Williamson County business leaders stood outside the county courthouse Wednesday morning to deliver an ultimatum to District Attorney Jana Duty: resign or be forced out.
“I, along with other community leaders, demand that Jana Duty step down and resign her position as district attorney of Williamson County by sunset this Friday,” said Jim Schwertner, owner of Schwertner Farms, a cattle trading enterprise.
“If she does not, we will petition the court to have her removed as district attorney of Williamson County,” he said.
A group of about 20 people stood on the courthouse steps to show their support for Schwertner’s position.
Schwertner said he was asking for Duty’s resignation because of the recent sanction against her by the State Bar of Texas and also because she wasn’t showing up to work.
He said that Duty “admitted she was not truthful in statements she made to others, she admitted to violating a court order, she admitted to being dishonest and deceitful, and she admitted again knowingly making false statements to judges with reckless disregard for the truth.”
The State Bar put Duty on probation for 18 months beginning June 1 for unprofessional conduct.
“It has been reported by the (online blog) Wilco Report that Ms. Duty very seldom shows up to work after she lost this last election,” Schwertner said. “Who gave her the day off? We should expect all our elected officials to give our taxpayers a full day’s work for a full day’s pay.”
One of Duty’s supporters, Kim Polk, was at the news conference and defended her friend. Polk said no one there had any proof that Duty wasn’t showing up to work. Polk said Duty didn’t have to be sitting at her desk to be doing her job.
“She’s an extremely hard worker and always has been,” Polk said.
Duty, who wasn’t at the news conference, didn’t respond to a request for comment. She told the American-Statesman on Tuesday, after the news conference was scheduled, that she had no plans to resign. Duty lost her bid for re-election in the Republican primaries in March. Her term expires at the end of the year.
Schwertner couldn’t immediately point to a provision in state law that would support the effort to remove Duty from her elected office, but he said that his lawyer would know on what basis a lawsuit against Duty could be filed. His lawyer, Brian Bishop, didn’t return a request for comment.
Justice of the Peace Bill Gravell also spoke at the news conference and said that Duty “has largely been absent from her post.”
“This makes doing my job as a judge in the community more challenging and very difficult to serve the people of Williamson County effectively,” Gravell said.
Gravell said nine prosecutors have resigned since Duty took office, including seven she appointed.
In an email Wednesday evening, Duty said three prosecutors had left the office since she lost the election, and that she has since hired three replacements.
Polk said those who took part in the news conference didn’t speak for the residents of Williamson County who elected Duty.
Betty Schleder, a Sun City resident who came to the news conference, said she supported Schwertner.
“We have a district attorney who lacks integrity, period,” Schleder said.