Case dismissed: Case for petition to remove county judge ends

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
The crowd of people who didn't get a seat in the courtroom to hear the judge's decision in the petition to remove Grayson County Judge Bill Magers on Friday.

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers will stay in office long enough to face the voters in the Republican Primary on March 1 after a petition to remove him was dismissed Friday.

Regional Administrative Judge Ray Wheless, who heard the case after district court judges in Grayson County recused themselves said that the statute cited in John Palmer's petition for removal was vague because it did not define intoxication. 

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The petition filed in December by John Palmer cited Section 87.013 of the Local Government Code as stating that being intoxicated is a general ground to use to remove a county official from office. The petition also said 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.

However, with Wheless' decision Friday regarding the vagueness of the statute, the case has been dismissed. It can not be appealed.

Palmer said he was not surprised by the verdict.

"Grayson County operates in a way that if you're in the good ole boy system, you get taken care of. And, if we as a county think it is OK for a sitting county judge to get his second DWI — his fourth, at least his fourth DWI arrest — and still have a job, that's insane. That's absolutely insane."

More:Petition filed to remove Grayson County Judge

Magers declined to comment about the ruling inside the courtroom Friday. 

Magers' attorney Joe Brown's statement said, "This whole removal action has been about politics, not about Judge Magers’ performance as County Judge. Judge Magers has been punished in the criminal system and through the state commission that disciplines judges. His political opponents have used the Katie Palmer tragedy to try to make people believe Judge Magers has some responsibility for that matter. It is a travesty that the Palmer family is being used in this way.

Mr. Palmer complains about the “Good Old Boy” network. Yet when outside judges and prosecutors are appointed, he complains about those people too, when the decision goes against him. Judge Wheless has no connection to this county."

Rhonda Nail holds up a photo of her daughter Katie Palmer at the door of the district courtroom where the hearing was held Friday in the attempt to remove Grayson County Judge Bill Magers from office.

Brown's statement also addressed the statute cited in the petition.

"There is no case on record where the law that was being used to try to remove Judge Magers had been used since 1878, so its constitutionality had never been considered," the statement said. "We did not argue that Judge Magers was not intoxicated. He was intoxicated, and he pled guilty to that under a criminal statute that clearly defined what intoxication was. This antiquated law that was used in this removal action did not do that, and that is a constitutional violation."

John Palmer speaks to reporters outside a district courtroom Friday after a judge dismissed his petition to remove Grayson County Judge Bill Magers from office.

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