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3 of 4 Oakley charges sent back to DA for more research

Burnet County Courthouse Annex in Burnet, Texas

At a pretrial hearing in the Burnet County Courthouse Annex on Texas 29 in Burnet, a visiting judge sent three of four charges against Burnet County Judge James Oakley back for more research before deciding on a motion from the defense to quash. He denied the motion to quash on one of the charges, sending it forward for trial. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

A motion to quash an indictment against Burnet County Judge James Oakley was denied on one charge, while three other charges were sent back to District Attorney Sonny McAfee for more research. District Judge Dib Waldrip made the ruling at a pre-trial hearing in district court in Burnet on Monday, April 24. 

Waldrip is the 433rd judicial district judge in Comal County and the 3rd administrative judicial region judge. He stepped in to oversee the case after 33rd District Judge J. Allan Garrett and 424th District Judge Evan Stubbs both recused themselves.

McAfee has until May 5 to submit his research to the judge on any case law dealing with similar charges for counts 1, 3, and 4. Oakley’s attorney, John Carsey of Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey PC in Austin, will have until May 10 to respond. No additional hearing dates were set as Judge Waldrip said he most likely would rule based on the submitted written material. 

Carsey said he might ask for another hearing on other issues.

“I need to look at discovery and see if there are any other pre-trial issues that come up,” he told the judge. “I don’t know yet.” 

Monday’s pre-trial hearing, the second in the case, was to deal with legal motions concerning the charging instruments. 

“It has nothing to do with guilt or innocence or facts but whether the state has properly presented what they have to present to charge someone,” Carsey told DailyTrib.com after the hearing. 

The indictment against Oakley originally consisted of four separate charges, or counts:

  • Count 1— Abuse of Official Capacity related to holding a paid position as both county judge and Pedernales Electric Cooperative director (misdemeanor).
  • Count 2 — Abuse of Official Capacity related to using a county-owned vehicle to attend several PEC meetings (misdemeanor).
  • Count 3 — A third-degree felony charge of tampering with/fabricating physical evidence with intent to impair related to moving a bumper after an April 2021 traffic accident in Spicewood. 
  • Count 4 — Official Oppression charges that allege Oakley subjected one of the people involved in the accident “to mistreatment that the Defendant (Oakley) knew was unlawful” by moving the bumper (misdemeanor).

At the first pre-trial hearing on April 3, Waldrip dismissed the fourth count. The district attorney split the charge in two and refiled it. Those two counts deal with an official oppression charge concerning the Spicewood accident and are now part of a different charge.

If the judge quashes the remaining charges, McAfee could file an appeal, the judge pointed out. 

Waldrip then asked both parties their opinions on the most efficient way to proceed, suggesting he could quash the indictment and let McAfee appeal. 

“The most efficient way is to let a jury decide,” McAfee responded. 

“It’s more efficient to grant the motion to quash,” Carsey said.

The judge then asked Oakley’s attorney if he would prefer the DA consolidate all charges into one trial or hold separate trials. 

“We have not thought about that,” Carsey said. “I want to see what happens here today. I want to point out that there are two counts involving PEC and two involving the accident. In that regard, they are apples and oranges and may require separate trials. If it’s confusing to me, it’s going to be confusing to a jury.”

After about an hour and 45 minutes in the hearing, the judge sent McAfee and Assistant DA Blake Ewing back to the books to research case law.

suzanne@thepicayune.com

3 thoughts on “3 of 4 Oakley charges sent back to DA for more research

  1. It’s appropriate that you must navigate to the Crime & Courtroom section of the Daily Trib to read this story and others about our “leadership”. It’s been this way for quite some time now.

    Damage to one’s “reputation” is self-inflicted. There is a track record we can look back on that hints this is not over yet.

    I hate to admit it but I find laughter & entertainment in some of this and embarrassment for my county in the rest of it. More is likely coming!

    Where are the rest of the cheerleaders?

  2. I am so disappointed in this total waste of time and money. All of the charges against Oakley are a joke. This is purely a political ploy to find a way to damage Oakley. Sonny, you should be ashamed.

  3. Let’s not forget that our esteemed DA is in BIG TROUBLE, and hopefully spends time in jail. Violated a man’s right in Blanco County. Probably would be a VERY smart idea to drop this.

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