MCKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) – A judge from Collin County has been indicted on six counts of bribery and, according to the indictment, she conspired with three others.
The indictment alleges that Judge Suzanne Wooten was engaged in organized criminal activity. Wooten’s attorney says that these allegations are a political vendetta.
Wooten was elected in 2008 and became the first judicial candidate to unseat an incumbent judge in Collin County. The indictment states that Wooten conspired with three other people to illegally funnel money to her campaign when she was running in the primary and the general elections.
According to the indictment, David Cary and Stacy Cary made out six checks payable to James Spencer, Wooten’s campaign manager, in return for favorable rulings in her court. But according to Peter Schulte, Wooten’s lawyer, those payments – totaling $150,000 – had nothing to do with the campaign. “The D.A. and the Attorney General’s Office has been using the shroud of secrecy around the grand jury, and have pretty much abused that process,” Schulte told CBS 11 News. “So, we’re actually looking forward to seeing what evidence they’ve manufactured in this case.”
“The two people that were named, Judge Wooten has never met,” Schulte said. “She’s never received campaign contributions from them. The names Dave and Stacy Cary didn’t come up until long after the election.”
Sources said that Wooten has been allowed to stay out of jail on a personal recognizance bond. Her lawyer said that Collin County District Attorney John Roach wrongfully spearheaded this investigation. Attempts to contact the District Attorney’s office for a comment were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Wooten is expected to be back in her courtroom on Monday.
Dallas attorney Tom Melsheimer said that the Friday indictment raises questions about whether or not Wooten can effectively serve on the bench while being accused. “The problem is, as a judge, you’re almost held to a higher standard in these sort of things,” Melsheimer said. “So, I think that it’s one thing to be charged with something and continue your job working at a filling station or working as a doctor. It’s a lot harder to be an effective jurist when you’re under indictment.”
“It’s a political vendetta that Judge Wooten,” Schulte started, “her only crime, if there is one, is that she defeated the first ever sitting District Judge in Collin County. It’s a ‘good old boy’ system, and how dare she, and they’re going to make her pay for it.”