WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom is breathing a sigh of relief Saturday night after a senior administrative judge dismissed the court of inquiry into Gossom’s conduct.
A late Christmas gift is what Gossom is calling the dismissal of a conduct inquiry originally filed by former 78th District Judge Barney Fudge.
“We had been given a hint by the judge that it would be coming in this way but my wife and I always talk ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’ so until we saw the signed order we couldn’t say much of anything,” Gossom said.
Now he’s seen the signed order, an order in his favor.
Fudge’s complaint filed in June 2019 stated that a county judge is entitled to a salary supplement equal to 18% of the salary if at least 40% of the functions are judicial in nature.
Allegations against Gossom said that the only judicial functions he performs are presiding over juvenile detention hearings, alleging Gossom’s judicial functions do not achieve the 40% requirement.
“When you look at that process and at the end of it if they had said ‘well we think there’s cause here’ then that’s an immediate arrest and then you bond out, that would’ve been very significant,” Gossom said.
According to the dismissal order, two Tarrant Co. attorneys interviewed witnesses, examined documents and researched the “sparse” Texas law in the area.
The order said the attorneys performed their duties without delay and with a high level of professionalism and found there’s no law providing guidance on how to calculate the percentage of judicial work.
“That’s what we’ve all thought because it’s in the eye of the beholder what is a judicial duty and what isn’t and so of the 15-20 things I listed, some people might say ‘well that’s not judicial,'” Gossom said.
Gossom said he agrees with the judge who signed this order, believing this goes well beyond the authority of the courts and that the law is too vague.
“Judge Peeples nailed it and said, we could’ve let this go to a jury but in a recent 2018 court action, the Supreme Court of Texas, he said it was the duty of the legislature and not the courts to clarify their laws,” Gossom said.
Half a year wondering what would come of this, but Gossom said he’s thankful for all the people who have supported him throughout this process.
As for now, Gossom said he hasn’t heard from Judge Fudge and he isn’t expecting to.
Gossom’s attorney James P. Allison released this statement:
“We are pleased that Judge Peeples has dismissed the ill-advised court of inquiry. Judge Woodrow Gossom has continuously performed all the judicial functions of his office, including more than his share of juvenile proceedings. It is unfortunate that this proceeding was hastily convened without a full review. We were fully confident that Judge Gossom would be exonerated and appreciate the confidence placed in him by his fellow judges and the citizens of Wichita County.”Judge Woody Gossom’s attorney, James P. Allison