CHEROKEE COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Tuesday, a new Cherokee County Judge was sworn in after the sitting judge resigned following a Texas Rangers investigation. County Court at Law Judge Craig Fletcher turned in his resignation and announced he would not be seeking re-election.
Judge Fletcher's resignation was effective Monday. His letter was simple, stating "I have made a decision, after much prayer and discussion with family, to not seek re-election."
However, the reasons behind his resignation are neither simple nor clear.
"Department of Public Safety Rangers were asked by the district attorney's office to look into the judge's office there in Cherokee County. They did do that. They concluded their investigation and turned the information from that investigation over to the attorney general's office," says DPS Trooper Jean Dark.
The Attorney General's Office says their investigation is closed and no charges have been filed. Still, the county had an empty bench to fill and they did it faster than precinct three commissioner Katherine Pinotti thinks they should have.
"It was on the agenda to discuss personnel problems, but I had no clue that we would be actually interviewing candidates for an appointment to that position," says Pinotti.
An agenda from Monday's meeting says nothing about that appointment.
"I'm just one vote, and I really wish the court would be more transparent with their actions and stop with this sneaky business behind closed doors all of the time," Pinotti says.
Behind closed doors the court interviewed multiple candidates for the position. One of them was Daniel Boone Childs who occupied the bench once before.
"I had no idea that they were going to call me in there. I didn't expect them to appoint somebody immediately because it wasn't on the agenda," says Childs, who is also running for County Court at Law Judge.
Kelley Peacock was appointed Monday and sworn in Tuesday. She says her appointment was nothing more than the county fulfilling their duties.
"I think that the people that were interested came forward and the commissioners did their due diligence, picked who was their best candidate and I'm glad it was me," she says.
Peacock acknowledges that there has been some controversy about her appointment because some of the cases that will be brought before her court were filed by her office. However, she says County Judge Chris Davis is qualified to preside over those cases in her place.
There were also concerns that by appointing Peacock, the commissioner's court was endorsing one candidate over the others, but Peacock says when she was appointed, she wasn't technically a candidate because she had not filed to run for county court at law judge. But, she did end up submitting that paperwork for the upcoming election before Tuesday's 6 p.m. deadline.
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