A County Judge Should Uphold the Law and do the right thing
Calling out Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers Hypocrisy AGAIN-RESPONSIBILITY of Commissioners Court
8 December 2019 at 1:22:49 PM
Updated: Because Somervell County Commissioners and Judge Danny Chambers have NOT done the right thing, Paul Harper has now sent notice to file suit.12/17/2019) I'm guessing that even though Somervell County raised taxes on Somervell County residents, they aren't responsible enough not to rack up more charges in fighting a lawsuit by Harper that simply wants to collect on the judgment he is owed by Andrew Lucas actions, all while the judgment acrues more interest charges while unpaid, not to mention more court costs and attorney fees. Close your eyes and imagine if this were YOU, that you were attacked by a frivolous lawsuit and when the perpetrators repeatedly lost, you had to fight them AGAIN to get recompensed for a judgment made by a district judge.
AND Harper WON and the judgment repeatedly went against the State of Texas because, as the Texas Supreme Court said ""the state should not be suing to prevent its own citizens from participating in government- especially when it lacks even a prima facie case against them". . Lucas testified at a deposition in May of 2019 that he kept Judge Danny Chambers informed. BUT Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers didn't keep the county commissioners informed, apparently, or if he did, he did it by violating the Texas Open Meetings Act, since there were no public meetings about this case until AFTER IT WAS OVER, and the State of Texas LOST AGAIN. (Maybe he had cozy little chats with individual commissioners in his office). Somervell County Commissioners have been paying for the attorney C Alfred MacKenzie, to the tune of around $25,000, who Somervell County Attorney Lucas hired to represent HIM as the State of Texas in Lucas many failed appeals. So the county commissioners KNEW that they were responsible for State of Texas bills with regard to this lawsuit or at least if they are to be considered as responsible stewards of the taxpayer budget, they should have known. But Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers never scheduled a meeting to discuss (there is a saying about mushrooms that includes keeping them in the dark and feeding them chit). At least, I am not aware of any meetings; I asked Michelle Reynolds, as well as two of the county commissioners about this. One said he knew about the case through it being talked about in the halls. And forget the commissioners for a moment, who may have wanted a veneer of deniability, but not having meetings at commissioners court also did not responsibly keep the public informed about an issue that could potentially affect their taxes. Are there other issues that Chambers knows about that he is not pushing for commissioner meetings about in order to keep them secret?
The first meeting that Somervell County Commissioners Court even had on this was AFTER Paul Harper, who after 5 years of continually winning, went to them to pay the judgment owed to him in November 2019. Did this mean there was NO information given to the commissioners? Of course not. Look at this video of Danny Chambers, Andy Lucas and some assorted others, to include Ron Hankins getting ready to meet after a commissioners court meeting, then one hour later Lucas filed to appeal his loss to the Texas Supreme Court. Chambers had told a friend of mine that he was going to put his foot down after Lucas lost at the 10th court of appeals the 2nd time and not let him go to the Texas Supreme Court, but did he? Nope, but it shows that he knew the county was responsible. Why would he even do that if he believed that the State of Texas at the comptroller's office was responsible?
I have no idea why elected officials who swore, in their oath of office to uphold the law, are not immediately making this right, especially since Somervell County taxpayers will pay accumulated interest on the judgment every day that Somervell County puts off paying it. So I guess Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers and the commissioners care about raising YOUR taxes but they don't want to be responsible for adding more to the amount once push comes to shove. And why they would thihk Harper, who fought on principle against what Lucas was doing would not continue to do so, since he is the winner in this case and Lucas is the loser, is a mystery.
Now listen to something Somervell County Judge Danhy Chambers said at the time all this was going on.
Luminant filed two lawsuits against us which owner of the power plant, they paid 78 percent of our taxes here in Somervell County. They filed two lawsuits, one a bankruptcy, one local last September. Brian, if I get any of this wrong you correct me. They've already lost twice. We had a final judgment on May 4, I believe it was. They lost again. They refuse to pay their taxes. They have it in appeals court in Waco, I'm told that March is even the earliest it can even be heard. Probably later in the year as far as 2015. It's more likely September or October of 2017 before we hear what they're going to do about 2015. During that process, they went out and spent 1.5 billion dollars cash on two gas power plants, natural gas. So it's not that they can't pay their taxes, it's that they won't pay their taxes.
Absurd? Yes, it's absurd. If anybody's there from Luminant, I don't mean to offend you, but what we're going through sucks. They should pay up. We all do. Everyone of us that owns in this room, we pay our taxes we'd a been locked down and auctioned off our property. But they've got deep pockets and they're going to keep fighting and they'll try to crush us as best they possibly can.
Now, the exact same principle applies here and this is about following the law and respecting a judgment that went, repeatedly, against the State of Texas, as represented by Andy Lucas in the State of Texas ex rel Best v Harper case. The case is over, after having been appealed BY LUCAS to the Texas Supreme Court. Lucas decided NOT to appeal the final judgment at the District Court level , when the case came back down, for atty fees, court costs and sanctions that were ruled upon at the local District. So it's over and if Somervell County Attorney Andy Lucas had a problem with the judgment amounts he should have appealed. He didn't. And now it's been over 5 years that this case, now done, has been going on. So, the responsibiilty lies, first, with Lucas for his discretionary actions in taking on a case he didn't even bother to investigate to see if it was 1. Also, this judgment is not a surprise to Chambers. I saw him at the final judgment hearing sitting in the audience with a pad and pencil in his lap, presumably writing down the amounts. Let me point out again from this link with video of Andy Lucas saying that "I've kept the county judge updated on the progress of the suit so he's aware at each stage what's going on" -go watch!
But the State of Texas is not jumping up to pay what they owe and guess what, the Texas Attorney General's office said that it's the county that pays it. Why do I know that? Because Lucas told Paul's attorney that he needed something to show the commissioners that the county had to pay. Paul's attorney got the paper within about a week. Have the commissioners, who right now are Wade Busch, Dwayne Johnson, Larry Hulsey and Kenneth Wood, held a vote in a meeting to pay it? Nope. (Although there's some question about whether they actually did make a decision inside a closed session, violating TOMA) Why not? Surely Danny Chambers, who was all upset over the fact that Luminant lost and wasn't paying up, isn't trying to have a double standard when a case that he KNEW about for years came to an end? The entire case by the State of Texas was a SLAPP suit . Danny Chambers swore when he took his oath of office to "Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitituon and laws of the United States and of this State". I'm willing to bet that the commissioners took the same oath of office.
Well, why isn't he doing that? Was his taking the oath of office a joke? He's a JUDGE and you know that if he has to rule against somebody for something, that one has to pay up or go to jail. For people to truly have respect for a JUDGE, they have to feel that he is upholding the law and seeking justice and especially for those who have been unfairly sued by the State. Otherwise, it looks like he has a standard for himself and another for the citizens of this county.
. It's a hypocritical double standard and Danny Chambers needs to do the RIGHT THING and put paying the judgment for Paul Harper on the Commissioners Court agenda right away.