Commissioners turn up the heat on Dallas constable

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by BRETT SHIPP / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on February 23, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 23 at 7:30 PM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

DALLAS — First they spent $130,000 on a private investigation.

Now some Dallas County Commissioners are exploring ways to have Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes removed from office altogether.

Whether he stays or goes, this issue — not roads or bridges or jails — is consuming much of the county's business.

Cortes is the man some Commissioners seeming live to loathe. 

One of his top deputies, Lt. Howard Watson, is charged with sexual assault; another top deputy is being questioned by a criminal grand jury.

Commissioners have paid $130,000 for one private investigation report critical of Cortes, and are impatiently awaiting a second.

But Commissioners aren't stopping at that.

Dallas County Judge Jim Foster is leading the charge seeking to have Cortes removed from office over a laundry list of allegations.

"Retaliation against employees, official oppression, systemic corruption in the department... we need to get to the bottom of this and it has gone on too long," Foster said.

A News 8 investigation raised questions last fall about whether Cortes was using his employees to campaign for his reelection.

Last month we watched as his Deputy Watson pulled over and engaged a female motorist in his private car.

Cortes says all of this is nothing more than petty politics with the election only one week away.

Not so, says Judge Foster, who — by the way — is waging a re-election bid of his own.

"To me, it indicates he should be removed from office," Foster said.

So will Foster and other Commissioners seek to have Cortes removed?

That hasn't been decided yet, but Constable Cortes says he is meeting with his attorney to discuss having Foster removed from office as well.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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