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Burnet County Judge James Oakley is back on the job after the State Commission on Judicial Conduct lifted his suspension on Friday, Sept. 1. He was suspended without pay on March 10 after a grand jury handed down an indictment on four charges — three misdemeanors and one felony — on March 7. Three of those charges were quashed but are on appeal

A district court jury found him not guilty on Thursday, Aug. 31, of the other charge, a Class B misdemeanor for misuse of government property. The verdict prompted the suspension removal.

“I will be at the (Burnet County Courthouse) Tuesday morning and look forward to a series of debriefing meetings on any (county business) items that have developed over the last 5½ months,” Oakley said in a texted statement to at midday Friday. “I’m certainly ready for a sense of normalcy.”

Visiting District Judge Dib Waldrib quashed three of the charges against Oakley, including the felony, on July 10. District Attorney Wiley “Sonny” McAfee appealed that decision on July 12.

A six-person jury for the case of the State of Texas v. James Oakley was seated in Johnson City on Tuesday with Judge Waldrip presiding. The Class B misdemeanor charge stemmed from Oakley driving a county-owned vehicle to Pedernales Electric Cooperative board meetings on at least six occasions between March 2021 and March 2023.

Oakley is a member of the PEC Board of Directors as well as county judge. Both positions are elected. According to the Burnet County Employee Handbook, county officials issued government vehicles cannot use them to drive to a second, non-county job. 

The jury came back with a unanimous decision of not guilty after hearing three prosecution witnesses and one defense witness

The state commission’s order lifting Oakley’s suspension was signed at 10:30 a.m. by Chairman Gary L. Steel. It was sent to the county judge in care of his attorney, John Carsey of Allison, Bass & Magee LLP of Austin. Copies were also sent to DA McAfee, Burnet County Attorney Eddie Arredondo, 33rd District Court coordinator Lisa Bell, Burnet County Clerk Vicinta Stafford, County Treasurer Karrie Crownover, and County Auditor Karin Smith.