Judge drops deputies' action against Dallas county constable

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by KEVIN KRAUSE

The Dallas Morning News

Posted on May 13, 2010 at 2:54 PM

DALLAS - An attempt by some Dallas County deputy constables to remove their boss, Jaime Cortes, from office with a civil action was dismissed this afternoon by a judge due to the constable's announcement that he will step down in 60 days.

The district attorney's office, which by law is responsible for prosecuting the removal petition against Cortes, agreed not to pursue the case given Cortes' planned resignation on July 13, which he announced late Wednesday.

The deputies who brought the case earlier this year, however, wanted the DA disqualified from the case due to a conflict of interest so an outside prosecutor could come in and try to have Cortes removed sooner.

The deputies – Lupe Frias, Lois Martin and Les Willie – as well as county officials are concerned that Cortes will spend his remaining time in office trying to find ways to retaliate against those who brought complaints against him.

County Judge Jim Foster said he and some of the county commissioners are looking into the possibility of assigning a monitor to Cortes' Precinct 5 office to provide oversight and prevent the outgoing constable from taking action against employees.

"The employees shouldn't have to contend with this continued retaliation," he said. "We will do whatever it takes to stop it."

Cortes said late Wednesday that he needed more time to wrap up investigations of some employees.

F. Benjamin Riek III, the lawyer who filed the removal petition on behalf of the deputies, said he couldn't understand why the DA's Office would agree to leave Cortes in office for another 60 days due to numerous employee complaints about retaliation.

Frias has complained to county officials that the retaliation has already begun. He told them he was recently transferred from the traffic division to be a court bailiff, a less desirable assignment. Frias also told county officials he was suspended for two weeks over a flat tire.

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