I’d almost forgotten about this.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could result in her ouster from office.
The trial, set to start Monday in Austin before a visiting judge from San Antonio, stems from Lehmberg’s drunken driving arrest in April. She pleaded guilty within days, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and took a leave of absence to check into rehab. Lehmberg, who a year ago had been elected overwhelmingly to a second four-year term, then returned to her job.
But a petition seeking her removal was filed by Austin attorney Kerry O’Brien under a state law that allows the removal of elected officials for “incompetency,” ”official misconduct” or “intoxication on or off duty caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage.” Anyone living in a county for six months can file a petition there.
“I think the integrity of the office is compromised as long as she is there,” O’Brien told the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/1jAC93L ).
State District Court Judge David Peeples, who has handled several removal cases in South Texas, will rule in Lehmberg’s case after she waived her right to a jury trial. His decision could come by the end of the week.
Lehmberg could appeal a finding against her, and Peeples also would have to decide if she could remain in office while appealing.
See here and here for some background. I’ve kind of lost track of the minutiae here since it’s mostly the Statesman that’s reporting on this and most of their stuff is behind a paywall these days, but I gather that Lehmberg waived her right to a jury trial, so Judge Peeples will render the verdict. That said, they are putting daily updates on the trial on their free site. Here’s Monday’s report, and here’s Tuesday’s. I get the impression the judge is not terribly moved by the prosecution’s arguments so far, but we’ll know soon enough.