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January 6, 2014

County attorneys request Tittle recuse himself from jail trial

Motion to recuse filed today with district clerk

GREENVILLE — Attorneys representing Hunt County in a lawsuit regarding the construction of the county jail filed a motion today requesting that 196th District Judge Steve Tittle recuse himself from the trial.

According to the motion, Hunt County attorneys received information indicating that the “impartiality of Judge Tittle might reasonably be questioned.”

Court Reporter Kelly Bryant, who previously worked for Tittle’s court, signed an affidavit alleging that Tittle told her “The (Hunt County) Commissioners are too stupid to understand they have a big lawsuit pending in my court, and they will pay one way or the other.”

Tittle has three days after receiving the motion from the district clerk to issue a judgment. If he decides not to recuse himself, Regional Administrative Judge Mary Murphy will assign another judge to review the motion.

The county’s attorneys are seeking to recover up to $30 million in damages from the litigation.

Hunt County formally filed suit against two Fort Worth firms in January 2009, accusing the engineers and architects behind the construction of the jail of failing to adhere to warnings the structure was being built on unstable soil.

The building has reportedly experienced numerous problems with cracks in the walls and other damage since shortly after it opened. The county was originally seeking up to $10 million in damages.

In May 2009, the Commissioners agreed to a $770,000 settlement with Burns Architecture Incorporated, the architects involved with the construction of the jail. The company was later dismissed from the suit, which remained pending against Frank W. Neal & Associates, the engineers involved.

The Herald-Banner erroneously reported that a court date had been set in September of this year. While attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant agreed to that date, a hearing has not been scheduled.

The rules regarding the recusal of a judge in a civil case are listed under Rule 18 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

 

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