There must be something in the water in Williamson County, Texas. After defeating John Bradley (that asshole), Jana Duty, who had never prosecuted an adult felony case, became District Attorney.
For her first adult felony jury trial, Duty chose a “delayed strangulation” case that even Bradley had recognized to be a dog. She
bought found a witness who would testify that strangulation could cause death up to two years later.
During the trial there was an issue about Duty hiding evidence (my understanding is that the defense lawyer had asked her for a video; Duty had said she didn’t have it; at trial it turned out that she had had it, and knew she had), and a mistrial was declared. When Duty wanted to retry the case, the defense said, “not so fast,” arguing (essentially) that retrial was jeopardy-barred because it was the prosecutor’s misconduct that had caused the mistrial.
In the course of these proceedings, on March 20 Duty had sought a gag order from the court. On April 9 the court had issued the gag order. Then on May 7 Duty violated the gag order that she had requested by talking to the Austin American Statesman about a defense motion. The judge scheduled a hearing on May 8, and ordered Duty to be there.
She didn’t show up
because the judge wouldn’t tell her what it was about, and because it was only going to be a 10- to 15-minute hearing.
. . . . .
After missing that hearing, Duty sent an email to Kennon and other attorneys in the case that said: “If you feel I need to be reprimanded for communicating with the Statesman, I understand. But making a public spectacle out of punishing me just hurts everyone. No one will come out unscathed.”
(This is really one of those read-the-whole-article situations.)
After missing the hearing, in May Duty also sent one of her minions to file a motion to rescind the gag order, contending that it was unconstitutional.
And of course in July Duty filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the Court of Criminal Appeals, complaining that the district court had not been authorized to issue the gag order that she had asked it to issue. This was after she had tried to file petitions for writs of mandamus related to the same murder case in the Third Court of Appeals in May and June.
- March 20: Request gag order.
- April 9: Get gag order.
- May 6: Violate Gag order.
- May 8: Blow off hearing.
- May 13: Move to rescind gag order.
- May 27: File mandamus in Austin Court of Appeals.
- June 9: File mandamus in Austin Court of Appeals.
- July 16: File mandamus in Court of Criminal Appeals.
In August visiting judge Doug Shaver (a retired judge out of Harris County) heard the contempt proceeding against Duty, and promptly sentenced her to 10 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Sometimes people who are batshit insane don’t realize that it is obvious to the rest of the world that they are batshit insane. In any rational county, Jana Duty wouldn’t make it through the next Republican primary. She has made a laughingstock of them and cost the county a fortune.
Unfortunately, sometimes counties that are batshit insane don’t realize that it is obvious to the rest of the world that they are batshit insane.