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Judge dismisses abuse of official capacity charges against former Wood County sheriff

Pictured is former Wood County sheriff James Brown. (Source: Wood County judicial records)
Pictured is former Wood County sheriff James Brown. (Source: Wood County judicial records)(Wood County judicial records)
Published: Jan. 7, 2020 at 9:52 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A district judge has dismissed two felony abuse of official capacity charges that were filed against former Wood County Sheriff James “Jim” Arthur Brown in connection with a shooting incident that occurred adjacent to his property in November 2015.

Judge Joe Clayton, who represented the 402nd Judicial District Court for this case, signed the order to dismiss prosecution against Brown on Dec. 31.

The order does not go into a great deal of detail. It simply says, “Wherefore, the court having considered attorney pro tem’s motion to dismiss prosecution in the above-entitled and numbered cause, said motion is hereby: granted, and the above-referenced case is dismissed.”

The abuse of official capacity charges against Brown were in the $2,500 to $30,000 range, according to Wood County court records.

However, four misdemeanor official oppression charges filed against Brown are still pending, according to online judicial records.

In his motion, Douglas Parks, Brown’s attorney, requested that the court dismiss the former sheriff’s indictment because Brown’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial was violated.

“The defendant allegedly committed the offense of abuse of official capacity on or about October 27, 2015,” Parks said in the motion. “Almost four years have elapsed since the indictment was returned. Neither defendant or defense counsel has committed any act or omission contributing to this delay.”

The motion argued that “post-accusation delay of 8 months or longer has been found to be presumptively prejudicial." It also cited a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals case, Clark v. State.

“The above-described delay is prejudicial to the defendant in that since the commencement of this action, the defendant has suffered much anxiety and concern regarding the outcome of the trial herein,” Parks said in the motion, which was filed on Sept. 26, 2019.

Brown was arrested on the charges on Nov. 1, 2017. He posted bail on a collective bond amount of $23,000 and was released from the jail later that day.

A Wood County grand jury indicted Brown on the charges in October of 2017. At the same time, then-Chief Deputy Miles Tucker was indicted on four counts of tampering with physical evidence, four charges of official oppression, and four charges of aggravated perjury.

The indictment stemmed from an incident that occurred near Brown’s private property in Wood County back in November of 2015. Two owners of a small East Texas oil field company were shot while attempting to gain access to an oil well they operate on land owned by Brown, who was sheriff at the time. The men were shot by Brown’s neighbor Jerry Boone, whose land the oil workers had to cross to access the well on Brown’s land. Boone was sentenced to concurrent sentences of five and two years for second-degree aggravated assault.

This was one of several altercations that allegedly occurred between the oilmen and Wood County law enforcement officers.

John Phillip Forrester and his son, John Winston Forrester, were shot while in possession of a restraining order giving them permission to access the well that is two miles north of Quitman, just off County Road 1326. John Phillip Forrester was shot in the leg, John Winston Forrester was shot in the lower back.

Two years after the shooting, Jerry Wayne Boone, the sheriff’s neighbor, was arrested. Boone was sent to prison in March of this year for the shooting and is serving a five-year and a two-year sentence concurrently.

Pictured is Jerry Boone (Wood County judicial records)
Pictured is Jerry Boone (Wood County judicial records)(Wood County judicial records)

Sources, including the two men who were shot, said at the time that the shooting happened at the direction of former sheriff Brown. According to Winston Forrester, Boone allegedly said Brown told him Boone could use “any force necessary” to keep the oil crew off their land.

After the shooting incident occurred, Brown declined KLTV’s request for comment. Instead, he commented on the incident in a Facebook post.

In the post, Brown said he is not corrupt and that the Forresters got equipment stuck in mud on their designated easement and rather than attempting to clear the access, the record will show that the persons, without any notice, began cutting the locks, removing gates on my property and letting my cows go astray.”

Previous stories: Texas Rangers investigating Wood County DA after allegation of official oppression

Wood County sheriff responds to allegations of involvement in land dispute, shooting

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