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Judge tosses out petition seeking removal of county judge
by Joe Baker
Nov 22, 2012 | 1495 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KARNES CITY – District Judge David Peeples has dismissed a petition brought forward by County Attorney Robert Busselman filed on behalf of the State of Texas seeking the removal from office of Karnes County Judge Barbara Shaw.

Busselman said Judge Peeples didn’t list any specific reasons for dismissing the petition, but has dismissed it “without prejudice” meaning that the petition may or may not be brought forward again at a future date.

“The judge did not grant us permission to go forward,” Busselman said. “I am disappointed. I hope to find out why it was not done, because it should have been done. We need to get rid of Barbara.”

Busselman said he needs to time to research what his options may be at this point in order to continue with the effort to remove the county judge from office.

“I’m not throwing in the towel,” Busselman said. “I don’t know how to do that.”

“I just need to think about it for a while.”

The petition was filed with the district clerk’s office on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Busselman claimed in the petition that Shaw should be removed from office because she failed to perform her statutory duties, violated the judicial canons and interfered with the duties of the county attorney by refusing to work with Betty Yarter, who Busselman appointed as assistant county attorney.

The petition says that while driving to new Orleans with his wife, Busselman received several phone calls from Shaw and during one conversation Shaw repeatedly stated that she wanted Busselman to fire his assistant county attorney, Betty Yarter, in order to ensure that Maurice Yarter, Betty Yarter’s husband, would stay out of her office area. Busselman responded saying that he had no authority to bar anyone from her office area in a public building and that he needed the assistant, Betty Yarter, especially since he was still facing the possibility of surgery.

“During these telephone calls, Judge Shaw expressed her opinion that ‘the Yarters were evil.’ These are additional examples of Judge Shaw’s direct interference with the duties and responsibilities of the county attorney and her violation of the judicial canons,” the petition states.

Furthermore Busselman alleged that Shaw abused her judicial authority by issuing a Show Cause order to the county attorney and moving forward with subsequent legal proceedings accusing the county attorney of constructive contempt.

A voluntary statement is attached to the petition in which Anna Reyes describes the circumstances of a day in county court in which Busselman refused to appear when requested to do so by Judge Shaw.

“Ms. Barbara N. Shaw advise the court that there would be a recess cause she was trying to get Mr. Busselman to come to courtroom. But Mrs. Betty was already sitting in for Mr. Busselman,” Reyes said in the statement.

Another attached statement from Sylvia Gutierrez says that, “On Oct. 2, 2012, about 9:05 a.m., Barbara Shaw, the county judge, came out of the county courtroom storming down the hall to Mr. Busselman’s office and rudely interrupted a phone call Mr. Busselman was having on his phone.”

Gutierrez’ account of the confrontation says that Shaw told Busselman that Betty Yarter could not be in county court. Busselman said that Yarter would be there representing the county attorney’s office. When Shaw said she would then reset every case, Busselman responded by saying, “Do whatever you want. I don’t give a (expletive), you’re going to do whatever you want anyways, you do it all the time.”

The petition also claimed that by utilizing outside legal counsel, the duties of the of the county attorney were improperly and illegally usurped.

The petition also alleged Shaw violated the Texas Open Meetings Act and changed the budget of the county attorney’s office in an effort to interfere with the duties and authority of the county attorney.

In the form of a requested temporary injunction, the petition asked the court to immediately suspend Shaw from office and appoint County Commissioner James Rosales to assume the duties of the office of county judge until the case is heard in court. The request for temporary injunction asked the court to restrain Shaw from going to any county offices, retrieving or altering any county records or communicating with any county employee, except as allowed by subpoena or court order.

The petition concluded by asking the court to, after a trial by jury, enter a judgment permanently removing Shaw from office and grant any other relief that may be justified.

The petition and attached documents are detailed and lengthy.

This peition is not the first time Busselman has attempted to remove elected officials from office.

In 2009, Busselman filed a petition on behalf of Clyde Eckols seeking the removal of all the members of Commissioners Court, claiming all five were incompetent.

District Judge David Peeples dismissed the suit because acts cited in the petition happened before members of the court were elected to office.

Busselman also filed a suit to remove County Treasurer Vi Malone from office in 2011 citing allegations of misconduct.

The unanimous jury verdict found in favor of Malone and against the claims made by Busselman. The county then had to reimburse Malone her $35,000 in attorney’s fees.

On a 4-1 vote, Karnes County Commissioners Court approved a resolution declaring no confidence in County Attorney Robert Busselman during a special meeting Nov. 5.

Commissioner James Rosales, who Busselman asked be appointed county judge in his petition for removal, was the only commissioner who voted against the motion declaring no confidence in Busselman.
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