Duty defeated incumbent DA John Bradley in a GOP primary in 2012, essentially running the long-time prosecutor stalwart out of town. (He's now prosecuting fishing crimes in Palau.) But lately, she appears to be headed down her own dark path. Duty spent time in jail for contempt in August for violating a gag order and last week the same judge ruled she intentionally withheld evidence at a capital murder trial. Reported the Austin Statesman:
Crispin Harmel can face a second trial because Duty did not intend to provoke a mistrial during his first trial, according to a court document filed Friday by District Judge Rick Kennon.That makes it sound like Duty essentially just threw a snit fit. To intentionally withhold evidence in a capital murder trial because opposing counsel "acted so horribly to me" bespeaks a profound lack of professionalism.
“It is unknown to the court why Ms. Duty intentionally and willfully withheld the means to view time stamps on the Walmart Surveillance video other than from Ms. Duty’s statement that “(defense counsel) acted so horribly to me during the first trial, that I just — I didn’t want to speak to them,’” the court document said.
“The court does not approve of this conduct or the reason for it. However, the court finds no evidence that Ms. Duty intended to goad a mistrial or avoid an acquittal.”
Prosecutors and defense lawyers have been barred from commenting on the case by a gag order.
Defense attorney Kristin Jernigan filed a notice Friday that she plans to appeal Kennon’s decision to the 3rd Court of Appeals. She has previously argued that Harmel could not be tried again because double jeopardy bars a retrial when the prosecutor’s conduct was intentional in provoking the request for a mistrial.
And in Dallas, after ousting Democrat Craig Watkins in the 2014 general election, Republican Susan Hawk revealed that she suffers from major depression and has taken a leave of absence to be hospitalized for treatment which is approaching the two-month mark.
Dallas News political writer Gromer Jeffers had a column recently documenting the details of her undoing - paranoia, fallouts with long-time allies, divorcing her husband just as she took office, and her unexplained absence from the job in August which was ultimately revealed to stem from mental health issues that she concealed from voters during her campaign. Moreover, she "fired or forced the resignation of at least six key employees under controversial circumstances" since she took office in January, some of them close allies.
I've heard attorneys in Dallas openly speculate she may never come back. But unless she resigns, she's there until 2018.
One empathizes with Judge Hawk but the local perception is she lied to voters and going AWOL is a bad look.
Both women are beginning to look like one-termers.