double dip” for the State and defense. While Bradley has every right, as a private defense attorney to represent appellants on the defense side, many are taking offense with Bradley’s desire to stay sucking from the government teat on the State side. Bradley has cost the citizens of Williamson County hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting appeals with the Morton case alone.
Now he wants to continue living off of the taxpayer by representing other counties on a contract basis. While we can’t say what county (s) Bradley has approached for his new venture, we can only wonder what county (s) would even consider hiring him after the embarrassment he created for Williamson County on a national level. Remember, this is the same person who said "Innocence ... has proven to trump most anything." "A better approach, might be to get a written agreement that all the evidence can be destroyed after the conviction and sentence. Then, there is nothing to test or retest."
While Bradley continues to draw a salary, sources say he has been seen only a hand full of times in his office since his defeat in May. Just as his mentor, Ken Anderson, he continues wasting tax dollars drawing a salary that he is not earning. It’s time Bradley makes his own living, one not supported by the taxpayers of Texas.
Brandi Grissom with the Texas Tribune is reporting the Court of Inquiry regarding Ken Anderson has been delayed again.
"The court of inquiry that will determine whether the former prosecutor who oversaw the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton could face criminal charges will be delayed until Feb. 4, a prosecutor with the Texas attorney general’s office said Monday."
For full story click here.
An article published in the Statesman today sums up voting in Williamson County this past November 6th and possibly for years to come. The demographics are changing but the outcome has relatively stayed the same.
Sun City historically has a solid turnout rate. Of that, Sun City is 70% Republican and 30% Democrat and has maintained that ratio since its inception. We saw the Cedar Park Library and Brushy Creek voting boxes outpace every other box in the county. Polls were spot on, inside of the +/- 4, some dead on.
Some of the races in the November election were outright landslides while the closest, Tony Dale, the new State Representative won by in what most races would be considered a large margin; 12 points. Jana Duty, David Puryear, Bob Pemberton, Scott Fields, Jeff Rose, Tom Maynard and most other Republican candidates all won their races by 19 points or higher.
Former county Democratic Party chair Brian Hamon is a realist. He stated “The fact of the matter is we (Democrats) haven’t got a chance”.
This isn’t a swipe at Democrats in the county, it is what it is. The Republicans vote and vote in much higher percentages. Williamson County is a conservative county unlike its neighbor to the south.
Bill Gravell a well-known political consultant in Williamson County stated “although Sun City is a dominate force in Williamson County, the dynamics are shifting”.
Cedar Park is a heavy Republican block and has now outpaced Sun City. But Sun City has an 85% turnout rate to Cedar Parks 65%..
Bill Gravell managed the campaigns of Betsy Lambeth and Tom Maynard this past election cycle, winning both races. Lambeth defeated incumbent District Judge Mark Silverstone in May.
Charles Carter, a self-proclaimed Williamson County political consultant also weighed in. He said “Now the question is, is Sun City losing its dominant force in the county? Just by numbers alone, eventually yes. As the county grows, yes other parts of the county will outvote Sun City”.
Eventually? We aren’t sure what Carter is basing his research on but the numbers speak for themselves and “eventually” is here has been so for a few election cycles. Cedar Park and Brushy Creek Community Center both outpaced Sun City in early voting. There is no “eventually” about it, it is reality. Carter, who also ran his own failed campaign in November for the Chisholm Trail Utility District, losing badly to several other candidates, is best known for managing the campaigns of John Bradley and Mark Silverstone in the Republican Primary this past May. Both lost.
Gravell stated the Republican Party is “still dominate in Williamson County”. Gravell stated “However, complacency and a Charles Carter mindset of promoting, endorsing and managing weak, problematic candidates is a thing of the past and will only deteriorate the party”.
We agree. Carter should leave political consulting to the professionals and stick to what he does best, installing campaign road signs.
The main failure of the Democrat Party in Williamson County is their “it’s all good now” attitude because of the changing demographics. Despite the loss, Karen Carter said Democrats aren’t giving up: “We absolutely think everything in the future is working toward us. We’re not going away. We’re continuing to grow,” Carter said.
We agree with Mr. Hamon when he says Democrats do not have a chance in Williamson County and that reality is because of Carter’s misguided attitude. It is not all about “growth” as Ms. Carter seems to think. It’s not about “getting out the vote”. Fewer voted Democrat in 2012 than in 2008. If Democrats want to become a serious force in Williamson County and actually win an election, they should first begin by vetting candidates.
Ms. Carter seems to think Williamson County is turning purple. The only thing turning purple is the face of the Williamson County Democratic Party, who for the past 20 years has held their breath, wishing for a victory with a failed shotgun approach to elections. As long as the Williamson County Democrat Party promotes and embraces weak, underfunded, unqualified and problematic candidates and continues the attitude of running a “warm body” just for the sake of contesting a race, they will further deteriorate the credibility of their party and will not only continue to lose elections, but lose them badly. This isn’t our opinion; this is the opinion of the Williamson County electorate.