A judge said he expects to issue rulings in two to three weeks on the future of petitions that seek Brownwood Mayor Bert Massey’s and Brown County Judge Ray West’s removals from office.
Senior Judge Jay Gibson of Odessa, though, wouldn’t hint on which way he’ll likely rule on Brownwood resident Joe Cooksey’s petitions: will he dismiss them or issue orders of citation, meaning they will move toward jury trials?
Gibson was reached by phone Wednesday after a hearing in 35th District Court, in which another judge denied Cooksey’s motion to have Gibson recused.
Gibson said he was on the verge of issuing a ruling when he was notified by Presiding Judge Dean Rucker of the Seventh Administrative Judicial Region that a motion had been filed seeking his recusal.
“When someone files a motion to recuse, that freezes everything,” Gibson said. Once he receives a court order indicating the recusal motion was denied, he said, he’ll be able to go forward with his decision.
Gibson said he has done a great deal of reading and research with regard to Cooksey’s petitions. “I wanted to do it thoroughly,” he said.
Cooksey filed motions last month seeking Gibson’s recusal, arguing that Gibson had failed to issue rulings within 90 days as required by state law. Cooksey also argued that Gibson’s slowness in making a ruling indicated bias.
Cooksey lost that argument in the hearing Wednesday.
Without comment, Visiting Judge John Weeks of Coleman denied Cooksey’s motions to recuse Gibson.
Defendants’ attorneys Jon Mark Hogg of San Angelo and Ed Huddleston of Fort Worth argued that the 90-day requirement Cooksey referenced doesn’t apply to the petitions for removal. They also argued that the delay is not an indication of bias.
“(Gibson) took no action in a 90-day period,” Cooksey told Weeks. “The constitution guarantees me a right to due process … Judge Gibson is just sitting there. This could’ve been settled long ago.
“ … What is a plaintiff to do? Get on his hands and knees and beg the judge ‘please make a ruling’? The judge has the power to rule. Why is he just sitting there?”
Gibson, when asked for comment on Weeks’ denial of Cooksey’s motion for his recusal, said, “I believe in the system, and if someone has a concern about a judge’s partiality or impartiality, they have a right to express it.”
Cooksey’s petition that seeks Massey’s removal from office claims incompetence and official misconduct on Massey’s part. The petition claims that Massey has improperly profited from properties the city has bought and sold, violating the city’s charter.
Massey said earlier that the claims are meritless.
In the petition that seeks West’s removal, Cooksey alleges that West violated former Brown County Tax Assessor-Collector Linda Lewis Parker’s civil rights and several state laws during a criminal investigation.