Motion filed to remove DA from constable case

Photo courtesy Ellis County District Attorney.
Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson.

ELLIS COUNTY — Mark Griffith, attorney for Ellis County Precinct 4 Constable Mike Jones, filed a motion with the 443rd Judicial District Court of Ellis County on Tuesday, March 7 to request that Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson be disqualified from the case against Jones based on bias and a conflict of interest.

Wilson had previously filed a motion with the court on Monday, February 27 asking the judge to temporarily remove Jones from office pending trial for official misconduct in which Wilson's office is prosecuting Jones for. Jones has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Wilson is asking a judge to, "temporarily suspend Michael Wade Jones from the position of Constable, Precinct #4, of Ellis County, Texas, and to appoint a temporary replacement."

Despite Jones having not had a trial yet nor no guilty judgement being rendered, Wilson claims that Jones "has engaged in conduct and behavior in a deliberate, intentional and willful manner as would constitute official misconduct and incompetency."

Griffith states in his motion, "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. He has 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 also provided exhibits that show personal email exchanges between Ellis County Judge Bush and Wilson dating back to December 10, 2015 regarding Jones, which was before any investigation into Jones had commenced.

"Further, attached as EXHIBIT B, and made a part of this Motion for all purposes, is a personal e-mail from the County Judge to Patrick Wilson regarding some personal problem a citizen had with the Defendant. Further evidence of a bias against Mike Jones by Patrick Wilson. This, again, makes Patrick Wilson a witness in the criminal case for his motive to proceed with prosecution of 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 & County Attorney's Office," Griffith wrote.

"Further, attached as EXHIBIT C, and made a part of this Motion for all purposes, is a personal e-mail, not dealing with county business, from Patrick Wilson to the County Judge, Carol Bush indicating his please that the Defendant is receiving bad process in the Star Telegram. This again goes towards Mr. Wilson's bias towards this prosecution of the Defendant and makes him a witness as towards that bias."

Griffith provided another email exchange between Wilson and Bush regarding a citizen complaint against Jones' Facebook posts. He also included an email Wilson sent to Texas Ranger Adam Sweeney claiming Jones was a threat to Bush which Griffith states is another example of bias against Jones.

In Wilson's motion to remove Jones from office, he claims that a citizen of Ellis County appeared in his office on February 9, 2016 to file a complaint against Jones and provided the DA purchasing records from Ellis County, copies of Jones' campaign finance reports and screen shots from Jones' social media pages."

The allegations were that Jones was using county resources for his re-election campaign to create t-shirts and decals.

Wilson wrote, "After investigating the matter that was first reported to my office by an Ellis County citizen on February 9, 2016, I was satisfied that, while Constable Jones' use of public money to purchase equipment and supplies for the making of decals and t-shirts for a two-person office could certainly be questions from a practical standpoint, that use did not violate any laws. At that time I was further satisfied that Jones had separately purchased the equipment and supplies which he used to manufacture the t-shirts and decals he produced for the benefit of his political campaign."

However, Wilson went on to say that an email that Jones provided to show he had not used county resources for the decals or t-shirts was sent to a merchandising vendor from his county email address.

"The email provided by Jones proves that Jones used his county email to conduct personal and political campaign business, and that he may have used his status as a tax-exempt elected office holder to benefit his political campaign. That email further triggered further investigation by my office," Wilson wrote.

Wilson also cited additional instances where Jones had used his county email address to forward voter lists, spreadsheets and invoices related to his campaign as well as used his county computer and cell phone for the benefit of his political campaign.

The DA's office took possession of Jones' county computers and cell phone on May 3, 2016. Jones was indicted on May 11, 2016 on a Class A Misdemeanor and official misconduct charge.

Griffith contends in his motion to disqualify Wilson from handling the case against Jones that Wilson has also used county resources for campaign purposes.

"Counsel for 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 the e-mails he sends on public computers to have the person opening the e-mail violate the actual policy under which the Defendant is being indicted. 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 shown through these exhibits that prohibits the Defendant from receiving due process or due course of law if the Ellis County & District Attorney's office is allowed to continue to prosecute this case," Wilson wrote.

Ellis County Citizen has been in the process of investigating Wilson's use of county resources for political campaign purposes and will have documents available next week.

Jones was also indicted on a felony charge for allegedly tampering with evidence. The DA's office sent Jones' cell phone to a forensic laboratory for analysis.

"In October 2016, my office was notified by the forensic laboratory that Constable Jones' Ellis County-issued iPhone had been remotely erased, and all data on the phone had been deleted," Wilson wrote.

"On December 6, 2016, in response to a lawfully executed search warrant, Apple provided my office with the exact date and time on which Jones' Ellis County-issued iPhone was remotely erased through the company's iCloud. Apple also provided the internet protocol (IP) address from which the command to remotely erase the iPhone was sent."

Apple provided the DA's office with information that showed the data on the phone had been remotely deleted on May 3, 2016. After receiving information provided by AT&T through a search warrant on January 18, Wilson states the IP address used to delete the phone data was assigned to Jones' physical home address.

Jones was indicted a second time on February 8 for third degree felony of tampering with evidence.

Furthermore, Wilson claims that Jones has not performed all of his duties as Constable.

"In addition to the official misconduct described herein, Michael Wade Jones has demonstrated incompetence in his role as Constable, Precinct #4, of Ellis County, Texas. He has willfully refused to perform all of the functions of the office since February 16, 2017 by not executing any civil or criminal process in his precinct. Further, he has also failed to attend any session of justice court in Precinct #4 of Ellis County, Texas, in 2017, in violation of Section 86.021 Texas Local Government Code," Wilson wrote.

Wilson recused himself from previous investigations of elected officials

Wilson has recused himself from previous conflicts of interest in regard to complaints and investigations into other Ellis County elected officials.

When Ellis County Citizen publisher Dave Vance tried to file a criminal complaint against Judge Carol Bush in July 2014 for filing false affidavits and improperly receiving state supplement funds, the DA's office referred Vance to the Texas Rangers and a special prosecutor was appointed. The special prosecutor declined to file charges based on a lack of evidence despite a public admission by Bush.

When two Ellis County Commissioners were accused in March 2016 of exceeding purchases for road sealant without sending the purchases out for bid, Wilson recused himself and a special prosecutor was appointed. The special prosecutor found no intentional wrongdoing and no charges were filed.

"Further, in an investigation against two County Commissioners Mr. Wilson saw enough conflict due to the people being investigated to ask for an attorney pro tem. Not asking for one in this case is further evidence of his bias and personal animosity towards this particular Defendant as compared to other elected officials who have been investigated. It should also be high-lighted that his office is filing suit to get him out of his duly elected office which is further evidence of his bias towards the defendant along with the County Judge, Carol Bush, who will be called as a witness in any trial that may occur in this case," Griffith wrote.

When the Ellis County Sheriff was accused of assaulting an individual on New Year's Day when he walked into a fight in progress, Wilson recused himself and a special prosecutor was appointed.

Griffith plans to call Wilson and Bush as witnesses during trial.

"In light of the foregoing principles, designed to insure a defendant a fair trial, the testimony of Patrick Wilson will be necessary at trial with regard malicious prosecution issues, retaliation issues, and a general conspiracy to put the Defendant out of his duly elected office, a place the District Attorney clearly never wanted him based on the exhibits contained herein," Griffith said.

Click here to read both motions with exhibits in full (personal email addresses, telephone numbers and addresses have been redacted).