WAXAHACHIE

The Ellis County and District Attorney's Office has recused itself from a pending criminal trial that alleges a county constable abused his official capacity and made threats against a potential witness.

The move has put a hold on the criminal trial for Ellis County Constable Mike Jones, which was scheduled to begin Monday. A petition filed Wednesday also aims to remove Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson from his office.

The decision to recuse came after Jones' attorney, Mark Griffith, filed motions with the Ellis County District Clerk's Office that state Wilson's office monitored his client’s county email without a warrant. The motion notes some of the emails monitored included attorney-client communications.

The trickle-down effect of the petitions and recusal have Dallas judge Kieth Dean searching for a new special prosecutor in the criminal case against Jones, while judge Ray Wheless, First Administrative Judicial Region, plans to select a separate special prosecutor to investigate Griffith's allegations against Wilson.

Griffith stated he couldn't comment on the case because of a court order.

Ann Montgomery, one of the assistant county and district attorneys, stated the office is confident that an independent review of the facts would show that there was no basis for the complaint.

"Last week, a criminal defense attorney, who has a longstanding and well-documented vendetta against the Ellis County and District Attorney's Office, made allegations against this office," Montgomery said. "As soon as the allegations were made known to him, District Attorney Patrick Wilson fulfilled his ethical obligation to step aside, and he formally asked that a judge assign an outside prosecutor to review the complaint."

Montgomery added the independent review process is underway at this time.

Wilson previously told the Daily Light that a county employee should not expect privacy when it comes to a county-issued email account. He noted the emails in questions could be obtained through a public information request, as well.

PETITION TO REMOVE

Dan Gus first represented Jones during his civil trial, which resulted in the Ellis County constable being cleared of all charges by a jury of his peers and later reinstated to his post.

Gus has since joined to assist Griffith in the criminal proceedings.

Gus previously stated while the county's computer servers stored his client's emails, the district attorney’s office is not the custodian of those records. Because of that, Gus has filed a petition to remove Wilson from his post as the county and district attorney. The petition, which was filed Wednesday, cites Wilson and his office obtained the emails without a warrant and also claims Wilson and Ellis County Judge Carol Bush carried out a political vendetta against Jones.

Jones currently still faces criminal charges of tampering with physical evidence, abuse of official capacity, misuse of official information, retaliation and deadly conduct. These charges are related to alleged actions taken by Jones during his re-election campaign for the constable’s office.

Following the "not true" verdict found by the jury after his civil trial, Jones told the Daily Light the District Attorney's Office wants "me to quit. They want me to resign, and it will all go away. That is what they told Dan [Gus]. I am not doing it. I will go in with my head up and look people in the eye. The jury of my peers will make that determination. Not the DA’s office.”

No new date for the trial had been set as of press time.

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Additional reporting by Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith, (469) 517-1470

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