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Texas Judge Suzanne Wooten Still Facing Felony Bribery Charges – But the FBI Investigation May Point Fingers at Her Prosecutors, Stay Tuned

Texas Judge Suzanne Wooten’s predicament — being indicted on 6 counts of bribery while presiding over a Collin County judicial bench — was something that we first discussed last October, when Judge Wooten’s attorneys were arguing this was all politically motivated hogwash while the prosecutor, then District Attorney John Roach, claimed his offices were merely seeking after justice. (For details, check out “Texas Judge Suzanne Wooten Indicted for Bribery, Suspended With Pay.”)

Judge Suzanne Wooten Is Still Officially Presiding Over Her District Court Bench While Suspended With Pay

Judge Wooten is still officially presiding over the 380th Judicial District Court of Collin County, Texas; however, she is still on suspension by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct so the Honorable Suzanne Wooten has had others covering her work on the bench while she remains at home with pay — and according to the homework done by John Pitchford of the Collin County Observer in checking public salary records, Judge Wooten has been getting $12,000 /month  since October 2010 without taking the bench once.

That’s a pretty long paid vacation, right? Meanwhile, things are getting more and more interesting as her trial was moved and moved again, and now Judge Wooten may not see a trial until sometime next year.

Judge Suzanne Wooten Faces Two More Charges – and a newly released FBI Report

The felony trial of Suzanne Wooten was set to begin on August 20th in front of a visiting judge from the Tyler bench, Judge Kerry Russell; however, that trial date fizzled and it’s predicted there won’t be another solid trial date until after the new year.  Why?

The indictment has been amended — it’s grown with 2 additional charges — and there’s new evidence to deal with:  on the eve of this August trial, the special prosecutors (two Texas Assistant Attorneys General, the special prosecutors that John Roach had asked be appointed to the case, Harry White and Brian Chandler) have finally introduced a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI has prepared a preliminary 48-page report concerning Judge Wooten’s activities and it was conducted because Judge Wooten complained to the FBI about political shenanigans back in April 2010.  (As described in our earlier post, Wooten is arguing witch hunt, pointing to John Roach’s four different grand jury proceedings against her since her record-breaking election as a Republican back in 2008.)

According to media reports, Judge Wooten’s attorney has charged that the FBI’s report refers to Wooten as ”the victim,” and names members of the Collin County District Attorney’s Office as FBI investigation targets, including the special prosecutors appointed on John Roach’s request, Assistant AGs Harry White and Brian Chandler.  (No wonder some question why that report took so long to get turned over in discovery.)

District Attorney John Roach Has Been Replaced – And His Replacement Wants to Toss This Hot Potato To A NEW Prosecutor Pronto

Meanwhile, over at the District Attorney’s office, things have changed.  John Roach isn’t the Top Dog anymore.  Now, Greg Willis is the District Attorney for Collin County, Texas  — and yesterday, this new District Attorney filed a motion that is making the news: he’s requesting the criminal court judge remove the special prosecutors that John Roach had asked be appointed to the case, Assistant Texas Attorneys General Harry White and Brian Chandler, and that Judge Wooten’s case be prosecuted by someone totally new.

A copy of District Attorney Greg Willis’ motion can be read in its entirety here. From his motion:

“The citizens of Collin County deserve to have an impartial and disinterested attorney appointed by this Court to assess and determine how this prosecution should move forward. To that end, the undersigned District Attorney, also requests permission to recuse himself and requests that this Court appoint an impartial and disinterested attorney pro tem. …

“This matter has been mired in politics, speculation, and allegations of conflicts of interest since its inception. Regardless of the existence of actual conflicts of interest, this prosecution is cloaked in the appearance of impropriety and should not continue on its present course.”

“A prosecutor should be independent, unbiased, without conflicts of interest, and not witnesses to any of the concerns presented to the grand jury.”

“In view of his decision to voluntarily recuse himself, the District Attorney further moves the court to appoint an impartial and disinterested attorney pro tem pursuant Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 2.07. …

“The citizens of Collin County must trust in the integrity of countywide elections, and also in the integrity of those who investigate and prosecute allegations of public corruption in the same manner. The proximity of the Texas Attorney General ‘s Office and that of the former Collin County Criminal District Attorney to the allegations which are at the heart of the indictment, and to the related federal investigations into the same, have placed that trust in jeopardy.”

Last fall, we wrote this was a High Noon face-off between John Roach and Suzanne Wooten and that things would get a lot bigger before the end of it all.  Key to our prediction, the fact that a big bunch of criminal defense attorneys gave Judge Wooten a standing ovation when she took the bench:  again, criminal defense attorneys practicing daily in a local courthouse usually know what’s going down and that act of unity tells us all something.

It’s still going to get bigger.  We’ll keep you posted.

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