Monday, April 05, 2010

Hockley Sheriff removed from office by jury after civil trial

Using a mechanism I didn't know existed until recently, the Hockley County Sheriff was removed from office last week after a civil trial in which jurors found him incompetent. Reported AP:

The 12 jurors deliberated less than three hours before 10 answered 'yes' to three of 17 questions pertaining to Kinney's competency as sheriff. Ten needed to answer only one question affirmatively to find he acted incompetently.

The 10 agreed Kinney promoted Gordon Bohannon to chief deputy with knowledge that Bohannon had "improper involvement" with a known felon and a person with criminal intentions. They also agreed Kinney allowed Bohannon to go to the district attorney to have a case dismissed involving a felon who was part of the drug ring, and Kinney failed to enforce sheriff's office written policy about "consorting" with people of bad character.

Bohannon, who testified at the trial for the county, has pleaded guilty to federal charges for his involvement the meth ring and is awaiting sentencing.

The jurors answered 'no' to seven questions regarding allegations of official misconduct.

In his closing argument, George Thompson, said action was needed because Kinney had ignored signs that one of his deputies was involved in a drug ring. County officials who suspended Kinney were trying to protect county residents, he said: "These good men saw something evil was flourishing and decided to do something."

Hobson said in his closing that Kinney should have been removed at re-election, not trial. He also claimed the investigation was a witch hunt.

"This whole process stinks — they way they've gone about removing David Kinney," he said. "If David Kinney is incompetent he should be removed. By you" at the polls.

What an extraordinary development! A similar removal petition has been filed in Dallas and green-lighted by a local judge, but prosecutors haven't announced whether they'll move forward. The Dallas News reported recently that:

While not a common occurrence, a number of elected officials in Texas have been removed from office or suspended after allegations of wrongdoing, misconduct or incompetence. Some recent examples:

EDUARDO "WALO" BAZAN

Bazan, a longtime Hidalgo County constable, was convicted in 2006 of felony theft and received a probated sentence after taking a stolen vehicle seized by his deputies for his personal use. Authorities had Bazan suspended from office pending the outcome of his criminal appeal, and his peace officer license was revoked. He won re-election in 2008 and was sworn in as constable for his sixth term in early 2009, despite the fact that he was suspended. An appeals court upheld his conviction last week, but he can appeal that decision. Hidalgo District Attorney Rene Guerra describes Bazan's constable office as "in limbo."

LARRY DALE FLOYD

Floyd, a Denton county constable, was removed from office in 2005 after he was accused of trying to have sex with an 8-year-old girl in Colorado and child pornography offenses in Texas. After the removal lawsuit was filed, Floyd did not file a response. Denton County Judge Mary Horn said that if she could have, she would have fired Floyd on the spot, but "the constable is an elected position, just like I am – I'm not their boss."

ERNEST GERARD MIRELES

Mireles, the Maverick County attorney, resigned in 2002 shortly after a local newspaper publisher filed a petition of removal. The petition claimed that Mireles hadn't been in the county, which is just northwest of Laredo, for months.

SAUL OCHOA

Ochoa, a Cameron County constable, faced a petition for removal in 2008 after he was arrested and convicted of selling marijuana confiscated in drug seizures. He was sentenced to 57 months in prison. According to news accounts, Jose Maldonado Jr., who was appointed after Ochoa was ousted, was elected in November 2008 but agreed to resign in early 2009 rather than face criminal charges involving public intoxication and allowing a friend to fire his county-issued pistol in the air. A criminal investigator with the Cameron County district attorney's office was then appointed as the new constable.

One notices the majority of officials who've been removed from office this way have been law enforcement officers - constables, a prosecutor, and now a Sheriff.

RELATED: Petitions against Dallas constable, Hockley Sheriff highlight obscure, civil removal process for county pols

3 comments:

Don said...

Scott: Couple of things. Actually, Gordon Bohannon was sentenced Friday to 10 years Federal. That was his plea bargain.
Living in Levelland and being casually acquainted with most of the major figures in this fiasco, one thing strikes me that didn't seem to arouse much interest, and that is the fact that a Federal Investigation involving FBI, ATF, DEA, IRS, and perhaps a few more agencies that I missed, was going on under Dave Kinney's nose for two years, in his own county, and he didn't even KNOW about it. The feds said they didn't bring him in or let him know about it because they didn't trust him. It just seems even more amazing than having your deputy involved in drug ring and not knowing about it. The other thing is that the deputy, Gordon Bohannon's, wife is our county treasurer and has stated to the press that she stands by her husband. She was re-elected in March by a wide margin. (Well, after all, her husband won't be able to support her and she does need a job). It is interesting to note that both Kinney and Bohannon still have a lot of supporters here.
Also interesting, Bohannon totally blamed Kinney for "sending him to Federal prison" and stated on the stand that he regretted saving Kinney's life a few years ago, when he shot a guy that was allegedly about to shoot Kinney). What a coupla guys!
Barney would have never been able to get himself into this kind of mess. Andy would have had his bullet in a Mayberry Minute!

Boyness said...

These are the ones who have been caught. The true scope of lying, cheating, dope-dealing, thieving public officials in Texas would be mind boggling. Of course, we will NEVER know the true scope because these people are usually protected until they just become to obvious as to be an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

"This whole process stinks — they way they've gone about removing David Kinney," he said. "If David Kinney is incompetent he should be removed. By you" at the polls. "

I do not know how he can say this. If someone, anyone, has control over a population whether by popularity or force, chances are he would have been re-elected. My thought is this is exactly what should have happened. no extra time in office, no mor wasting tax payer money employing that dill weed. found incompetent, and now found un-employed. I say great job.

I wonder if you can have a civil trial against state reps in the same manner... 8)