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Are politics at play in possibility of removing Eversole?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Jerry Eversole submitted his resignation letter on Monday.  His resignation is effective October 1. Legal analyst Joel Androphy

We have an In Focus follow up to our report on the county attorney and indicted Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole. Yesterday we showed you why the county attorney says he can't take action to remove Eversole from office. Today we've found out the explanation may not be so strong.

Overnight our legal analyst researched the surprising change of direction on County Attorney Vince Ryan's part. For months, his assistant said they were looking into removing Eversole from office. Last night, Ryan said he can't do that. Today, KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy questioned the county attorney's decision.

Eversole hasn't been convicted of anything, but he's charged with taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. His last jury hung, and facing another trial soon, he continues to say he did nothing wrong.

All the evidence in the trial showed Eversole was engaged in the alleged bribery conspiracy from 2000 to 2007. That's long before his most recent re-election, which Ryan says wipes his slate clean.

"They cannot be removed from office for those prior acts," Ryan told us.

Even though the indictment was a secret until after the election and even though no one reported the allegations before the election, Ryan interprets Texas law as tying his hands in a removal.

"The statutes are real clear in Texas that for acts that occurred prior to his election, he can't be removed from office," Ryan said.

"The legal interpretation is more of an excuse than real interpretation of what the law means," said Androphy.

We asked our legal analyst to look back at years of Texas law to see if he agreed with Ryan's analysis. He doesn't.

"If you want to be aggressive, you have the opportunity to remove Eversole. If you want an excuse not to do it, there is some argument why you could back off," Androphy said.

Androphy suspects this is a political argument as much as a legal one and when politicians, even ones from different parties as Ryan and Eversole are, have to work together, it makes it hard for one to go after the other.

"We're talking about politics, and politics trumps the law," said Androphy.

We talked with Ryan again today. He said politics have nothing to do with his decision.

A federal judge ordered a new trial for Eversole today, but has not picked a date. We'll let you know as soon as he does so stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com.

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