WAXAHACHIE — Ellis County Precinct 4 Constable Mike Jones waived arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of tampering or fabricating physical evidence with intent to impair in the 443rd Judicial District Court on Tuesday morning.
Following the morning proceedings, Jones’ attorney, Mark Griffith, filed a motion to recuse Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson from the case due to a conflict of interest and requested an attorney pro tem be appointed.
Griffith stated in the motion that, by not disqualifying Wilson's, the court would violate Jones’ rights under the several laws — which include fifth, sixth and fourteenth amendments to the United States and Texas Constitutions, as well as the Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct.
“Patrick Wilson, the elected County and District Attorney, has filed a civil lawsuit to remove the defendant (Jones) from his duly elected office as Constable. By filing this lawsuit Patrick Wilson has made himself a witness in the criminal matter and cannot proceed as the prosecuting attorney nor can any attorney in his office,” Griffith wrote in the motion. “He had made himself a witness in this case by filing the civil lawsuit showing a personal bias against the defendant. This violates due process and the proper ethical discharge of a prosecutor’s duty.”
Griffith stated in his motion that a personal email from Ellis County Judge Carol Bush to Wilson regarding a personal problem that resident Roger Smotts had with Jones showed bias against his client. The email was forwarded from Bush to Wilson.
The complaint involved the placement of a political sign at a business and alleged threats made by Jones to Smotts and his family. Smotts stated that he was going to file a complaint against Jones due to his alleged actions.
“Due to threats that have been made and the slanderous false statements and allegations being made about my wife and me, I am filing my official complaint against Constable Mike Jones, Precinct 4 Constable of Ellis County. Mike Jones has accused my wife and me of removing, defacing and vandalizing his campaign signs,” Smotts wrote. “Mike Jones has continued to make slanderous and false accusations and insults threating my integrity as a police officer, Dallas County Investigator, and reputation in the community in which I have lived and have remained involved in. “
Smotts stated that he brought this concern to the county in order to “best handle and monitor to ensure mine and my family and friends safety concerning Mike Jones.”
Because of the email chain, Griffith stated that Wilson is already a witness in the pending criminal case against the defendant.
“No reasonable person looking from the outside in would believe that the defendant has been or will be afforded due process by the Ellis County District and County Attorney’s Office,” Griffith wrote.
Griffith also argues that county email accounts have been used for personal matters not associated with county business.
“A part of this motion for all purposes, is a personal email, not dealing with county business, from Patrick Wilson to the County Judge Carol Bush indicating his pleasure that the defendant is receiving bad press in the Star-Telegram,” Griffith wrote. “This again goes towards Mr. Wilson’s bias towards this prosecution of the defendant and makes him a witness as towards that bias.”
Griffith then states that Bush used the county email system for personal reasons. He cited an email from Bush to Wilson regarding the Jones’ Facebook posts. The email Bush forwarded Wilson was dated Dec. 10, 2015, from resident Max Mills.
“Yesterday evening, Constable Mike Jones wrote an inflammatory political tirade on his public Facebook Page ‘Constable Mike Jones.’ The status was a reaction to the surge of South American refugee children coming to North Texas and, in particular, Ellis County,” Mills wrote in the email. “He notes how we should 'be moving them closer to the border so we can kick their butts back across the Rio Grande.’ Again, most of these refugees are children. He writes that ‘I am told these illegal immigrants are NOT Syrians but are South Americans! Are you kidding me? Are we suppose to believe anything the Obama Administration tells us?’”
Griffith states in the motion that these exhibits show that the district attorney’s office and Wilson have a personal bias against Jones.
“Through this bias and the filing of the civil lawsuit, Patrick Wilson made himself a witness in the criminal case, and he and his office should be disqualified. And an attorney pro tem should be appointed immediately.
Griffith also states in his motion that Wilson referred to Jones as a threat to Bush in a letter sent from Wilson to Texas Ranger Adam Sweeney. Griffith pointed to the letter as another act of bias against Jones.
The letter to Sweaney states “Ellis County Judge Carol Bush believes her physical safety may be at risk because of comments made toward her by Ellis County Constable Mike Jones.”
Griffith also sites bias in an email sent by the district attorney’s office to all public officials and staff regarding use of public computers.
“However, please remember that using a public resource to affect the result of an election violates the County’s personnel policy and the law. As a public employee, you must refrain from engaging in any campaign activity during your regular working time,” Wilson wrote in an email from Dec. 11, 2013. “You are expressly prohibited from using any county office equipment and supplies for the purpose of engaging in any campaign activity.”
Griffith states in the motion that Wilson has violated the county policy on the use of public equipment for campaign purposes.
“Council for (the) defendant has personal proof that Patrick Wilson sends to most, if not all public officials and support staff, a request to come to the ‘Pull for Patrick Fundraiser' for his campaign. This act by Patrick Wilson requires, by opening emails he sends on public computers to have the person opening the email violate the actual policy under with the defendant is being indicted,” Griffith stated in the motion. “This shows further bias that no other public official is charged with said offense, including Patrick Wilson and therefore creates the personal bias and vendetta show through these exhibits that prohibit the defendant from receiving due process or due course of the law if the Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office is allowed to continue to prosecute this case.”
The Daily Light spoke with Wilson about the motion for recusal Tuesday afternoon.
"I will give it to Mr. Jones' lawyers for some creative legal writing, that is for sure. I look forward to contesting this motion and opposing this motion in court and seeing how the court rules," Wilson said. "Their characterization of their exhibits is creative, to say the least. We are going to oppose this motion and let our arguments be made in our response and in court."
Jones was indicted Wednesday, Feb. 8 by an Ellis County Grand Jury for tampering with physical evidence — a felony of the third degree. The indictment is the second for Jones over the last year.
Jones was also indicted by the Ellis County Grand Jury for allegedly abusing his official capacity, which is a Class A misdemeanor on May 11, 2016. The indictment states the constable misused government property for his personal for-profit business and during his re-election campaign. According to the court documents, the property included an Ellis County issued smartphone, computer, email service, and vehicle, along with the services of county employees.
Jones' final pretrial hearing on the charge of abuse of official capacity is set for 9 a.m. on Thursday in the 443rd Judicial District Court.
The Ellis County Courts and Administration Building is located at 109 S. Jackson St. in downtown Waxahachie. Free parking is available in the parking garage next to the building.
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