Attorney Paul Key
Over 20 Years of Experience

Collin County Judge Wooten Indicted - But Consider the Source

October 15, 2010

By Paul Key on October 15, 2010 5:10 PM

On October 14, 2010 Collin County District Attorney John Roach was finally able to convince a Collin County grand jury to return an indictment against Judge Suzanne Wooten. I say "finally" because he has apparently been at it for some time, now, this being the sixth grand jury to hear his story. This is significant, considering how relatively easy it is for a DA to obtain an indictment when he wants one. The cliche about a DA indicting a ham sandwich comes to mind.

What's more telling about the quality of Mr. Roach's indictment of Judge Wooten is the quality of some of his past high profile indictments. While getting an indictment is generally pretty easy in Texas, it is very difficult for a judge to dismiss charges once indicted. Texas law allows a judge to dismiss charges under very few circumstances, unless the DA asks the court to dismiss the charges. For instance, generally speaking, a Texas judge cannot dismiss charges just because he thinks the DA has a factually weak case. With that in mind, consider two of DA Roach's past high profile indictments:

Texas v. Sheriff Jim Bowles, Dallas County. Roach obtained multiple indictments against Boyles for alleged election code violations. Roach spent vast county resources going after Boyles. Readers might recall the high profile nature of the investigation, with Roach's assistants and investigators raiding the Dallas County Sheriff's offices and holding press conferences. Every single charge was thrown out by District Judge Karen Greene. The dismissal of the charges were a humiliating defeat.

Texas v. Sheriff Weldon Lucas, Denton County.
Roach obtained multiple indictments against Sheriff Lucas under circumstances similar to those of Boyles. Those indictments met a similarly inglorious end, being dismissed about a week after indictment.

In neither of these two cases was DA Roach requesting that the charges be dismissed. In fact, he vowed to press on in the Boyles case. They were dismissed because they were the result of overzealous overreaching on Roach's part, and what he indicted were not even crimes. Imagine: John Roach indicts people for things that are not even crimes.

I predict that Roach's prosecution--I know, I know, now it's supposedly the attorney general doing it--of Judge Wooten will meet a fate similar to those of his other high profile blunders. Judge Wooten will be vindicated, and John Roach will have further damaged his reputation and legacy.

Resources:

DMN - State District Judge Suzanne Wooten, others, indicted on bribery charges related to 2008 campaign, The Collin County Observer, 10/15/2010

Bowles Investigation: Milner 0 for 5 on Indictments, www.Dallas.org, 04/01/2004