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Judge Wooten gets 10 years probation

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Suzanne Wooten

By Dan Eakin, deakin@acnpapers.com

Published: Monday, November 28, 2011 9:10 PM CST
District Judge Suzanne Wooten was sentenced to 10 years probation and a $10,000 fine Monday after having been convicted last week of bribery and other charges.

She also will be required to perform more than 1,000 hours of community service while on probation.

The jury arrived at 8:30 a.m. Monday, expecting to hear prosecutors the next two days arguing what sentence she should receive, and the defense arguing one day that the sentence should be less than what prosecutors would be asking.

After waiting to be brought into the courtroom, the jury was informed that, over the holidays, the state and defense had reached an agreement on the sentence and the fine.

Visiting District Judge Kerry Russell agreed to the sentence on condition that Wooten would acknowledge her guilt and waive the right to appeal. After Wooten did so, the judge signed the necessary papers for the conviction, sentence and fine. The jury was then brought into the courtroom, given an explanation and dismissed, with the judge thanking the jurors for their service.

After hearing more than two weeks of testimony, the jury convicted Wooten last week, and the judge had set the sentencing phase to begin Monday morning. With the agreement worked out between the state and the defense, the sentencing phase became unnecessary.

Per the agreement, Wooten was sentenced to 10 years probation on each of eight charges, to run concurrently, including six counts of bribery, conspiring to engage in criminal activity and money laundering. She was sentenced to five years probation for tampering with a government record, also to run concurrently.

Following the signing of the agreement Monday, Wooten’s attorney, Peter Schulte, who defended Wooten along with Toby Shook, said, “We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict. However, Judge Wooten is ready to move on with her life.”

The agreement also makes Wooten immediately cease her duty as the 380th District Court judge. She had been suspended, receiving full pay, while awaiting trial.

The next hurdle Wooten must overcome will likely be a hearing before the state bar on whether she should be disbarred, meaning her license would be taken away and she could no longer legally practice law in Texas.

“The disbarment is not automatic,” Schulte said. “She will have the right to be heard.”

Should she be disbarred, Wooten could still work as a mediator, a paralegal or in other areas related to the practice of law.

Wooten holds a law degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio.

During the lengthy trial, the state alleged that David and Stacy Cary had funneled six amounts totaling $150,000 into the checking account of James Stephen Spencer, Wooten’s campaign manager, to finance Wooten’s 2008 campaign as bribes to get Wooten to rule in their favor in a child-parent relations case.

Had Wooten taken the case, which she did not, she would have had to rule on whether David Cary would have been required to pay his ex-wife, Jennifer Cary, more than $400,000 in a divorce settlement.

Harry White, who with Adrienne McFarland prosecuted the Wooten case as members of the Texas Attorney General’s staff, promised that he would also bring the Carys and Spencer to trial in relation to the same case.

Stacy Cary is expected to go on trial first, possibly in January. Spencer is expected to be tried next, and David Cary last.

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Written by dawneworswick

November 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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