The Austin Chronicle

No Jury Trial For DA Lehmberg

By Jordan Smith, October 18, 2013, 6:31pm, Newsdesk

The trial slated to start Monday in connection with Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg's April drunken driving arrest will not happen.

Instead, appointed Judge David Peeples in December will consider the evidence at hand and determine whether that singular criminal infraction warrants Lehmberg's ouster from office.

Lehmberg was popped in April for driving drunk. She spent a night in jail, later pleaded guilty and took a twist in the county jail for the crime before entering rehab this summer.

She was slated for a civil trial starting Monday, Oct. 21, to determine if she should be removed from office pursuant to a rarely used provision of the Local Government Code that allows for the removal of certain public officials for several infractions, including "intoxication on or off duty caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage."

Criminal charges were later filed by Rick Reed, a former prosecutor and one-time DA candidate, who alleged Lehmberg had behaved criminally (and not just drunkenly) during her overnight in the county lockup. Those charges were denied by a special-seated grand jury who declined to indict the county's top law enforcer.

Since Lehmberg pleaded guilty, and since she was no-billed for her less-than-stately actions during her overnight jail stay, there is no fact issue to resolve about whether she was drunk that April night (and she was; a blood-alcohol test administered at the jail put her at nearly three times the legal limit). The remaining question is only whether she should be removed from office.

Based on evidence in pleadings, Peeples will make that call in December.

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