SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Grassroots We the People Director, JoAnn Fleming, spoke today in regards to the internal audit that found eight prosecutors violated internal policy.
Fleming said the organization will stand by their endorsement of Smith County District Attorney candidate Jacob Putman.
Fleming spoke in the Smith County Commissioners Courtroom today and addressed the internal audit released Jan. 23 by Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham that showed nine prosecutors, including Putman, failed to get approval signatures on felony charges dropped during plea agreements. Putman's employment records, however, show no disciplinary actions.
Fleming said Putman's personnel file contained not one disciplinary action for the 9 years he has been in office. He has however won awards and received raises and has never had his salary lowered. Fleming added that Grassroots continues to endorse Putman and referred to the audit as "irrelevant."
"Without any evidence to back up Mr. Bingham's claims of past reprimands, but evidence that there were both conflicting and unenforced policies in the district attorney's office, Grassroots America discounts the entire internal audit…" Fleming said.
Fleming said her organization investigated the audit and the case of Dabrett Black, who allegedly shot and killed DPS Trooper Damon Allen in November. Putman was the prosecutor in a 2015 case against Black for assaulting a Smith County deputy. Under a plea agreement, Black was sentenced to 12 months in jail for that assault. A few months after his release, Black was arrested for ramming a Smith County deputy's vehicle while evading arrest.
"Justice of the Peace Mitch Shamburger, who was magistrating at the jail when Dabrett Black was brought in, admitted that he did not look up Dabrett Black's record to check for prior convictions before he sat Black's bond at $15,500. That is how Dabrett Black was back out on the street by July 31, 2017," Fleming said.
Putman said last week that he notified the Grand Jury "immediately" when he found out Black had reoffended, and the bond was raised.
Fleming also spoke about what she called "selective prosecution" in Smith County.
"Who you are, who you know and who your attorney is should not get you a special deal. All victims and their families need a fair chance to get justice."
Fleming referenced the case of Meraland Jackson, the wife of former Smith County Precinct 1 Henry Jackson.
Meraland Jackson was no-billed by a Smith County Grand Jury after shooting her husband and their 5-year-old granddaughter during a domestic disturbance. Despite confessing to police multiple times, Meraland Jackson was not indicted on any charges related to the shooting.
"This favoritism based on "elite status" for elected officials and their defense attorneys needs to end. We believe Jacob Putman will slam the door on that, which is part of the reason he's under so much fire now," Fleming said.
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