Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 11, 2013

DPS confirms investigation on Fletcher

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

CHEROKEE COUNTY — The Texas Rangers recently were asked to investigate former County At law Judge Craig Fletcher through a special prosecutor with the district attorney's office, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.

However, authorities remained mum Wednesday as to the reasons behind the investigation, which led to the abrupt and unexpected Monday resignation of the seven-year judge.

Trooper Jean Dark, DPS public information officer in the Tyler District, said after the Texas Rangers conducted the investigation on Fletcher, they immediately turned the results over to the Texas Attorney General's Office.

“They took it from there,” Dark said. “That is basically all the information we have.”

Other authorities have side-stepped the possibility of an investigaiton on Fletcher since his

resignation.

"There are no charges to be made here, no grand jury setting, etc., and we can't comment further because of that," Tom Kelley, a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General's Office, said in a Dec. 9 email. "Perhaps Mr. Fletcher will (comment). That would be up to him."

When Kelley was contacted a second time to clarify the type of investigation had been conducted on Fletcher, he declined to address the issue at all.

"We're not commenting," he said. "That matter is closed. Sorry."

Fletcher is certainly not talking about the investigation. He has not answered requests for comment made through both his office and his Facebook account.

Why Fletcher resigned — whether it was a reaction to the investigation or some other reason — remained a mystery Wednesday.

The former judge did not appear in Commissioners Court on Monday, but after his

resignation letter was read into the record, he was almost immediately replaced by Cherokee County Attorney Kelley Peacock. The appointment that has raised many

eyebrows given Peacock's lack of judicial experience.

 A call to the Texas Rangers about a possible investigation was deferred to the Texas Department of Public Safety Public Information Office and again deferred to Texas DPS Sgt. Lonny Haschel, the PIO commenting on the Fletcher matter. Haschel did not respond, but the call ultimately was returned by Trooper Dark.

Officials such as Peacock, County Judge Chris Davis and Precinct 3 Cherokee County Commissioner Katherine W. Pinotti also have said they do not know why Fletcher resigned.

Pinotti abstained from the vote to appoint Peacock in protest and was one of the most vocal critics of the action taken by her fellow commissioners.  

She questioned why the county commissioners court felt any need to appoint her so quickly, as a substitute judge, Jerry Calhoon, senior judge of the 349th District Court, had already been appointed to cover the responsibilities of the court by Mary Murphy, presiding judge of the First Administrative judicial region.