Petition against Judge Baker stopped to make way for AG case

Local News
JOEL BAKER_1466206422748.jpg

A petition filed by an East Texas watchdog group to remove Smith County Judge Joel Baker will be stopped, per court documents.

A declination to issue citation was entered in the 7th District Court Thursday by Attorney Pro Tem Jim Parsons.

“The circumstances arising since my appointment have mooted the issues raised in the petition. The ends of justice would not be served by the issuance of citation in the cause.”

Parsons declined to comment on the filing and directed KETK to the document field. He was appointed to the case when Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham recused himself.

According to Grassroots America We The People (GAWTP) spokeswoman JoAnn Fleming, the declination of citation means their suit against Baker will be halted while the attorney general’s case proceeds. This will allow the state to not spend unnecessary money on two trials about the same issue.

Fleming stated their attorney will file a nonsuit with prejudice to agree to suspend their petition.

Baker turned himself in on June 17 for three counts of violating the Closed Meetings Act. Those charges will be prosecuted by the AG’s office.

If convicted, Baker will be removed from office. If Baker is found innocent, GAWTP will re-file their petition on the sexting cause in their initial filing.

The Smith County judge issued a statement following his arrest last week and claimed the matter was a “political witch hunt.”

“I look forward to producing the true facts to a jury. I am confident a jury will find these charges to be frivolous,” Baker stated.

On Tuesday, Judge Baker was suspended without pay by the State Commission of Judicial Conduct.

The group who had petitioned the removal of Baker, GAWTP, said the suspension was the right thing to do.

“Although it is an uncommon development in government – and even rarer for our community – Grassroots America believes the State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s immediate suspension of Judge Joel P. Baker without pay is justified and right for the people of Smith County.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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