Judge recuses himself in county judge removal case, new judge assigned

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
Gavel rests in front of justice scale and open law book.

A new judge has been assigned to the civil case filed to have the Grayson County Judge removed from office. Both parties in the case have asked to have a hearing about whether or not the case should move forward.

The petition filed in the 397th back on Dec.1 by John Palmer cites Section 87.013 of the Local Government Code that states being intoxicated is a general ground to remove a county judge for his office. The petition further states a district judge, under Section 87.017 of the Local Government Code, can suspend an official charged with an offense under Section 87.012 until a trial can be held.

More:Petition filed to remove Grayson County Judge

As proof for the request to have Grayson County Judge Bill Magers removed from office, the petition cites the fact Magers was arrested for a driving while intoxicated 2nd charge on Feb. 19, 2020 in Grayson County.

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers in a 2019 file photo

Magers pleaded guilty to that charge in June and was sentenced to 365 days in jail probated for 12 months. 

As conditions of that probation, Magers had to pay a $4,000 fine, do 200 hours of community service work at an organization like Mothers Against Drunk Driving or Four Rivers Outreach, maintain an interlock device on his vehicle and continue with outpatient DWI treatment including taking a monthly shot that helps curb alcohol cravings and inhibits intoxication.

Though the case was originally assigned randomly to the 397th state district court, the judge of that court, Brian Gary, asked to recuse himself from the case, and it was moved by the Chief Administrative Judge for the Regional Ray Wheless, to the 15th state district court.

No date for a hearing had been set as of Dec. 14.

More:County judge gets 12 months probation on DWI 2nd charge

Grayson County Justice Center

In a letter to Judge Wheless dated Dec. 7, Magers' attorney Joe Brown said, "As the Court is aware, the removal statute at issue in this case, under Chapter 87 of the Texas Local Government Code, grants the trial court discretion to either cause to issue, or refuse to issue, citation to the public official against whom the Petition for Removal is filed. The Texas Supreme Court has recognized the trial court's common-law power to dismiss at this early stage a removal petition filed for the purpose of political harassment."

Brown said Magers' defense team, which also includes Sherman attorney Bob Jarvis, is in the process of preparing a brief on the matter for the judge who will eventually hear the case but wanted time to offer that brief before the judge made any kind of ruling in the case.

In a motion filed on Dec. 10, Palmer, who is representing himself in the matter, also asked for a hearing on if and how the case should move forward. The petition and Brown's letter both reference the issuance of a citation in the case, which is just the process by which the case moves forward once a petition has been filed. 

Palmer is the widower of Katie Palmer a Denison school teacher who was struck and killed while the couple was on a walk in their neighborhood on the morning of April 21, 2020. John Palmer was hurt in the wreck as well. The man driving the vehicle that struck the Palmers was no billed or not indicted by a grand jury in August of that year. 

John Palmer stands with his mother-in-law Rhonda Dean Nail who holds a photo of Katie Palmer on the day John Palmer filed a petition to remove Grayson County Judge Bill Magers from office.