Updated

Davis criticizes judge in inquiry

By CRAIG KAPITAN

Eagle Staff Writer

A brief filed by Judge Rick Davis advised the judge presiding over court of inquiry proceedings that he made an error in defining the scope of the investigation.

Davis also claimed in the document filed Monday that in the time since accusing District Attorney Bill Turner last month of criminal wrongdoing, there has been a “media campaign implying that my actions are the result of a personal vendetta.”

The brief, which was requested by San Antonio-based Judge David Peeples, is the first step in a preliminary court of inquiry hearing scheduled for July 10.

District Attorney Bill Turner has until Monday to file a response with the judge.

Both will have an opportunity to argue during the hearing. However, Davis also indicated in the brief that he doesn’t plan to do so.

“I believe I have done my duty,” Davis wrote to Peeples, advising him that the law mandates a prosecutor be assigned. “Henceforward, I expect that my role will simply be that of a witness.”

Davis first submitted a request for an outside investigation of Turner on June 11, accusing the district attorney of wrongdoing for not prosecuting Justice of the Peace Ray Truelove and Tax Assessor-Collector Buddy Winn. Both were accused of conducting “time card scams.”

Truelove later responded that his employee, who was paid for 288 extra hours of comp time but later reimbursed the county, was at home recovering from surgery. Winn, who was accused of not ordering a doctor’s note when an employee used a large number of sick days, said his employee was having emotional problems.

In the original document, Davis also accused Turner of dragging his feet in an investigation of missing funds in the District Attorney’s Office.

A subsequent document argued that — even though a longtime employee was being investigated for pilfering the account — Turner should be criminally responsible for the missing funds.

But when Peeples submitted a document last week defining the parameters of the investigation, the judge did not mention looking into whether Turner should be criminally responsible.

“That ... is the most important part of the request for a court of inquiry,” Davis wrote to Peeples on Monday. “Thus, I think that the order defining the scope needs to be amended.”

As presiding judge, Peeples has the option of disregarding accusations as not viable prior even to the preliminary hearing.

“Clearly, there is a crying need for an independent, objective evaluation as to Mr. Turner’s liability,” Davis wrote.

Davis also mentioned in the brief that he does not “seek Bill Turner’s ruination” — refuting public speculations by Turner, Winn and Truelove that Davis’ request for investigation was a scheme to get back at Turner.

Last year, Davis was publicly reprimanded and issued the highest sanction possible by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct following hearings over a complaint filed by Turner.

The complaint detailed ethical violations made by Davis, including the comparison of a prosecutor to a Nazi prison guard. The accusations, which were all found to be substantiated by the commission, also dealt with writings by Davis to Turner in which the judge made veiled threats and profane comments.

“I apologized for what I did wrong, and meant it,” Davis wrote to Peeples. “I would not let the situation influence rulings or decisions in any case that I heard.

“While it may be expedient for Mr. Turner to trumpet my former reprimand and imply that my actions are the result of a personal animus, the facts of this case exist regardless of who raises the alarm,” Davis continued later in the document.

Turner has contended that no laws were broken by the two officials, and the probe of missing funds — which is still ongoing — has been done by the book.

The district attorney said he asked the Texas Rangers and the Attorney General’s Office to investigate earlier this year after it became evident that funds were missing.

In his brief Monday, Davis conceded that outside agencies are involved but added that Turner still has too much influence over the procedures.

Turner declined to comment Tuesday on the specifics of Davis’ brief.

“I have read his statement and am preparing a brief in response,” he said.

• Craig Kapitan’s e-mail address is ckapitan@theeagle.com.

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