In Tarrant It’s Good to be White, Rich, and Republican

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Are we all equal or do different citizens enjoy special privileges and benefits?  Our Constitution tells us that we are equal, but are we?  Here is a story about how one person, an elected official, gets special privileges above and beyond the normal citizens and blatantly and obscenely abuses her power.  To make things worse, this person is a sitting Judge in Tarrant County.

Remember Judge Russ Casey?  The one who was sanctioned for forcing his subordinate to have sex with him, in the courthouse, while wearing his robe?  Let’s talk about a current situation that gives all the appearance of special treatment of a special class of citizens, an elected official.  And this elected official is Russ Casey, the Justice of the Peace of Precinct 3 which includes Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Southlake, North Richland Hills, Keller, Grapevine, and Colleyville areas.  You may remember Direct Action Texas reporting about the (dis)Honorable Russ Casey forging signatures in order to get on the ballot for the 2018 Republican Primary election.  Direct Action Texas, along with various Republican activists, went across Precinct 3 searching for citizens of whom the Judge forged their signatures.  It was a rainy Sunday in December when voter after voter swore to affidavits that the signatures that the Judge submitted were not, in fact, their signatures.

There was a criminal complaint filed against Russ Casey by his Republican Primary opponent, Lenny Lopez.  The Tarrant County Sheriff, Bill Waybourn, investigated the crime.  The Sheriff contacted all the victims of the forgery, then sent a detective out to each of their homes to speak to each victim.  Then the Sheriff turned over the evidence to the District Attorney, Sharen Wilson, who sent a THIRD round of people to knock on each victim’s door.  Then nothing happened.

We waited and waited.  For some reason, Sharen Wilson didn’t think that there was a sense of urgency in this.  One theory is that she didn’t want to give Lenny Lopez any additional exposure for exposing the fraudulent activity by the Judge, but honestly, no one knows what Sharen Wilson was thinking other than Sharen Wilson.  I should make it clear that the delay could be nothing more than  the typical and expected government inefficiency that we have all become accustomed to.  Or maybe it wasn’t.  All I know is that it didn’t happen quickly.

Yours truly happened to be sitting around thinking about the injustice of Jacqueline Wright and the probability that no one will actually do anything to make a difference (or at least not enough people) and I decided to look into Russ Casey.  I called my lawyer to look up his case and found out that not only had his case been filed on April 17th, 2018 and Casey is scheduled to appear before the Hon. Wayne Salvant on Monday, April 23rd, 2018 in the Criminal District Court #2 on the 6th floor of the Tim Curry Justice Center at 9:00 a.m. for the Plea Bargain docket.  Yes, his attorney had already worked out a plea deal within 4 days of the case being filed.  It is not public record what the deal is, but a hearsay within hearsay within hearsay rumor has it that it will be probation and resignation from his job as a Judge.

Probation.  Really?  Probation?  Sharen Wilson refused to offer a plea deal to Crystal Mason (who is African-American) for illegal voting, making it known that Sharen felt that crimes which involve the integrity of the political process should go to the jury.  Sharen allowed the citizens of Tarrant County to determine guilt or innocence,  and on March 18th, 2018, the jury found her guilty and she received 5 years in prison from the Judge, no probation.  If you remember February 9th, 2017, Rosa Maria Ortega (who is Hispanic) was tried in front of a jury for illegal voting.  Once again, Sharen Wilson thought it was important for the citizens of Tarrant County to decide if she was guilty or not guilty, and the jury found her guilty and sentenced her to 8 years in prison, no probation.  Oh, and Rosa will also be deported.  This time, we have a white, male Republican elected official who lives in a nice suburb community of North Richland Hills and Sharen Wilson has evidently decided that a jury is not qualified to hear this case and has allowed Russ Casey to avoid prison time.  If you ever wonder how incarceration rates by ethnicity gets out of  control, it starts one case at a time, beginning with cases like this.   According to the Bureau of Prisons, Black defendants  have an incarceration rate 6 times higher than whites.  Hispanics are 2.5 times higher than whites.  Sharen Wilson has taken the power away from the citizens to decide whether Russ Casey is guilty or not, and has decided to bypass the citizens in this political crime.  We elect our representatives to represent the citizens.  Given what the citizens said about Crystal Mason and Rosa Maria Ortega, is Sharen really representing the will of the citizens?  Do not overlook the fact that while Mason was being tried, Sharen Wilson was investigating and working on Russ Casey’s case.

So the question is, why are the citizens of Tarrant County denied the chance to stand in judgement of Russ Casey?

I’ve racked my brain thinking about why the DA would be willing to give Russ probation.  Perhaps the DA thought that this would be a way to get Russ out of office immediately, since they could condition the plea bargain on Casey resigning from office.  However, I just don’t buy that.  If there is a trial and Casey is convicted, then Chapter 87 of the Texas Local Government Code mandates that he would be removed from office.  It says, in part: (a petit jury is the jury of 12 that will determine guilt or innocence)

Sec. 87.031.  IMMEDIATE REMOVAL.  (a)  The conviction of a county officer by a petit jury for any felony or for a misdemeanor involving official misconduct operates as an immediate removal from office of that officer.

If Casey was found “Not Guilty,” then justice and due process would have been served.  If the trial was never reached by the end of Casey’s term, then he would be leaving office on December 31st anyways.  I can speculate that the argument was the goal was to have Casey removed from office as soon as possible, but then why did the DA wait 5 months before filing charges against him?  This just doesn’t make sense.  Why was it so important for Crystal Mason and Rosa Ortega to go to trial and eventually prison, yet Russ Casey gets to work out a “deal” and get probation.  Like the Esurance commercial lady said, “That’s not how it works.  That’s now how any of this works.”

I’m not saying that Casey is getting special favors because he is white, because he is an elected official, because he is a Republican, or that Sharen Wilson is guilty of racial bias.  I’m saying that for someone as politically astute as Sharen, she should know exactly how this looks.  The way this case was handled by the Tarrant County District Attorney was like they were trying to shove 5 pounds of crap in a 3 pound bag.

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