We all know it is illegal for judges to sign off on another’s cases after oral judgments, even when they claim it was by “mistake” in the Tyler Court of Appeals. This has been done thousands of times between the 2nd Judicial District and the 369th District Court. We all know it is even more illegal for district judges to direct their court coordinators and the District Clerk to assign their felony cases to misdemeanor Court at Law judges for adjudication. This also has been done so many times in Cherokee County, TX that superior courts and the Attorney General’s office are left to stomach the perpetual violation of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, or else reverse 30 years of Bascom Bentley’s cases. To date they have chosen the former. The 12th Court of Appeals, the U.S.Eastern District Court, and regional AG’s office have looked the other way for decades.
After publicly showing solidarity against child molesters, District Judge Bascom Bentley and County Court at Law Judge Craig Fletcher quietly agreed to reduce by fiat the felony parole requirements of Rusk, TX sex offender Rebecca Blankinship. In 2012, Blankinship’s petition to the District Court was accepted, granted, and illegally moved to misdemeanor court to keep it off the record. To the ire of the former prosecutor – now current DA, a relationship was alleged between Blankinship and Fletcher, the county judge who signed Bascom Bentley’s order. (Source: KETK) The Texas AG’s office in Tyler interceded and following an investigation, Craig Fletcher resigned as part of his plea bargain. (Source: KLTV) The details surrounding the case were not made public to ensure the Cherokee County court system did not collapse under scrutiny. The illegal order with Bascom Bentley’s forged signature “by permission” has also not been remanded.
County Judge Craig A. Fletcher was forced to resign on December 9, 2013 after an undisclosed Attorney General investigation. Jacksonville Daily Progress reported Fletcher signed District Judge Bascom Bentley’s name on a female registered sex offender’s order to reduce her parole requirements. We can’t make this kind of stuff up.
Fletcher’s initials on document
Officials don’t deny signature for Bentley written by former county court-at-law judge
The Dec. 9 resignation of Cherokee County Court-at-Law Judge Craig Fletcher appears to be related in some capacity to a year-old court document that eased the restrictions on a convicted Rusk sex offender.
In that Dec. 12 document, Fletcher signed in the name of Second Judicial District Judge Bascom W. Bentley III with the scribbled caveat “by permission CAF” directly beneath it.
Bentley, meanwhile, has remained mum about the signature issue, even when asked directly in a Dec. 12 email if Fletcher had permission to sign his name on the sex offender document and if doing so was legally allowed by law.
Bentley’s court coordinator, Tina Teetz, responded on his behalf — a week after a direct response was requested.
“Judge Bentley would not like to comment on this matter at this time,” Teetz wrote in her Dec. 19 response.
An email inquiring as to the legalities of one judge signing for another also was submitted to the office of Dallas County Justice of the Peace Steve Seider, who is listed as the chairman of the state commission of judicial conduct. But as of a week later Seider had not responded.
After Fletcher’s resignation was officially accepted, a reserved Cherokee County District Attorney Rachel Patton confirmed a criminal investigation into Fletcher dates as far back as early October, shortly after she was informed of inappropriate professional behavior on the part of Fletcher that had the potential to have criminal implications.
Patton said she contacted the Texas Rangers and the Attorney General’s office to request an independent outside investigation and possible prosecution.
A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety also confirmed that the Texas Rangers recently were asked to investigate Fletcher through a special prosecutor with the district attorney’s office. (Source: Jacksonville Daily Progress, Dec. 19, 2013)